30 Jun Surveying raptors
I’ve always wondered if I had the patience to be a birder. On Thursday of this week, I found that with a bit more sunblock, I definitely did.
My supervisor here in the Interpretation Division has organized times for me to partner with another park department, Resource Management, once a week in what has already proven to be an incredibly enriching experience. Each Thursday I will be working on a different project in their division; an opportunity I hope will help me create a greater synthesis between the various facets of the Park and better inform my interpretive programs.
As the science education intern here at Rocky, I have a slightly different role than some of the other interpretive interns. In addition to my talks, hikes and roving, I don’t work in visitors centers, but rather have additional opportunities to engage with the scientific work and research being conducted in the park to integrate into my programming. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to work with these extra departments – and get extra time in the outdoors.
This week I assisted one of the head wildlife biologists on a raptor survey in the Fern Lake area of Moraine Park. We were looking for confirmation that a pair of Peregrine
falcons occupying the area along Arch Rocks at the ends of the trailhead had begun their nesting period.
Raptor surveying and field observations require infinite patience and a comfort with silence. For four hours, a timeline established by US Fish and Wildlife for observation periods, we sat in near silence, using our binoculars and spotting scopes to identify potential perches and nests. It can make one antsy, but seeing two peregrines – a truly remarkable bird – along with a slew of other raptors and a surprise eagle nest was incredibly rewarding in a way that I wouldn’t have expected bird-watching to be. Learning how to identify specific birds, their nesting patterns and the importance of this work to maintaining the ecological integrity of Rocky gave me exposure to and an appreciation of an often hidden side of Rocky for someone working in the public face of the Park.