I spent the week with water up to my waist and bugs constantly taking my blood! An important factor in conserving shorebirds is protecting their food and their environment. I got hands on training on all the work that needs to be done in order to maintain a proper environment. I was trained on macro invertebrate surveys, taking water quality samples, and managing the water on the land. The macro surveys are important so we can ensure the shorebirds have sufficient food during their stay at the wetlands. The diversity found on each pond is absolutely remarkable. The most abundant animal I found was the fairy shrimp. They are bright red and have way too many legs ha. While doing the macro surveys, we also took water quality samples. These samples are important because if the water is too salty or not salty enough the macro invertebrates will die out. Without the macros, the shorebirds would have nothing to eat. It is amazing too see how a small change can cause such a drastic effect on the food chain.
The best part of the week was riding on a ATV to check the water levels on our site. With the shortage of water, it is important to properly manage the little water we do have. Too much water at once will flood the area and cause a shortage of water in the following months. As the days progress and the heat increases, I can see the water level rapidly decreasing. Lets hope there is enough water to last us ’til September!
What I learned this week was that teachers don’t enjoy being knee high in muddy water at all! We had the opportunity to work with 20 teachers at the wetlands. The purpose of this training is to teach teachers how to participate in outdoor activities with their students while maintaining their ciriculum requirements. They had the opportunity to learn about the wetlands and participate in macroinvertebrate surveys. They were all grossed out by the smell and insects, but eventually started having fun. I hope they will take what they learned and teach it to their students.