The other night, my co-workers and I went out at around 9 PM to spotlight for woodcock again due to good (meaning dark and rainy) conditions. We caught a few birds in Barn Meadow, then headed to a blueberry field where we proceeded to catch no birds at all- the moon was unexpectedly bright. Rain started pouring down and as we noted that it was now 1 AM, we headed back, a bit tired, but still in good spirits. On the way back to our home, we just got in a silly mood and started jumping in some pretty epic puddles because we were already soaking wet. After we ran and splashed our way back, I discovered that a rug I had put in the washer had practically disintegrated while we were gone. That was just too much and we laughed hysterically for quite some time. Just the pure joy and un-guardedness of that night will always remain with me when I think of this summer- it was a sweet moment.
Last night, four of us headed over to Grand Lake Stream to trap some ducks! We set up what looked like a giant woodcock trap, threw some corn at the bottom of it, and watched the magic after running to town to grab some dinner. We barely even had time to eat half of our sandwiches before the ducks went crazy and started stuffing themselves into our trap. After getting as many as possible in there, we started netting them out and putting them in crates, where we then banded, aged, and sexed them before their release. We caught SEVENTY ducks- twenty of which were recaptures. We were there from about 4:30 pm to 9:30 pm banding ducks. Whew! We mostly got black ducks and mallards, with some hybrids thrown in there. They were fighters! I’ve got scratches all up and down my arms from their pesky little feet. We’re running this trap on someone’s property and after we finished banding all the ducks, they invited us in for some refreshments. Sitting there on the couch, in their beautiful wooden home, surrounded by dogs and the joy of good conversation, I just felt so content. They really made us feel that we had done something special that night.
After making homemade blueberry pie, spotlighting for woodcock, duck trapping, and spotting a bear and two cubs, this internship has come to an end. It’s definitely bittersweet. It’s absolutely incredible how much I’ve learned this summer- about living on my own, biology, northern forests, cooking, USFWS, technology, career paths, trucks, the government, Canada, birds, trapping, field work, etc. This is really the first time that I’ve spent an entire summer, except for two weeks, away from home, working, and it really has been an eye-opening experience. Also, being elevated from the duties of a typical intern to a biotechnician was something that I never expected. Having more responsibility really pushed me much farther and for that, I’m exceedingly grateful.
In the end, I’m still not sure what career path that I want to take. However, I’ve learned what field work really entails and that working outdoors all the time can be quite difficult. That being said, although I spent almost every single day of this summer outside, rain or shine, I was never bored with the beauty that was being presented. It was nice, every once in a while, to stay in the office and work on data entry or something when it was unpleasant outside, but I’d soon find myself growing restless, ready to get outside and see what was happening on the Refuge that day. It’s all about embracing the circumstances- why fight getting dirty or wet when it’s inevitable? Perhaps this is a sign that I’m at least in the right area for a career! Who can say? I have tons more to learn and I think I’m OK with not having a set path for now.
I’ll always cherish my memories of Maine, Moosehorn, and all of the people that I’ve met throughout this summer.