My field work involves frequently putting up and taking down my tent. Last time I was at one of my low-elevation sites, I did as I always do: took the fly off and folded it up, knelt in the tent to pack up my thermarest and sleeping bag, put the poles and tent away. Finally just the footprint remained, the waterproof ground cloth that goes under the tent. I almost folded this up where it lay, but decided to shake it off in case there were spiders on it, as is often the case. I whisked it off the ground—and saw this:

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Hoping for no more than moderate success

For this next trip, I’m in the strange position of having to hope not to catch more than 23 juncos.

This has to do with those colored leg bands we put on the juncos in order to tell them apart. It seems that there is a general shortage of these: many colors are either entirely unavailable or backordered for an unknown amount of time. For the field season so far I have been limited to fewer colors than I expected, and I have been catching juncos faster than anticipated. By the end of our last trip, I was nearly out of color bands, not to mention distinguishable color combinations.

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Golden bycatch

There’s one species that we’ve been hoping to accidentally catch since we noticed it in our field sites.

(Well, we hope to accidentally catch pretty much every bird we see in our field sites, because we love having an excuse to handle birds. But this one has been especially fantasized about.)

We didn’t actually expect to catch this bird, though. It stays very high in the trees, much higher than our nets. I still don’t understand how we caught this bird, but we did! This one was not, to be totally honest, our absolute dream bird—that would be the male of this species, since the male is even brighter—but she was still very dreamy.

Click through to see her.

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