Another field trip today!  I think the words of our core member Catherine Nguyen really embody our work today, so I'll leave you with her words.

Today we drove down to the Sweetwater Reserve. We were checking the traps to see if any ground squirrels had been caught. The ground squirrels would help the burrowing owls by giving them pre-dug holes to nest in. Unfortunately, none of the traps contained the ground squirrels this week, which either meant they were smart enough to avoid them, or they have left the premises. With any luck it would only be the former. Not much success today, but at least the reserve is full of life. We saw many birds and some deer roaming around. I hope the ground squirrels are roaming around too!

-Journal Entry by member Catherine Nguyen
Fieldwork, fieldwork, fieldwork.  This project idea is moving along so fast, I'm half-expecting it to start flying at this speed.  Every time we go out into the field, as we approach a cage, my heart starts beating with the anticipation of seeing what's in the cage.  Perhaps there will be a rescued owl, or a squirrel, or animals we haven't even imagined catching.  Once, we got a beautiful ring-necked pheasant with magnificent feathers.  It was very frightened and shot out of the trap as soon as we lifted the door.  However, it was unharmed, since these are humane traps, and it was truly an amazing creature close up.

We've also been setting up traps and monitoring cages.  I'm always reminded over and over of why I love this activity - seeing nature's beauty close up, interacting with professional studiers of nature, and being able to see our ideas take shape and make a difference on the environment.  And of course, it is such a fun experience.  We joke and laugh as we work, and some activities were like games when we first started.  For instance, we swapped out different bait until we found the most effective ones for each different region and species.  It was very interesting guessing what squirrels and owls would like to eat based on where they lived.  It seemed that apples were a particular squirrel favorite near garbage dumps.  There was one squirrel in a trash bin that was clever enough to dig out the bait from outside the cage.  He kept stealing the bait and never got caught, so we moved the cage to another region to target a less wily squirrel.

To quote one member after the third time the trap had been sprung, "Geez, MENSA needs to take a look at that squirrel's mind."