The Sipp

Well, the final week of my internship has come and gone.

A few of us went down to Bon Secour NWR to try and catch a sea turtle hatching at one of the sites on the beach. But to my dismay, they sensed I was coming to the area and hatched a day later after I had left. The fact I even got to go down there was cool and sees how Gulf Shores and a NWR interacted with each other.

These 10 weeks have been challenging and rewarding, and I am grateful for the experience SCA, CDIP, and USFWS has given me to help me grow as a person and try to not freak out every time I saw a water snake slithering in the water.

I mean I’ve wrestled snakes, learned the hard way I’m not allergic to poison ivy, lost the feeling in my elbows from being bit from so many mosquitoes, horseflies, gnats, etc.

I’ve conquered fears of most amphiumas, bats, not frogs, and actually had a chance to visit the state of Mississippi. I even learned a good bit of history that wasn’t all bad.

But the biggest thing I got out of this summer was the growth of my character. Through adversity, I stuck to the values and morals my parents bestowed upon me. And there was a good feeling when my supervisors from my previous year congratulated me on keeping up the good work. It sometimes hardly seems like work because I’m having fun over half the time.

Another thank you for the experience from this summer tithe people who made it possible to use the internet so I could blabber on about my life to everyone in the world.

So.

Buh-bye.

Kelly Clarkson

Hey.

So yeah.

Just finished my 8th week down here Sippyland. Got about 2 weeks left.

After taking a few off, I am BACK.

IN ACTION.

HOLD ME BACK.

Sorry, I just drunk coffee. I barely ever do because I get spazzy. 

Well any-who…

Doing some trail maintenance with the interns, got to use my ATV/UTV training from last summer at Patuxent. Doing trail work relaxes me. Maybe it is from my need to make things look pretty, but man did I make it look pretty.

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Trail so clean, you can eat off it. Not literally. Unless you were a boar. 

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The Whip.

Got to do some banding today up at Coldwater. I thought it would be a lot more hectic, mainly because I still associated geese with ducks. Because geese are jerks.

Trust me on this one.

But they were cute, the little wood ducks. Didn’t hiss or poop on me or chase me down the street while I was jogging or fly into the car while singing “Since U Been Gone” while I was driving. No-no-no.

Geese can’t be trusted.

Well we caught about 6 or 7 ducks I believe, such of which were already banded. It is cool how the male wood ducks grow these evil red eye like they are an evil villain. Their feathers are quite beautiful also. I see when Jimmy Neutron’s dad was obsessed with them.

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Banding at Coldwater action.

The Eyes.

Well that is all for now.

'Til next time.

A Man and His Tree

So there is this tree.

This Tree.

In the middle of a field at Tallahatchie, one of our sites we manage and do surveys at. Their is a grand forest right behind it full of Cyrpus and Tupelos, just to name a few.

But this tree is different with its wide base and red hickory leaves. While everything behind it stands grand and tall, this Danny Devito looking tree to every other tree’s Dolph Lundgren built makes it appear to be different.

I know trees that grow out in the middle of a field are not going to have the same look of trees that have to grow close together that have to grow tall because it is crowded, but I am drawn to it.

yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah, me know.

Maybe it is special because Morgan Freemen blessed it? 

Eh, I don’t know.

The Jig Is Up

It’s amazing.

Really.

These punks go around with their big, meaty claws, thinking they run the swamp. 

The perps? 

Crayfish ‘n’ Minnows.

The crime?

Well nothing. But I got cool sunglasses at Walmart for $7.98. So the crime technically would be the low prices.

Well…

We’ve been catching a lot of wildlife while working with the biologists. Sometimes I understand why we capture them, sometimes I don’t understand why we won’t just eat the crawfish. I mean come on…

We literally caught over at least over 100 of the Red swamp crawfish. I can’t live off of just tuna and macaroni & cheese forever.

Just to let y’all know.

I know people say crayfish. 

I don’t care.

Just a few action-packed photos.

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Red Swamp Crawfish.

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Ricky keys us in on some local thugs running things up at the Fish Hatchery.

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Minnow trapping for your minnow trapping?

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Wood duck box, CHECKED.

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Drownin’ in the cray.

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There’s a snake in my boot…

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Bait sites up at Coldwater. Strike the pose.

Interlude C: Mr. Snake-Nitty Snake

Had a dream last night.

About snakes.

I’m not too real into snakes.

So this would actually be considered a nightmare.

Well…

Let me explain…

A little background before I tell the story. I’m not this biggest fan of amphibians in general. Not because of their sliminess. Or their obnoxious ways of normally not chewing their food (rude). Or their cold-blooded, backstabbing ways. Or their inability to get a job because they are always “hibernating.”

NO! None of that bothers me.

It’s two types of species actually. The one I’m going to whine about today are snakes.

We have all kindzzz of snakes down here along the delta of Mississippi. Like the cottonmouths, water snakes, mud snakes, green snakes, just to name a few.

Okay onto the story…

I’m in the park on a bench with a fellow Jonny Boy. I’m chilling with the 14 year-old version of an actor from The Walking Dead, aJon Bernthal, who plays the character the “snakish” Shane Walsh*. So as I’m sitting with Jonny Appleseed, a huge, 18 foot-long rough green snake tumbles out of the trees standing above us, but doesn’t quite hit the ground.

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Cold-Blooded Killer.

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Well not really. Rough green snakes only grow about 7-8 inches long and are typically docile. 

You see, the snake almost lands on us but is caught by a few Virginia creeper vines. As I shriek and flail my arms while rolling away in a Tom Cruise-esque manner, the serpent looks me dead in my eye. It can’t move. It is not just caught in the creeper. It is  delicately double-knotted in the vegetation at the front and back part of its lanky body. Maybe a Sunshine Girl Scout wanted to get her “Bear Grylls” merit badge by anaconda choke holding an anaconda.

Well, at this point, me and nega-Jon are laughing at the creature after 5 minutes of constant sobbing in thinking we weren’t going to make it home to watch the next episode of iCarly. As we turn to walk away, smiling and giggling that the creature is caught in this ludicrous manner, I hesitate.

Hesitate.

Hesitate.

Hesitate.

Crap.

I turn to look at the snake.

This animal, this rumored vile, thing I and the rest of society deemed a monster.

A villain.

Evil.

Doer of dastardly deeds.

Looks up at me again with little, beady dark eyes in a Copica style manner. As though it is just tired of living.

But is afraid to die.

yeah, looks up at me, as though asking “what it did to deserve this.” 

So Jonny 2x4 and I, reluctantly untangle this snake out of the tree. It drops down with a thunderous thud and proceeds to slither away into the bushes. Without a thank you or recognition to me or Jonny Bravo.

Was there something I gained from this dream? Any values or increased moral or theme I would like you guys to get from this story? 

Probably not because today while trying to catch frogs, a little rough green snake charged at me with intention for drawing blood and I hauled my tail out of there.

On a serious note, not all snakes are bad and not all snakes are good. But all animals have a certain system or code of ethics they work by. Most want to be left alone. Which is important that we continuously study them (wink, wink US Fish & Wildlife Service). I’m not going to tell you I looked into an eye of a snake and saw its soul and became a vegan because all animals have shouldn’t be eaten, yadda-yadda.

I won’t because Sonic has summer shakes half off at 8.

But maybe we shouldn’t call something evil just because it slithers in tall grass and swallows their prey whole. 

Okay, guys? 

Well…

I’m gone.

*The character Shane Walsh is known for undermining his best friend/ main protagonist of the story by sleeping with his the main character’s wife, murdering the innocent, and just be reckless to where everybody gets in danger.

I Think I’m The Batman

Thursday.

Hour ‘til midnight.

It’s warm.

76.

Fahrenheit. 

Not Celsius.

Probably implied though.

We Americans are hipsters when it comes to our measurement of temperature.

Anyways.

90% humidity. 

4 people.

2 nets.

And thousands of bats to capture at our fingertips.

Well not literally…

There are over 1,200 species of bats, but we were mostly looking at 8 common species of bats in the area. Mis-netting was the game. And I was feeling a little catchy-y. 

 We used a smaller net and higher net for catching the little buggers, checking every 10-15 minutes. Probably should use those things to catch criminals at night because those fine nets are almost impossible to see and they pick up everything

From about 8:30 pm to midnight,  we caught 3 bats that were all the Southwestern Bat. One was lactating in her stage of the reproductive status. I actually was a little disheartened she already started lactating, for I throw killer pup (baby bat) showers.

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Her thirst for human blood was undeniable.

This was also significant event in my life because I got over a fear of mine. Which wasn’t toddlers who eat the pepperonis off of pizza anymore, but bats. I had a fear of them since the age of 11. Every summer of every year since the 6th grade, a few bats came down from the attic and flew primarily in my room hitting me while I slept. What were they after? My blood obviously. But you guys know the story, I became the caped crusader peeling out of my driveway with my 12 speed, yadda-yadda.

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Andrew and I taking measurements for a flying mammal

It’s just one of those moments that you revisit from your childhood that you never quite expect it to be so adorable and important. People may think of bats as pests, but they can actually help solve pests problems. And through the process of chiropterophilly, they help pollinate hundreds of plants. And you know we need pollination right?

So you know, like, so we won’t die.

And dying sucks because you guys wouldn’t be able to read this fantastic blog of my great experiences in Mississippi in a gibberish manner.

So to the next bat you see, say thank you. It may not understand a word you said, but through echolocation they will catch insects buzzing around your head barely invading your personal space as you scream “that thing almost took my head off, oh my god I’m going to post this on Twitter.”

I think eating mosquitoes around your hair means you’re welcome. 

Oh well.

'Til next time.

Tough Guy Larry

Do you want to know how tough I am?

I stepped on the back of a Cottonmouth Snake and only cried for 15 minutes.

Okay, I’m exaggerating only 5 minutes.

At the moment, just finishing out the 4th week of the internship down here in the current 95 high-that-actually-feels-like-112 degree weather Grenada, M-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I-P-P-I

We have been clearing out an area onsite for a graveyard with historical significance near Phillip, MS. It’s cool to see the transformation of an area and help people find their ancestors deep inside the forest.

Guess where we traveled to…You guessed it!

Elvis Presley in Tupelo, MS to visit a DOI fish hatchery and actually see what they do with species such as Alligator Gar, Large-mouth Bass, and Crayfish. They had some cutting edge technology and met some local YCC talent.

And I got some turtles.

 Don’t be messin’ with my herps.

Besides that, me and the other intern have been doing general maintenance projects and using our young, able bodies to help out wherever we can. Should be starting on some bio projects next week though, looking forward to that most definitely.

Isaac Coleman showing us the ropes. Mr. Roby photobombs…


Even though this town may seem a little slow and all (well I’m the one to talk, I go to college in the middle of Georgia), I’ve adjusted to the kind of slow paced town atmosphere. 

But I understand why it is slow paced.

It’s not just hot. It’s disgustingly hot. And humid. 

But the little things are what matter the most, honestly. I mean I found some supplies around the complex to make into a mini workout.

I used the old birdhouses to do “birdhouse throws.”


And also it doesn’t take much to entertain me anyways. I chased rabbits for like 2 hours last evening.

Buh-bye ‘til next time folks.

Perfect Weather Forever

My alarm clock screams directly into my ear to wake me at 6:23 am. What an attention seeker.

It’s a boggy Thursday morning, second week of my North Mississippi USWFS CDIP internship. Acronyms for y’all folks! The weather has been nice for the most part. Mainly because of the looming showers that keep approaching cools down everything until Mr. Poseidon brings down the fort with a run of wind and rain. Or it’s disgustingly humid and hot and all the gnats, queetas, and ticks want to have a welcoming home party. Ain’t too bad though. I’m a Whiting after all.

For the first week and half (like I said before) we have been putting up these enclosures to study the effects these wild hogs have in certain areas.

That’s really cool honestly. But you know what?

I haven’t seen one geesh dern hog! 

I’ve seen:

Alligators

Snakes

Woodpeckers

Bobcats

You know, animals!

But one I wanted to see the most?

See, capture, and maybe-perhaps-probably-not wrestle one to the ground.

You know what I mean by one. 

WILD HOGS!

(Sigh)

In other news…

A Mr. Isaac Coleman, CDIP All Star, also our (Andrew and I) caretaker for the first two weeks, has helped out tremendously. Showing us around town, helping us get familiar with the 3 different refuges, offering us relationship advice, what may have you! Really good dude, glad he was here. Even though it was ONLY for a short time.

Oh I blew something up too.

Well it was for a dam holding up the water flow. I was hesitate at first. Actually I declined to even though. But thanks to the proper precautions and training I was able to save a small stream. Score one for me.

Last thing for this week, I wanted to clear this up for people who haven’t been to Mississippi. It ain’t a terrible place where there’s just atrocities happening everywhere. Don’t believe Django Unchained. 

It’s a beautiful state. It has it’s good parts and it’s bad parts. Probably the cleanest state I’ve been too. People here all wave and smile to everyone with their Confederate flags flapping in the wind in their painstakingly mowed lawns. Yeah, people here looked at me funny with my dreads (bald now) and my purple and teal polka dotted socks and ATCQ shirt on walking into. But it’s okay to stare.

I had purple and teal polka dotted socks on. 

'til next time…

Few photos from “Ding” Darling NWR orientation

(I was Teddy)

Sweet Cornbread & Feral Hogs

Well.

I’m back with USFWS in the Career Discovery Internship Program. This time I took my talents down to the south banks of Yalobusha River at North Mississippi Refuges Complex in Grenada with fellow CDIP intern Andrew. Sites include Tallahatchie, Coldwater, and Dahomey Refuges, all managed by the complex.

Long, long country roads with tall stalks of corn ain’t too unfamiliar with me. I mean, I was born in the Southeast with family stretching from the city of Baltimore all the way down to actually where I live, the coastal plain of Richmond Hill, Ga. People may look at me a little funny here (or maybe at my polkadot socks and the fact I’m an oversized dude) down in Grenada from the first week I got settled in, but we shall adjust with each other. Or try…

After having orientation in Sanibel, Florida and meeting a lot of good people, I feel as though I might have gotten to sort of a standstill in relation to the growing process. 

Maybe it’s tuned down to some sort of gradual increase against last summer in Patuxent (which was sudden incline in growing) to more than a halt, not sure. My mind is content, and at this stage I don’t want it to be. Yeah, I’ve done more than most other college students at this point in their education, but the main goal I want to get out of this summer is this:

To find a passion. Find something I can’t live without, besides all the other guy stuff everybody does.

Well my goa since I was 14 was-and-is always to find a passion. No need to waste time.

Hearing all these college students from across America talk about their dreams, aspirations, loves, etc. at orientation, I don’t have any specific professional goals or dreams in life. I feel as though I’m walking around aimlessly through a forest, asking abiotic factors what the hell I’m going to do for a job. Yeah I love to play Xbox, run around in all these racing  events, and the sweet taste of cornbread. You know, manly stuff. But this summer, i gotta find something. and tangle with a few invasive species along the way. 

I don’t know what it is i’m looking for. Could be something in my major, could not be.

But into the land of the Cotton & Catfish Capital of the world. Searching for…