Week four of my internship began and I left my quiet little town on the Central Coast for crowded Southern California. I planned this trip to tour the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife office, see some salt marsh bird’s beak and light-footed ridgeway’s rails, and visit the refuges. As a result, I found myself trying to be a good, non-complaining house guest while forced to stay up late and listen to Six the musical at my cousin’s house in Carlsbad, San Diego.
The first day of my trip I met up with a biologist whose name seemed famous to me after reading almost all of his literature on salt marshes. I met this previous Fish and Wildlife employee at the Newport refuge where we weeded a bit of Algerian and European sea lavender and talked rails and bird’s beak all morning. He even showed me stands of bird’s beak much larger than the one’s I had previously seen in Morro Bay.
The week went on and I visited some other important sites. I toured the Carlsbad office and visited the Sweetwater Marsh and Tijuana Estuary. At the Sweetwater Marsh, I was fortunate enough to shadow a group of biologists as they placed fancy and expensive GPS and satellite trackers on light-footed ridgway’s rails. Not only was it exciting to physically see the species I only knew about from literature, but I also found myself geeking-out over the GPS and satellite trackers my elephant seal lab from school has been trying to obtain for years. I wish that I had a picture to show of the rails and trackers, but unfortunately the day before I dropped and broke my phone.
Later that sunny Friday after a tour of the Tijuana Estuary, I went searching for light-footed ridgeway’s rail in the wild. I, along with a few other DFP’s I met in person, walked a trail adjacent to the estuary. Within minutes, a rail emerged out of the dense wetland vegetation to forage along the mudflats. As fast as it appeared, the rail disappeared into the cordgrass.
This trip was truly the highlight to my internship. I loved being able to meet a few DFP’s, my supervisor, and some other Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife employees. I feel so appreciative that I was able to step out of this virtual world and travel to San Diego. Not only was it amazing to see the major role the Service plays down in Southern California, but it was good for me to temporarily step out of my tiny bubble in San Luis Obispo.
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP
Location: Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office