MAPS — Bird banding with Tab

Written by: Joshua Smith, Student Employee

Tab Bommarito, left, and Ben Leitner carefully remove multiple birds from a mist net set across a trail. <em>Photo by Joshua Smith</em>
Tab Bommarito, left, and Ben Leitner carefully remove multiple birds from a mist net set across a trail. Photo by Joshua Smith
En route to a destination unknown to me, a recurring question that I have asked myself throughout the entirety of this year and this journey was, “How did I get myself into this and what sort of thrilling adventure lies ahead?”

Honestly though, the excitement on my end was contained by the lack of sleep. Tab and I left the Phoenix Area Office at 2:30 a.m. and started our journey to a remote location past the town of Superior, Arizona.

We set up camp at the location at 5 a.m. The dense forest was cool — colder than the stares your parents gave you when you did something bad.

All around, the wildlife was teeming. I was no stranger to these sorts of forests. When I lived in Japan, it was common to have to trek through forests to get to remote locations that were not marked by human paths. Still, the forest was intimidating as it was the host to creatures not normally found in the sprawling city of Phoenix.

Equipped with my 70-200mm lens, I had set out with Tab, Diane Laush, Ben Leitner, Wade Leitner and Pat Leitner to capture photos of the bird-banding process. Running around the forest to obtain these birds was an incredible experience. I felt like Indiana Jones. I occasionally (purposefully) fell behind the group to hum to myself the theme song from the movie.

In all seriousness, I wanted to take this trip because I wanted to learn about Reclamation. There is so much more that these other divisions do that I am not aware of physically. I get to see these things on paper, but to see it in person is different.

After the group finished banding the birds for the day, Tab and I went out to inspect his cameras. It was no longer 5 a.m. and we were not covered by the shade of the forest. By 12 p.m., we were on the way back to the area office. I longed for the air conditioning in the car in the same way my dog eagerly awaits his mandatory belly scratch as I arrive home. I slumped into the passenger seat, closed my eyes and prepared for the journey home.

I definitely have an appreciation for each division here at Reclamation. After taking this trip, I can say that I am beyond astounded by the duties the Environment Group has done and continues to do.

Published on July 15, 2016