Life continues in the Mojave Desert despite the skyrocketing temperatures. I have continued my internship here in Needles, CA with the BLM. I have spent most of my time since my last post monitoring mines. I check the bat-compatible gates and cupolas that were constructed to keep allowing bats access to the adits and shafts while keeping the public safely out. In the past, people have vandalized these structures. I am happy to note that none of the structures I have visited up to this point have been altered in any fashion.
Shaft with Cupola
Adit with Bat-Compatible Gate
I have also had the opportunity to conduct or assist on several bat surveys. I arrive about one hour before sunset and sit in the vicinity of these structures with night vision goggles and counters. I count the bats as they enter/exit the mine for about an hour after sunset.
- Sunset during a bat survey
I also had the privilege of assisting on a Colorado River mist-netting bat survey. It was a lot of fun! I even got to take a nighthawk out of the net. I will get a second opportunity to river mist net tomorrow night. I’m looking forward to many more fun opportunities as my internship continues!
Nighthawk Pallid bat
It has been one month since I started my CLM internship with the BLM in the Mojave Desert. The weather has been very nice since coming to the desert. It even rained here this past weekend! Unfortunately, it seems the heat has finally arrived.
I have spent my time working on a few projects. I helped build a fence to keep grazing cows from trampling a riparian area. I will actually begin monitoring some of these oases in the desert today. I will be checking for water, identifying native flora and fauna utilizing the site, and noting any flora invasives. The desert springs play a key role in the survival of some of the desert’s most beloved plants and animals.
I have also been helping a coworker conduct habitat suitability surveys for the Mojave fringe-toed lizard. This lizard loves loose sand dunes. We are trying to determine if OHV traffic may be affecting their populations. While out on survey, we were even lucky enough to have already spotted a few of these amazing lizards. We will be joining up with another biologist next week for informal training on proper identification, safe catching and handling techniques, etc.
Finally, I have been spending my time monitoring abandoned mine lands. The BLM has officially closed more than a dozen abandoned mines with bat-friendly gates. These gates allow the bats to freely come and go from the mine while keeping people safely out. I have been visiting these mines to check for any gate disturbances. I have fortunately not found any problems up to this point. Over the next few weeks, I will begin surveying some of these mines for bats and any owls that may also be utilizing the sites. I am looking forward to these night surveys!
On my travels, I have found one of everyone’s favorite desert plant: the Joshua tree.
We also ran into these guys as we were heading to a mine.
I accepted a CLM internship working for the BLM in Needles, CA, which is a small town located in the Mojave Desert on the Colorado River bordering Arizona and nearby Nevada. I am from southeast Texas, so I had a very long drive! Driving to California was an experience in itself. I had only previously been to southeastern New Mexico, so for the most part, the entire drive consisted of areas I had never been or seen before. The snow on the ground in Flagstaff, AZ was a really nice surprise! I had a safe trip the entire route. Once I arrived in Needles, I moved into a really nice house that I am renting with three other CLM interns. My roommates are all very nice. I just started working this past Monday, March 19, 2012. My boss is great! She is very nice, flexible, and I forsee having a great working relationship with her. I am the general biology intern for this office, so I will get to help with a multitude of projects. This is absolutely wonderful, because I will be able to maximize experience here. Overall, I think this is going to be a great opportunity for myself, and I am looking forward to everything! Thank you CLM and BLM for giving me this opportunity.