Friday, May 7, 2010

What a Day!

Today has been absolutely wonderful! From the early 4 a.m. wake-up call to the relaxing downtime right now, each part of the day has really been a treat. While the morning came early, it was quite rewarding. The trip into the park included such sights as a ruffed grouse and a large gray fox for starters. Then, we came across a bit of luck: a grizzly was spotted. We had our first grizzly, and while viewing it, one of the most incredible things happened. The viewing of the grizzly was accompanied by a chorus of wolves howling. We knew that they were in the area from previous sightings of bison running nearby, but those calls certainly made me realize that I was experiencing something many people will not get to experience in their lifetimes. I felt quite privileged.
After finishing up with the morning scouting and a quick stop in town for breakfast, we decided to take some bulk soil samples. Back at the lodge, we set up some experiments dealing with plant respiration and gas levels. I must admit, some of the lab work was quite tedious. However, I am finally getting a good grasp of the work we have been set out to accomplish, more so than what one merely can read on a syllabus. The data will hopefully provide some important insight into the invasive/non-invasive comparisons within soil in the park and its surrounding enclosures.
The evening continued by going back into the park. The initial idea was to check out a potential kill site to see if any wolves would be present. What we came across, instead, was a close-up view of 4 big horn sheep feeding on the side of a ridge. A couple of instances had us watching some males ramming one another, and the entire experience was really neat! Of course, we finished the day with another wonderful meal of chorizo tacos made with fresh ingredients. I have had such a great time on this trip so far, and I can't wait for tomorrow to start!

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