Thursday, July 21, 2016

Garter Snake Work Trip

There was close to 25lb of traps on my back at this point. So much fun!

Several weeks ago I got to go on one of the best work trips of my career. We recently found a species of snake at one of our restoration sites that hadn't been found in the area since the 1900s. Because of this rediscovery they will most likely be added to our list of covered species that we build and maintain habitat for. In order to survey for these snakes, we need a permit and in order to get a permit you need trap hours and experience. Thankfully, Arizona Game and Fish were planning on a survey this summer and they invited us out in order to gain the survey hours needed! To be honest, I was apprehensive about the trip. I was to stay in a field house, bring all my own food, possibly share a room, do field work I was not used to annndddd socialize more than I am used to. I spent the better part of a weekend preparing for the week and had mostly calmed myself down about the trip. I was rewarded with one of the most fun trips I've taken in a long time!
The above photo is the view I had every morning while I ate my breakfast [insert heart eye emoji]! It was so incredibly pleasant to work hard enough that I slept well each night, get a full 8 hours of sleep, have 1 1/2-2 hours to prepare for the day, eat exactly what I wanted and to be disconnected from most of social media for the week. 

These petroglyphs were right behind the house we were staying in and the sunset was incredible every evening! On most of my trips, I'm relatively quiet while we're doing field work and the time we have outside of work is spent in my room reading or checking out Pinterest. For once, I did not have that option and in preparation of it, I downloaded several books on my kindle so that if we did have downtime I could just read (aka avoid people lol). What surprised me most is that instead of reading, I played dice games with the other part of the crew, chatted about work and life stuff while eating dinner, explored the entire ranch and in general just chilled. It was so very relaxing.

 As most of my work is spent in converted agriculture fields, spending so much time in the water was a blast! The work was challenging, let's be clear, we hiked over 8 miles each day and it wasn't a leisurely stroll. I was happily surprised that the lead biologist was as speedy of a hiker as I was and that it was a fun challenge to keep up with him ;)

And last but not least, we actually didn't end up seeing any snakes of the species we were hoping for (they hadn't been seen in the area for over 30 years so hopes weren't super high) but we did see this awesome guy as well as a couple Colorado river toads, skunks, raptors, a California king snake and one other diamondback!

I can't stress enough how important it can be to step out of your comfort zone every now and then. I LOVE routine, not having a plan seriously stresses me out. BUT if I had turned down this trip or done my usual recluse thing every night I would have missed out on such fantastic conversations, a whole lot of laughs and a small group of new biologist friends that I hope to work with again. So totally worth it.

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