Windy Bugs – new intern and birding!

The future of our wind farm sites looks like this.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks!  First, a new CLM intern has joined the Windy Bugs crew – Laura Super.  We have been introducing her to our field sites and Laramie.

Laura Super (L) and I near our camping site.

It is really drying up around here.  While we’ve had some rain and hail in Laramie, our Choke Cherry site was so dry that our floral surveys were VERY easy this trip.  We did collect lots of bees and other insects, and saw one beautiful milkweed.

Aaron equipped with cyanide tubes and a funnel

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to go on a short birding trip with WYNDD ornithologist Michael Wickens.  We went into the Snowy range near Medicine Bow peak.  It was absolutely gorgeous and a great chance to see some different Wyoming landscapes, insects, and birds.  Since my bird ID skills are pretty much non-existant, it was great to be with an expert and see how bird point counts are done while trying to learn some songs and calls.

Michael Wickens listens for birds in a meadow

I was fortunate enough to see a number of interesting birds, including three-toed woodpeckers, mountain chickadees, a ruby-crowned kinglet, and grosbeaks.  Since the mountains are much wetter than the sagebrush-dominated areas I work in, there were many more visible arthropods out and about.

A wood tiger moth (Parasemia plantaginis)

A Syrphid fly

Cuckoo wasp (Chrysididae)

A female wolf spider (Lycosidae) with an egg sac

The wildlife on this trip was certainly exciting, but the plant life was amazing as well!  I got to see two native orchids, a beautiful bright pink Castilleja, Columbines, and some lovely alpine plants.

Parasitic orchid Corallorhiza maculata

Platanthera dilatata, another native orchid

Castilleja rhexifolia

I had such a wonderful time in the Snowies, despite the mosquitoes, that I plan to go camping and hiking there next weekend.  Before that, we’re headed back to our Sierra Madre site tomorrow morning!


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