Thursday, July 17, 2008

Proposal problems

Slap a small radio transmitter on the back of a fledgling bird, let it go, and locate it twice a day. No problem.

Unless you break our finger and can't hold a bird. Unless its hard to attach the transmitter. Unless the transmitter falls off. Unless the bird is found cold and dead in the willow. Unless the transmitter signal just disapears. Unless you force fledge the birds.

Record GPS location and habitat use of fledgling flycatchers.

I've spent at least one hour of my day for the past week laying on a bed of prickly pine cones, bins attached to my eyes, staring 30ft up into a pine tree at 4 fluffy fledgling flycatcher butts. They haven't moved from those trees since they got into them. Don't get me wrong, their butts are adorable. But 2x a day, when they don't move? Who came up with that idea?

I know a proposal is just that, a proposal. It changes constantly. But someone needs to remind me why I spent hours writing down what I was going to do this summer when I knew it wouldn't really work.

You do the math. 10 family groups two times a day, takes 1 hour to resight them if you are lucky, 1 graduate student plus one field assistant, 14 hours of daylight, 10 minutes of driving time between each site...NOPE, doesn't add up correctly. Let's try that one again.

I'd like to talk about priorities now. "A particular order, or sequence, in which things take place (items processed, users served, etc.)." OK, so my goal is to track DUFL 2x a day, but thats not feasible if you have more than 6 family groups, so I was told that the priority would be to track DUFL with transmitters 2x a day. Got it. Much easier. Since they died, fell off, or disapeared I only have 1 bird to trach 2x a day. Thats great data. DUFL fledglings prefer pine over willow because I tracked on bird and thats where it went.

I kept telling myself that it would be fine if the transmitters did not work. Just track the birds without it. No one told me that DUFL fledglings are often silent, unlike their WIFL cousins.

So what is the lesson in all of this? I should have moved to New Zealand instead of starting a masters.


Jill Terese said...

Lisa, you need to turn that frown upside down. And Zac says, "Nice blog...nerd."

anw said...

I think I deserve some credit here. Just think how much worse it could be.

Johnny Nutcase said...

i don't even want to think of that, amber. We'd be visiting her in a special place for special people, it would probably have bars on the windows.