My field season here in southern California is in full swing. I’m out doing butterfly research in the Santa Monica Mountain Range several times a week (6 out of 7 days last week, 3-4 during a normal week). I often joke that butterfly work is much more pleasant than, e.g. bird work since butterflies sleep late and don’t typically fly during bad weather. While I can’t argue that my job is pretty darn pleasant, it’s still a lot of work and makes for some long days. I thought I’d keep track of a typical day in the field and share it here. I find it incredibly interesting how different a field day is for people who study different organisms, or who work in different parts of the world. If you want to share what your field day is like leave a comment!
5:30 AM- Awake.
6:00 AM- coffee and smoothie for breakfast while answering emails
7:00 AM- put together gear for the day. Refill camelback and water bottles (minimum of 3 liters of water for the day). Check sunscreen supplies. Pack extra socks. Put together food for the day. Restock glassine envelopes.
7:30 AM- double-check today’s field sites. Plan to visit 3 of my 23 sites. Today’s sites are in the western portion of the mountain range.
7:45 AM- load up the car and leave the house. Stop to fill the gas tank.
9:00 AM- arrive at site one. Slightly too cool for butterflies, so plan to spend a few minutes exploring a different section of trail. Do so, then discover I’ve accidentally spent almost an hour on ~1/2 mile of trail. Oops.
10:00 AM- 11:50- survey site 1. Count 16 species (and 95 individuals), including 2 of the Griffith Park 10. Cover ~3.5 miles.
11:50- water break for my field assistant.
11:55- drive to site #2. No time for lunch, so snack in the car while driving.
12:25- arrive at site 2. Count 11 species, 145 individuals. Over 100 of those are Hedgerow Hairstreaks. Overhear 2 dudebros who clearly have no concept of how sound carries in a canyon. Enjoy watching them look uncomfortable when I call them out on the racist stuff they were saying as they walked down the trail. Cover 4.5 miles of trail.
12:45- Water break for my field assistant.
2:50- drive to site #3
3:20- arrive at site #3. Stare, agog, at how dry it is compared to the last visit 3 weeks ago. Admire the beautiful, clear view of the California Channel Islands. Count only 5 species of butterflies (30 individuals), marvel at how many of those are migrating Painted Ladies. Cover 2.5 miles of trail.
4:25- Water break for my field assistant.
4:30- Check the traffic report and see that it will take two hours to get home. Drive to the grocery store for snacks for my field assistant and me.
6:50- prepare dinner for my field assistant
7:00- enter today’s data
7:30- document voucher specimens
7:45- shower, dinner.
8:15- answer emails
8:30 PM- read journal article
9:30 PM- bed.