Another week, another 200 detections. And, better yet, few dropped tags. We found three tags that seemed to be the victim of predation (most likely of the human variety this time), which was a huge relief after the struggles we had with dropped tags the last two weeks. Leaving Loyalsock Thursday night I was breathing a little easier thinking about the fate of this project.
But, wait…Thursday? What about Friday?
No, I haven’t forgotten that the work week is five days. But, by Thursday deep soreness sets into every major muscle group (who knew fingers could get sore?) and we are toting around a significant amount of data. I personally get a little nervous when a week’s worth of hard-earned data are stored on a single device that is prone to randomly turning off and gets temperamental when surrounded by too much nature (rain, for example, is an instant death sentence to the GPS).
So, it’s back to State College every Thursday night and Fridays are my day to play catch-up in the office. This “behind the scenes” work isn’t nearly as glamorous as the field. It starts well before sunrise (at least we have to wait until daylight to track!) with several hours of me pleading to the GPS to connect to the computer (I swear it plays games with me). Once I win that war, it takes a while to download the data, so I pass time repairing equipment, ordering supplies (August tagging begins soon!), and looking over the hundreds of emails I turned my eye away from during the week.
Sometime around mid-afternoon I finally circle back around to the data which appear as little non-descript dots on a map. Anti-climactic is an understatement. But adjust a few settings, work a little magic, look back through field notes, (make another pot of coffee), and suddenly there’s a twinge of excitement.
Like when you see that one 6-inch fish has moved over 7 football fields away. That may not seem like too far, but it’s over 4200x it’s body length.
Or you notice that some fish are moving between streams
And that there are some fish that consistently occupy habitats that are 2-3 degrees colder than other fish.
At that time you close the file, pack it in, and leave because if you look too closely you’ll spoil any chance of enjoying a little bit of the holiday weekend.
Happy and safe July 4th from The Troutlook! Don’t forget to look at the research tab for new information about the current project.