Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Week 12

(This post is from August 2013. I edited it recently, which made it appear as if it was from January 2014.)

This week I helped eradicate some patches of black locust, an invasive species, from the refuge. The YCC cut the stems with loppers, and then we followed behind and treated the stumps with chemical.


We stumbled upon this little guy when we were treating locust. My guess is that it's a cicada that had recently shed its exoskeleton. 

Mourning Dove


We've also been trying to trap and band Mourning Doves. We finally caught some this week! I got to release one. IT WAS SO MAGICAL.

Other projects include mapping thistle, checking water levels, data entry, and doing some maintenance and car washing.

Environmental Education Building Site

Our maintenance guys are busy doing the prep work for a new environmental education building that should be constructed next fiscal year. This is a MAT Team project, meaning that maintenance guys from other refuges come in to help! 

On Thursday we had a going-away picnic for myself and the YCC. The refuge staff got me a fishing pole as a going away present! I was super surprised and am so excited to try it out in Ohio! 

Wow. My last week has come to an end. I can't believe it! Time really flew. 

One of the best things about my time at Sherburne this summer was that I got a well-rounded experience. Yes, I was a biological intern, but I also got to spend a good amount of time with the other departments that make up a refuge. I put in work with our maintenance guys, and found that I really like working with my hands. I tried my hand at visitor services, and found that I really appreciate the field of environmental education. I got to explore a diversity of fields and occupations through this internship, and I really appreciate that.
I could never put into words how much I appreciate all of the staff and mentors who took the time to teach, assist, and guide me throughout this program. I’ll definitely never forget my summer at Sherburne. 

This will be my last post on this blog. Thanks for keeping up with me this summer!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Week 11

This past week I was in Minneapolis at the annual FWS Student Workshop. Here, CDIP interns and Pathways students from all over Region 3 gathered to share their experiences from the summer and to learn more about the Fish and Wildlife Service. There were several "Open Houses", where we could roam between different program areas to learn more about those that interested us. These included departments I was familiar with such as Visitor Services, Fire, and Biology, as well as those I didn't know much about, like Ecological Services and Fisheries. We also toured the regional office, Minnesota Valley NWR (National Wildlife Refuge), and St. Croix WMD (Wetland Management District). It was a good time to learn more about the Service and to network!

In our free time, my fellow interns and I went to the movies, hung out, and went to the Mall of America! It was really fun!

Nickelodeon Universe (in the Mall of America)

Lego Store! (in the Mall of America)

Weeks 9 + 10

These past few weeks have been busy! We completed the Oak Savanna fire monitoring plots in record time. Having 3 extra people (the YCC helped out) really sped things along! Speaking of fire, we also watched another prescribed burn, as well as mapped a few more fire monitoring plots on the GPS.

Wood Duck Traps

We also set up traps so that we can band and release wood ducks. Sally has been monitoring the traps, but so far most of the ducks that we've caught have been too small to band. Better luck next year! 


I had a leech on my waders when we came back from setting the wood duck traps. It was the first time I'd ever come into contact with a live one, so of course we had to take a picture!

As far as water goes, we've also cleared the dam on Bohm Pool a couple times in the past few weeks. Those pesky beavers are persistent! 

I also helped Sally monitor vegetation for Minnesota'a PCA's (Pollution Control Agency) WHEP (Wetland Health Evaluation Program). This, in conjunction with the invertebrate data we gathered earlier, will help us to "grade" Sherburne's wetlands for quality!


I've also been doing some more invasive species mapping. This time it's Thistle! It's mostly on the road sides. It's also near most water impoundment structures, because the dirt there was brought in from outside the refuge and probably had the seeds in it. 

Other projects include installing the identification cards on the forb garden, trail maintenance, attending an environmental education presentation on soil, and washing cars!


I used to get really annoyed having to walk through raspberry bushes because of the thorns. Now that there's fruit, I don't mind as much! Doesn't get much fresher than that!

Spawn of Satan

Someone brought this horse fly into headquarters a little while back. It's bigger than my face. I hope you weren't planning on sleeping later, 'cause this thing will haunt your dreams. With that being said, goodnight!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Week 8

Bald Eagle

On Monday, Rylee (one of the YCC) and I went to all of the pools on the refuge to check water levels. We also noted beaver activity and cattail mat encroachment. Some pools are checked more often than others and some I had never actually been to, so it was an adventure finding them all. I really appreciated Rylee's help as my navigator! 

Lupine Seeds

This week I also did some work on our forb garden. We have various wildflowers planted in eight boxes by the old schoolhouse. I made identification cards for the flowers so that visitors would know what we had growing. 

I also transported the seeds that have been collected by our volunteers to storage. Lupine seeds are stored in a tent, as seen above. This is because lupine seeds are in a pod, which pops open to release the seed, which can be kind of messy! 

Speaking of flowers, more pictures! 


 Purple Vetch

I took the YCC to Crane Meadows NWR on Wednesday to help out on some projects they had. Crane Meadows and Sherburne are in a complex, along with Rice Lake and Mille Lacs. We painted a porch, stained a deck, and helped to dig up their forb garden so it could be replanted. I think I wound up with more paint on my clothes than the porch. It was fun! 

Purple Martin Chicks

Crane Meadows has a couple of pretty cool bird houses dedicated to birds whose numbers are declining due to habitat loss. There is a Purple Martin condo, a box of which is shown above, as well as a chimney swift tower.  Chimney Swifts are on the decline because they traditionally nest in chimneys, which are on the fall due to more energy efficient heating. 

And then we set the refuge on fire. 

Well not me, because I'm not red-carded. But most of the other staff of Sherburne (and a couple of folks from Crane Meadows) performed a prescribed burn on a 60-acre patch of land next to Blue Hill Trail on Thursday. It was amazing to see. The smoke cloud was ridiculous. It also went way faster than I expected, and was a pretty successful burn.  

We walked the burned area after the fire, and found some pretty cool bones left behind.

There was also this dragonfly eating another dragonfly. How rude. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Week 7

I recently had the privilege of visiting the smallest refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Mille Lacs NWR consists of two islands (Spirit and Hennepin) located on Lake Mille Lacs in Minnesota. Both islands are important to the local Native American people.

Spirit Island

Hennepin Island

In addition, Hennepin Island hosts a breeding population of common terns, which are a state threatened species in Minnesota. We spent one morning on Hennepin Island surveying tern nests and helping to protect them from harm.

Terns are pretty minimalist when it comes to nesting. As the above picture shows, they basically plop their eggs down in sand or gravel and call it a day. The first thing we did was count nests and how many eggs were in each nest. 

Tern Chick

We also installed bird houses to help provide the chicks with some protection from the sun.

Tern nests are heavily predated by gulls, who will peck holes into tern eggs. In order to help combat this, a rope grid is established on the half of Hennepin island that hosts tern nests (the other half of the island only has gull and cormorant nests). While the grid still allows the smaller tern to navigate the land, it prevents the larger gulls from entering and destroying eggs. Unfortunately, if the ropes aren't taut, birds that fly into the grid can get caught. I cut this tern free (it was still alive!), and then we reestablished the grid and tightened all of the ropes. 

Gull Nest

Unfortunately, the grid isn't enough to discourage gulls from using the island. Gull eggs found inside of the grid are destroyed. On the other half of the island, gull eggs are oiled with 100% vegetable oil. Eggs are porous, allowing the chick developing inside to breathe. By applying oil, the pores are sealed and the chick will die, but the adult gulls will continue to care for their nests. This keeps the gulls from laying even more eggs.

Visiting Mille Lacs NWR was fun and informative! 

Back at Sherburne, we completed the forest plots for fire monitoring. We also established new plots for future study in the area where cattle are grazing. 




Black-Eyed Susan