Sunday, July 30, 2017

Weekly Update (July 26/27)

Hi Mountain Lookout 2017 Interns - Emily Hermann, Cecilia Huizar, Nelly Guerra, Massupha Upachit, and Gaku Ogawa

After weeks of preparation and training, we embarked on our first over-night stay at the lookout!
On Wednesday (7/26), we got to the Pozo fire station around 8:30 am and walked out to our first field site about 60 meters from the station. Our goal for the day was to begin the milkweed survey, as well as work through the kinks of the data collection procedures. We are looking at the relationship between milkweed plants (Asclepias fasicularis and A. eriocarpa) and their distance away from a nearby stream bed up to 20 meters. The presence of the patches provides space for monarch breeding to occur, so we record if any breeding is present on the plants, or if monarch adults are in the area. Overall, the data collection went smoothly as the group found our routine for measuring, recording, and conflict resolution.

We finished data collection in the first site before lunch, and headed back to the station to relax and get out of the sun. After lunch, Nelly drove us up to the lookout for Condor Telemetry data collection, as lead by Massupha and Cecilia. Thankfully, we all got a refresher on the different sounds the receiver can make from interference, as well as hearing and recording two birds signals; both signals came from the direction of Big Sur.

After packing the telemetry equipment back up, we all headed back down the mountain to our second field site about 50 meters past the creek crossing. There was an abundance of milkweed from the mouth of the dried creek bed, a very different scene than years previous. We worked for about an hour and a half when we saw Dr. Villablanca's "Mod Bus" roll over the hill to meet us. He came up for the night to ensure that the survey procedures would still be effective in the new season and that we would all be settled in for the night. We talked through how the first day had been going and decided to alter our protocol to include a larger span of milkweed plants from the center of the creek bed.

Our long and productive first day was over and we worked our way up the mountain to eat and relax at the lookout for the night. We even pulled out the telescope for a late night celestial viewing party.

The next morning, we woke up to a gorgeous sunrise, ate breakfast, and packed up the lookout. As we closed up we decided to put the chains from the North and South shutters in the top drawer of the desk in case of vandals. Dr. V pointed out the small animal trapping sites and the other milkweed survey starting points on our way to our field work site for the day. The timeline for getting through the sites is vague at this point in time because there is a visible increase in population size as compared to last year, but we will do our best. 

The second day of data collection went smoother logistically, however it seemed like the heat and the long hours slowed us all down. We reached a stopping point around noon and decided to call it for the day, in order to stay on the safe side and avoid any heat sickness. When we got back to the station, we cleaned up the truck and all of our belongings and relaxed together for one last time as we ate lunch. It was a successful trip and we are all excited to see what the rest of the summer holds for us.

(We will be rotating who sends out the weekly updates. Nelly will be sending out next week's)

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