Hello World and Welcome to the Smokies!
I’m Laura C. Del Valle and I’ll be working this summer on Great Smoky Mountains National Park as an acoustic biologist technician for the Natural Sounds & Night Skies Division. My project will consist on capturing the essence of the park by audio recordings. I’ll be hiking around some trails around the park to grab recordings with the goal of capturing everything from birds to the sound of a creek or even the wind that roses the trees. With these recordings, I’ll become some sort of detective as later I’ll try to identify the author of the sound and get a better idea on the density and location of it. These findings may contribute to a much detailed database for a species or specific sounds in general. Other of my duties, will include assisting park rangers at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, to answer some public questions and eventually give some talks and presentations on the project.
It’s been surreal to realize that it’s already been a week that I’ve been away from home, Carolina, Puerto Rico and has been living (literally) at a National Park. To tell you a bit about myself I’m currently a Senior and almost a recent graduate at the University of Puerto Rico, Humacao campus and my major is Wildlife Management. Getting some field experience and job taste outside the classroom was a big must for me as I have plans to apply to Graduate School in the Fall, so this internship will be a huge opportunity, not only to do some networking, but to find some focus interest on where I want to continue to on with the field on wildlife studies.
This is my first time in Tennessee and so far, it’s been great! I’ve gotten a big peak from the wildlife that can be found here. I’ve already checked some wildlife off my bucket list: a raccoon, a deer, and a snake and of course, squirrels! This last Saturday, I got to see my first black bear (my favorite), it was approximately a year old and probably a male. It was the cutest thing , we were really close to it, therefore I was really excited about it. Interesting fact, there are 1,600 black bears are all around the park, but are commonly seen on Cade’s Cove.
Living on a National Park, has been great but only that where I live there’s no service, including WiFi (which is why it has taken me a bit of time to update the blog). It has been interesting and a good experience to take time off social media and actually explore around the campsite neighborhood. Because of this, I was lucky to find the area where the Synchronous Fireflies show gets place. Their high peak only runs from May 30 to June 6. The fireflies were really pretty, looked like yellow blinking stars, and I even got to see some blueish color ones, which I’ve been told are difficult to see. These fireflies have a really short lifespan, they only live on these certain dates, seeing them after will be very difficult. It was also very nice to walk back home and check out the families at the campsite enjoying their time around the fire and smell the barbecue.
For my research, I’ve been able to get started on some hikes to practice with the recording equipment. My first one being a trail around Twin Creeks, where my work area is located. On Friday I got to hike Grotto Falls, which was beautiful. Being the most intensive one has been Ramsey Cascades, the trail where I saw the bear. It was a rough 8 mile roundtrip, but totally worth it, the main cascade is magnificent as well as the ones that you get to see along the way. It sure was a huge workout but like I mentioned, all the nature beauty that surrounded us was worth it!
Following these weeks, I’ll be making more hiking plans with my supervisor and get started full with the recordings. I’ll keep you posted on what I find!
Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way! – Dr. Seuss