With my season as a Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow research technician nearing the half-way point, I enjoy reflecting on all of the new things out in Everglades National Park that I experienced in my first weeks as a technician. I still find unexpected pleasures out in the field that I have never encountered before. Of course it is thrilling to see and hear the endangered sparrows, observe their behaviors, and find their nests, but there are also other flora, fauna, and scenery that brighten my day.

I delight in hearing the far off trumpet of sandhill cranes as the sun rises, and see them loping across the sky. While startling, it is also exciting to unexpectedly flush a dove off of her nest in the prairie as Iā€™m hiking in the remote areas of the park, thinking I was alone.

A dove nest in the prairie

A dove nest in the prairie

I look forward to the peaceful, sometimes eerie mornings in the park. Often, a thick blanket of mist is settled over the grass before the sun rises, creating an insulated, beautiful experience.

sunrise

 

sunrise2

There is also the thrill of the expansive, sweeping views I get to see from our helicopter rides to the further reaches of the park. It is a rare experience to see such a wide swath of landscape without any sign of human life or development.

prairie

Finally, there are the gigantic, alien, Lubber Grasshoppers that seemed to invade the prairie only a few days ago. These large, brightly colored insects can be seen clinging high on the sawgrass, and I have never encountered them before coming to the Everglades:

Grasshopper