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Wildlife and Shenanigans – Elizabeth Fincher

One of the highlights of my first semesters in Warnell was the Vertebrate Natural History trip to Sapelo Island off the coast of McIntosh County, Georgia.

elizabeth1

Birdwatching and Bonding

One of the best parts of the rip to Sapelo Island was the bonding experience with my classmates. From the five hour drive to the island to our early morning birdwatching exploits, the trip was filled with bonding, exploring, learning and simple fun for my Warnell classmates and me.elizabeth2

Seigning, Herping & Trapping Oh My!

Our days on Sapelo started early and ended late. We had less than a weekend to pack in as much exploration and adventure as possible. In the cold March weather, seigning proved challenging, but we did the best we could. Our attempts at herping unfortunately yielded no amphibians or reptiles, but we were excited to see one lone alligator in the marsh outside our dorm. Although all of our efforts to trap some of the creatures of Sapelo Island were not entirely successful, we did manage to excel at having fun.

elizabeth7Spotlighting in the evening resulted in the observance of a number of deer on the island. It was fascinating to watch the deer on Sapelo as they were mesmerized by the lights and remained still long enough for us to observe them. We were also surprised to see wild cows on the island. No one seems to know how the cows got on the island. There is only one male among the wild cows of Sapelo, and he is understandably quite legendary.

Castleberry was Batman

elizabeth4Dr. Castleberry maintained his reputation of being “Batman” by wearing a different one of his massive collection of bat shirts each day. He has no shortage of cleverly designed shirts with bats on them. Thanks to Dr. Castleberry’s trapping talents, our bat study proved fruitful.

Other nature treks in the freezing March temperatures included a trip to a high point on the island to observe an eagle’s nest.

After enduring a frigidly cold ride in the back of a truck, along elizabeth3with being drenched with rain and covered in mud, we were rewarded by getting to see an eagle poke its head out of the nest.

We cooked our own meals, played volleyball for recreation and watched Into the Woods at night before hitting our dorm rooms to get some much-needed rest in preparation for the adventures of the next day.

We rode our bikes around the island, managing to get lost, stopped to act crazy in the wetlands and eventually found our way back.

Returning to Reality

elizabeth6The Warnell trip to Sapelo will remain one of my fondest memories of my college experience. As my time at Warnell draws to a close, I will continue to treasure the friends I have made in this wonderful program, and the professors and teaching assistants who have helped validate my decision to make the study of wildlife my life’s work.

elizabeth5I hope the students in my program will remain my friends for life, and I cannot wait to find out what the future holds for me as I pursue a career that supports my love of nature, conservation and wildlife.

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