We arrived in Eugene, OR and from there we traveled five hours to good old Burns/Hines, OR. Our research site is several miles long located along Wright's Point in Burns. Will has been helping Pete with his research on the side-blotched lizard, Uta stansburiana, while Lizzy studies the social behavior among the lizards and their home-ranges. In the colder morning hours we catch as many lizards as possible to bring back to the lab and collect morphology data. The second (warmer) part of the day we spend mapping the topography of Lizzy's research area and conducting focal observations of the territorial lizard within their individual home-ranges. Besides the plethora of lizards and data we have been observing there are several other interesting species that reside in the area. We have seen up to 25 rattle snakes in one day! as well as bull snakes and racers. There are also a number of bird species including great horned owl, red-tailed hawk, sharp shinned hawk, vultures, and raven that have chosen the cliff as a nesting area. Temperatures have ranged between 70 and 90 degrees with little or no cloud cover, but this warmer weather is ideal for lizards in means of reaching their ideal body temperature for higher activity levels.
After Will left, I continued to work at my research site each morning and afternoon. Weather has been holding out and it has been hot, hot, hot and the skies above remain clear and blue. A systemic census is carried out by Pete and myself each morning when we arrive at my study area and afternoon before we leave. When I am not censusing I am doing focal after focal on lizards selected randomly from a list. Lizards are identified by a painted white number on their backs read from tail to head. By focaling these lizards I will give myself a better understanding of their social behavior and home range. Besides focal observations, I am also finishing up mapping the quality of home range of my study area. The view from Wright's Point is beautiful and as Pete says "it is an international birding mecca." I have not only seen herds of antelopes, wild Kiger mustangs, as well as a myriad of bird species which harbor this area as a nesting ground in the summers. Some birders may be jealous of the birds I have added to my life list I have developed while in Harney county. Several bird species I have seen include blue and white egrets, sand hill cranes and chicks, poorwills, sharpshinned hawks, kestrals, red-tail hawk, quail, pelicans, and yellow headed and red winged blackbirds. As for now, I'm off to the lab to work on my new data. My new nickname has recently been "data-mill."
-Lizzy Finan '08