Desert Love sees past Sweat and Blood

Summer 2013
The desert quietly pulled my restless soul back into its hot, sweaty embrace.  The spring started with my favorite bird project collecting breeding evidence of all the Lower Colorado locals.  As always, the beginning of our season starts as a rigorous boot camp, known to other field biologists as “trail clearing.”  A successful day includes throwing down the axe in rage, swearing in languages unknown to any human, and charging at the vegetation with a full body dance that resembles an intoxicated rhinoceros.  It ends with a few hundred meters of trail cleared and at least three open wounds.  Eventually, boot camp ends and the fun part begins; we become master spies.  Armed with a map, binoculars, and knowledge of what kinky bird behavior looks like, we decipher their deepest secrets and record them.  At least, that’s what I tell people I do.
After one season, I couldn’t resist the urge to continue the sweat fest in the desert and joined the Yellow-billed Cuckoo project.  Despite the lack of cuckoo detections and constant days above 115, I basked in the glory of calling my backyard the Colorado River.  Many evenings were spent sitting on the dock, serenading the fish with bad ukulele playing, and floating lazily down the river without a care in the world.

A musing from sitting on the dock:

“Boats rocket by as town enjoys its playtime on the not-so-mighty Colorado River.  I try to comprehend what the view in front of me looked like a century ago and can’t seem to escape my fascination with this river and what it once was.  The reason field biology projects studying dwindling species exist is because of humankind’s desire to rule, manage, and own everything.”

Cato demonstrates safe trail clearing techniques.
The mighty Bill Williams wildlife refuge.  A place that has stolen my heart despite the 115+ degree days.
Falling in love with a baby cuckoo.
A Great-horned Owl fledgling perches while his mom screams nearby.

 

Mud yoga next to the Virgin River in Nevada.
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