Monday, May 30, 2011

Week 3 is the Bees Knees

This week I had my first day off! It was very nice; I got a chance to explore a bit more of Belize and see an ancient Mayan ruin site called Lamenai. A fellow volunteer, Jack, and I ended up missing our bus back however and had to hitchhike the 40 miles to Sarteneja. A lovely group of 11 fishermen let us cram into the back of their truck with them; it was quite a squeeze but we made it back, and alive!

Tuesday was chaotic! We got a call saying two spider monkeys had been confiscated from someones home and needed our help. Paul and Zoe drove the 4 hours to get them while the rest of us scrambled to prepare proper housing, clean and disinfect carriers, and shift the other monkeys around all while taking care of the Twigster. It was pretty intense, but we finished everything in time, only to have Paul and Zoe come back empty handed because the monkeys escaped from the park service's holding area before they got there. BUT at least we know we're awesome enough to pull it off if we need to.

Yesterday the whole group of volunteers finished with their programs so it's now only me, Ashley, and Ashley's brother Shawn that's visiting that are here to help out. I miss my British friends; drinking tea is just not the same without them. Some new volunteers should be coming in next week, and today I began training Shawn on the manatee work. In other news I have been officially promoted to manatee care coordinator for the remainder of my internship (oh yeah, real professional stuff)! Though that only means for the next 10 days :(

We've had no running water this past week and it looks to be like it won't be fixed for quite some time. It makes some of the cleaning duties difficult at times; running back and forth with buckets of lagoon water, but it makes me feel like I'm Laura Ingles, which if you've felt this way you know is awesome (and slightly smelly). Our drinking water is still working so that's good! However it's stored rain water and since it hasn't rained the entire time I've been here I'm not quite sure how much could be left.

Anyway, this week has been very exciting and awesome and super and adventurous and and get the point :)

On the 2nd Twiggy is due for a check-up which means I'll be helping to hurl her out of the water and weigh her! woo!

Take care all,


Hello from Joburg

So finally after two days of delays due to the storm we had in the southeast Thursday night, I have finally arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa (often times called “Joburg”). Although I just landed from a 15 hour plane ride, I still have a 12 hour wait here in OR Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg Airport). I’ve found the place I’ll be spending the night (it’s 6:00 pm here and 12:00 pm back at home)… it’s an “Aircraft Viewing Platform” of the international departures and it’s out of the way of the rest of the airport. A bit of advice…. if you ever have to spend the night in an airport, take some time wandering around to find the best spot. You want to be in a place where there won’t be much people traffic, so as to avoid giving anyone the temptation to steal from you while you are sleeping (it most definitely happens!) Anyways, after my 12 hour wait here I have a flight from Joburg to Windhoek, Namibia where I will be picked up by the CCF. I don’t know if I’ll have internet access, but if I do I will make sure to post another update. Until then…..


Kestrels like to climb too much

This week I worked every day in some way, shape, or form. So I'm just going to start right away. Monday started out with casually feeding the baby crow who still had the bandaging on his wing. Man when he's hungry, he's hungry! Since the weather wasn't bad that morning we decided to try and rerelease the Red-tailed hawk again. We went up somewhere in the Union area almost near the Mass-Connecticut boarded to release the bird. This time Mary-Beth gave it a nice bit of lift and it took off into one of the trees nearby. It felt so good to see that bird fly off. One person driving by even stopped to watch the event. When we got back we cleaned out the other Red-tailed hawks rehab carrier. Mary-Beth showed me her technique of how to grab the birds out of the carrier in order to transfer them to a clean one. She has a few extra clean carriers ready for when birds come in or when it is time to clean out the carriers being used. Our next task was to rebandage the crows wing. He has been healing up so well, and he loved being able to let his little wing air out. Also I'm sure he loved to get all the dander off his wing.

We also took Chappy out for a debut kind of thing at the town hall. It was his first time being inside a building on the glove. He did very well for his first time, but he of course had to bate once. When we finally got back my last task of the day was to work with Kisra the Kestrel. Jeanne got his jesses on and handed him off to me. After handling her for a bit it put her back and took the jesses off myself. Boy is it hard to do that left handed when you’re not used to it. Also on Monday we took the weights of the baby birds we had in rehab. I got to grab one of the baby barred owls and the baby screech owl. That screech owl was such a puff ball.

Tuesday I did actually go in, but I did do work related to my internship. I was asked to make a new feeding chart based off of the one they had now and the recommendations of feeding based on weight. Thursday I also worked at home, but this time to make up a standard maintenance chart.

But what happen to Wednesday?! Well we started with feeding all of hawks and removing carcasses. While we did that I worked on winning Julian the Raven over. I fed him a pinkie and a hopper mouse, which seemed to please him. Then it was time to clean out the rehab cages. This time it was my turn to try and catch the hawk. Needless to say I don't have the best technique in the world. Lucky for me the bird decided to do the whole lay over and play dead thing. That way I could grab it and transfer it to the other cage. Afterwards was bird handling time with Kisra. Today I was supposed to jesses her up myself which was interesting. First off she wanted nothing to do with it. Kisra kept trying to climb up the wall in hopes to avoid me. Jeanne told me to step out for a bit so she would go back to her nest box and then try again. So I waited a bit and went in and tried again. She did the same thing, so I decided to work with what I had. I jessed up one of her legs while she was on the mesh and then I was able to hold that jess and get the other one threaded through. After I got her all situated I went and sat with Jeanne on the picnic tables as she held Chappy. She also took his weight which was interesting in the fact he would only stand on the scale if it was in the travel box.

After some handling I got to watch Jeanne and Mary-Beth bandage up a baby barred owls wing. It's apparent that they have done with many times together because they just work together so well without even a word. Our last task was to measure out a property line in order to place out some electric fencing.

Friday was a fairly easy day. Me, Jeanne, and Brenda cleaned out the aviaries and scrubbed down the perches. It went pretty quick with 3 people working. Then we took Corbin out for some much needed sun and fresh air. He was loving it just sitting on our legs and playing with the puffy dandelions. He also had a chance to air out his bandaged wing which we were finally able to leave off. I then practiced with a little more with Kisra since I was to hold her during the presentation on Saturday. I also got a chance to work with Chico the Broad-winged hawk. He stepped up on the glove a few times for me which was a good start.

Saturday was a funny day, a nice trip out to Rhode Island with Mary-Beth, Jeanne, and Alan. We had a program that we had to do for the Duck awards ceremony. It was slightly a bust because only a few people actually interacted during the whole thing. It was pretty dull and fried all of us because we weren't used to it. I got to hold Kisra and Beamer (the box turtle) during the presentation. When we got home I did a transfer with Jeanne using Chappy. This time he didn't even bate during the transfer. We sat on the picnic table for a while and then got to unjess him. It was interesting because he gave me this big Red-tailed posture like he wanted to tag me but he acted like such a gentleman.

After that program it revisited something I learned last summer that could help me later on. No matter how dull the audience is in a program, you just have to keep rolling with it. Just because most people are asleep or texting that doesn't mean that everyone isn't paying attention. There are still a few people that are learning and are valuing what your saying. That's what makes you feel good about doing presentations. As long as your making a difference with a few people you have achieved your goal.

So today I will leave you with a few more pictures from the week.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Week Two: Taking care of the manatee foo!

Ah yes another week has gone by and I'm fully settled in. This week was fairly routine; everyday I walk Twiggy out into the lagoon where she follows me to the best sea grass grazing areas, I stay with her for the two three hour shifts observing how much time she spends feeding, playing, and resting. When time is up I walk her back to her lagoon pool area where I bottle feed her the powdered milk and vitamines that help with digestion. While in the lagoon I always bring a blow up float with me and ancor it in the sea grass area. This is because when Twiggy was smaller there was always a float in her pool that she could hide and sleep under. Manatees are very social animals that need a lot of physical contact; having the float in the pool with her gave her something to hold and hug. When first introducing Twiggy to the lagoon, volunteers would lay on the float so she would associate those people being in that area; she had constant contact with the people and knew them well. Now we are weaning this human contact from Twiggy by continuing to bring the float out to the area but by observing her behavior from the shore. In a few weeks time she will also be weaned from the float. Slowly but surely Twiggy is becoming more independent and not relying upon people; she's being weaned from us, her float, and is currently in the process of finishing up with the milk. It is the centers hope that Twiggy will be ready for realease into Corozal Bay sometime between June and September where she will meet up with one of the 4 manatee herds already established there. She will no longer be following me to the feeding grounds, but other manatees :)

This week I also worked on data entry. Information about Twiggy's feeds such as time, amount given, amount spilt, total drank, and the formula/vitamine ratio all need to be recorded. We do the recording in a book and then transfer the information onto the computer. Unfortunately data hadn't been entered into the computer for about 3 months so I had quite the project! Now the information is all up to date and it will take much less time to update as I keep up with the records.

On Sunday a group of people from Blue Ventures, they do expeditions and research projects concerning the ocean, came to Wildtracks to learn about the rehabilitation project. I assisted my supervisor Zoe in giving them a tour of the facility and explaining the process of rehabilitating orphaned manatees. After showing them the pools, explaining heat regulations, and demonstrating a feeding, I showed them back to the main house and Zoe gave a presentation explaining why manatees are a vulnrable species and what's been happening to the population. It was a good learning experience for myself as well because I got to hear a bit more background information about how they start the rehabilitation process and continue along through the steps of recovery.

Time has been flying by! I only have 16 days left and I'm nowhere near ready to leave this experience behind. It's been a lot of long days, but I get to hang out with a manatee!


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dogs & Cats at Pet Orphans

Another great week in the Orphange. 4 of the 5 dogs in isolation got put up for adoption! The only sitll in Iso has been given his last medication for Parvo. He's doing great and getting over it really well. Hopefully he too will join them in getting adopted.

The cats that were still in isolation are still there but they are getting much better. One of them has taken a few HUGE steps towards people friendly. She actually let me and a coworker pet her and she loved it!

We have done a lot of paperwork recently. I went through all of the files for the dogs, cats, puppies and kittens making sure all of their papers were there. For the cats I had to make sure they had FIV/FLV negative tests, their microchip, spay/neuter certificates, and boosters. The dogs on the other hand had their spay/neuter certificates, rabies shots, boosters, and three other common shots for dogs. Then we had to take every file since 2009 and make sure that they were in order by tag number. So I spent a good 4 hours sorting tags from 7000 - 9000. That was fun.

But other than that I have socialzed with many adorable dogs and cats.


Summer at the CCF

This summer, I will be working amongst the world’s leader in cheetah conservation… the Cheetah Conservation Fund. I was accepted for a student internship position and on May 29th, 2011 I shall be arriving in Otjiwarongo, Namibia… the location of the CCF Headquarters. I am very excited for this opportunity and I plan on making the most out of my experience. I’m not exactly sure on my specific responsibilities as of yet, as that is determined when I arrive, however whatever I am assigned I shall do my best at. I’ll be documenting my time at the CCF here, so I hope you follow along.

I'm currently making the final preparations for the summer and figuring out the annoying logistics involved with flying to a different continent. I plan on leaving on either the 26th or 27th of May here from Atlanta to Johannesburg, South Africa. I haven't decided on those dates yet because of my connection from Johannesburg to Windhoek, Namibia, but I will be deciding that within the next couple of days (it's getting really close). Hopefully I will be able to post an update between the time I leave here and arrive at the CCF and maybe I'll have some pictures of Africa too! Below is a map of Namibia where the CCF is located.

If you would like more information about what I'm doing this summer or would like to see more pictures, look to my separate blog here ( Feel free to ask questions or comment below. Until next time…

- Eli Walker

Friday, May 20, 2011

Upper Delaware S&RR

This summer I will be interning as an interpretive park ranger with the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River in Pennsylvania and New York. I'll be working at informational kiosks along the river, educating people and ensuring safety. I'll also be patrolling the river by canoe, talking with visitors and making sure they are wearing life vests. Another task of mine will be to create and present educational programs about different aspects of the park and the environment.

For the past week I've been training and getting to know my fellow interns and seasonal rangers. The blue house below is where myself and 2 other interns will be staying for the summer. It's located in the extremely small town of Lackawaxen, PA (a lot like Unity), and practically sits on the Delaware River.

Our house is right in front of the Roebling Bridge, the oldest existing wire suspension bridge in the U.S. It was originally built as an aqueduct for the Delaware and Hudson Canal by John A. Roebling (the same guy who designed the Brooklyn Bridge). Right down the street from us is the Zane Grey museum, which the park service also owns and operates out of. I never knew how much history actually surrounded the river until I got this internship.

The past few days have consisted of lots of sitting, listening and reading. We started the week at park headquarters, meeting the superintendent and listening to various people talk about what their jobs are there. The next few days were spent at the Zane Grey Museum, learning about interpretation, the history of Zane Grey and the museum itself. We also learned about the Roebling Bridge and kiosk operations, and also received various pieces of equipment to use throughout the summer (radio, life vest, paddle, dry bags, binoculars, uniforms, etc.).

I took the above picture on Thursday when we had our tour of the park. It is from a lookout above the river called Hawk's Nest. The tour took pretty much all day because the park stretches about 73 miles. We saw where all the different accesses and kiosks were, along with other hot spots on the river. On Friday we took a trip to the Delaware Water Gap and pretty much just explored all day.

The river and the area around it is beautiful, and I've seen a bald eagle nearly every day I've been here so far. Everyone I've met so far is very nice, and they're willing to help you out if you need anything. My housemates and I have gotten along great so far, and I'm excited to get to know them more throughout the summer. I'm excited to start working, and I'm more than proud to be a part of the Upper Delaware S&RR, which is helping to preserve this amazing piece of the natural world.


Birds, birds, everywhere

With my first week at Horizon Wings complete, I was only able to put in 3 days of my internship. It's been raining so much here in CT that it's hard to get anything done. Monday it was down pouring so it lead to an interesting ride to work. When I arrived at Mary-Beth's house I was greeted by not only her and Jeanne but four dogs, around 7 cats, and Teddy. Teddy is a very vocal African Grey who loves to talk to people and have his own phone calls with himself. We got settled in and I was given to run down of what a typical day might be, what projects are going on, and some things I should expect.

After that we made a little trip outside and I was given a tour of the backyard where all of the aviaries are kept. We started at the rehab shed which only had one occupant at the time. There was a HUGE grey screech owl in there that we might be keeping as an education bird. Then they gave me a tour of the rest of their resident birds. They currently have a Bald eagle, Kestrel, two Screech owls, Broad winged hawk, Peregrine falcon, Red tailed hawk, Great horned owl, Barn owl, Barred owl, and a Raven. They also have a two Barred owls in rehab, a younger one and an adult, and a Red tailed hawk. Then there is Chappy, a Red tailed hawk we are training to give to Hope from Wind over wings. After the tour we took out the baby barred owl to get a weight on him and then they allowed me to put him back in the nest box. He was such a fluffy little booger. The last task of the day was to measure out carpeting for perches. While we were doing that they let me try and hold the Kestrel.

Thursday we traveled down to Tyl middle school to watch Hope from Wind over wings give one of her last presentations before the farewell tour. I would have to say she is an amazing speaker. She did an hour long presentation with a Screech owl, Peregrine falcon, Golden eagle, and Great horned owl. The way she was able to tell the story of each of the birds while incorporating in the facts about the species. The kids really seemed to like it and paid attention. Hope is moving up the Maine, so maybe just maybe we'll see her at Unity sometime.

Now yesterday was my super busy day. The first thing I got to do was hold the baby Crow that we might be keeping while Mary-Beth cleaned out his bedding. I then got to learn the feeding routines for most of the birds, including who gets what and when. They feed the hawks in the morning and the owls at night, that way it makes you doubt check everyone. After feeding we went to check on the rehab birds. Thursday night they picked up a Red tailed hawk that they think has a neurological issue, so that was our newest resident. They looked like they were doing alright. We cleaned out the Screech owls carrier and cleaned out the Red tails. Mary-beth and Jeanne also gave the bird a shot and some saline to keep it hydrated.

After that I shadowed Jeanne with their routine for cleaning out the aviaries. I then was off to clean out four of the aviaries on my own. This meant pulling out carpet from hide boxes, picking up left over food, scrubbing perches and anything that needed to be cleaned. I had an awakening of animal care when I found a mouse that one of the screech owls had stashed away. Needless to say it was full of maggots. I was a little grossed out at first but it was whatever. I also pulled all of the water dishes and scrubbed those down. After all of the cleaning was done Jeanne and I worked on transferring with Chappy, or just simply passing him off. He did really well for only being worked with for 3 weeks. He's still a little nervous when you go to move your free arm around, but he calms down pretty quickly. Jeanne then took Chappy for a ride to work on him being in the travel box.

While she did that I was allowed to go in with their new Bald eagle. Right now they are just trying to get him used to being talked to have having people get close to him. After a little bit Mary-beth switched with me and I went to go handle Dakota the other Red tailed hawk. I was a little nervous being the last Red tailed I worked with was nuts. Though she was very friendly and didn't grip hard at all. Jeanne then let me go and put her back in her aviary. I had never worked with the removable jesses, let alone having the birds on my right had rather than my left. Dakota bated once when I went to walk into the aviary, but I got her back on the glove and walked her inside. I was then able to take her leash and jesses off without her flying away. I felt really accomplished.

We ended the day with a trip to the UCONN dairy bar and some birding. We drove around and Mary-beth showed me where some raptor nest were and where Kestrel boxes are set up. We had a great time, also Mary-beth and Jeanne told me various stories of birds they went to go and get.

I think the main thing I relearned this week is it's important to stay calm with any bird of prey. At one point during cage cleaning Julian the Raven came after me, being I was the newbie around. Jeanne calmly talked me through the whole thing and told me to just let him peg the bottom of my shoe a few times. She then distracted him so I was able to walk away. I wasn't nervous and understood Julian is just a feisty little bird. But if I did freak out the situation probably could have been worse.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Week Number One: Off to a great start!

Hey there hi there ho there!

I have just finished my first week here at Wildtracks, the manatee and primate rehabilitation center in Sarteneja, Belize. There is currently one manatee at the center, a calf named Twiglet "twiggy, twigs, twigatron (okay that last one is just me but I think it will catch on)" who is roughly 350 pounds. Being a manatee care intern, she is my super awesome assignment. I am responsible for letting her out into the lagoon and staying with her for two three hour shifts; one in the early morning and another in the afternoon. I also prepare and bottle feed her a formula at the end of both shifts. She is currently in the process of being weaned, so it's important that she's feeding on sea grass as we lessen the amount of formula given to her. Aside from Twiggy there is also a lot of cleaning to be done! Dishes galore!

As I'm sure you all know, manatees are quite vicious animals; dangerous creatures that stalk you in the night with their razor sharp teeth! Of course this is a lie, but Twiggy does like to try and eat my shorts and shoes; a delicacy I'm sure. She did try to swim between my legs when I wasn't expecting it though, and I was in fact taken down from behind the knees :)

This week I will be starting some data entry in relation to Twiggy's feedings; the center has fallen pretty far behind so I've got some catching up to do!

Until I type again!


Monday, May 16, 2011

Summer already?!

Wow I can't believe the summer is here! This is Heather again, posting for my second internship. This summer I will be working at Horizon wings, a Raptor rehab and education center in Ashford, CT. I start my first day tomorrow and hopefully by then end of the week I'll have an exciting first blog for everyone.
Till then...

Pet Orphans Internship

Hello to all!

The internship has started and it's going extremely well. I'm working with another student in this internship, Tony LeonGuerrero, ad we are having a blast. Our boss, Linda, has allowed us to work in different departments of the rescue. I lean more towards the medical aspects and he leans more on the training aspects.

The jobs that I get to perform is general cleaning of the isolation kennels and catteries as well as feeding, medicating and socializing. I deal with dogs that have kennel cough, diarrhea, parvo, and one girl with a distended vagina (a common thing after getting spayed). The puppy with parvo is doing a lot better and is very energetic and adorable. Besides working with the dogs I work with the isolated cats too. Ideal with cats that have trick (a disease dealing with the anus and bowel movements), upper respiratory infections and unadoptable behaviors.

While doing these jobs I've learned quite a lot about the medical world. I finally learned how to give a cat a pill successfully. Big step for me. I was also able to pet animals that before wouldn't let me near them. Big step for them. I also took some initiative today and went to a workshop to become a dog counselor. That means I'll be working with the public to match up possible adopters with good dogs. And match the dogs with good homes.

Hopefully the internship stays this exciting!


Monday, May 2, 2011

2011 Off To A Great Start

Welcome to the 2011 Internship Season. Students are wrapping up finals and getting ready to set on on internships and summer jobs around the country and globe. We are anticipating over 100 interns who have earned competitive internships with organizations like RAD Zoo, Grand Teton National Park, The Cheetah Conservation Fund. We look forward to your updates and photos.