Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The explained and unexplained decline of rare plants

Little by little, there fewer listed plants are visible here.
First came the Giant Orchids, which went from 25 to 0 as a result of the heavy equipment used for mechanical clearing before the site's first burn in 2008.
Last year some heavy tractor work along the north fire lane in the south tract made 300 Polygonella basiramia disappear, at least temporarily.

The latest decline involved Scrub blazing star (pictured above), which was a common sight along the north-south trail in the north tract. This week, at the height of the flowering period,  I found only one.
The area along the path had been mechanically cleared within the past year.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's recovery plan for this species  recommends preventing this plant being run over by off-road vehicles. I assume this would apply to equipment used for bush-hogging falls into this category.
I found a small group of about 7 plants along a new cleared path east of the path.
I have been unable to find any west of the path where the most were located during a survey about 10 years ago.
I don't have any idea why those plants are missing.
Anyway, the total number from the earlier survey was 40 plants and now there are about a half a dozen.
This merits a further examination.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

A new butterfly

Yesterday while I was checking for exotics and looking for new entries for iNaturalist, I saw two Polydamas Swallowtails.
This is the only species of swallowtail that is likely for this part of Florida that I had not recorded here, so I guess I have  the entire set. This brings the butterfly species total for the site to 56.
The northern fire lane is overgrown again, but the rest looks good.
The western  fire lane is once again producing some of the native wildflowers I was encountering shortly after the property opened more than 15 years ago.
I recently saw yellow colic root and yesterday I saw candyroot (Polygala nana), which I had never recorded here. Unofficial plant species total at 210 and growing.
I also finally was able to photograph and Eastern cottontail yesterday. It was sitting in the fire lane  near one of the gates.
It is one of 8 species of wild mammals I have recorded. FWC reported a ninth species--coyote--earlier this year, which is not surprising.
My bird list is up to 60 species, the latest addition being Eastern screech owl, which I added last year while moth watching.
The herp list sits at 23 species.
I haven't tallied the moth species here, but probably should.


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Lupine Season And More Fire Trash

The Scrub Lupine seedling population remains small so far. I've located only a handful so far. Last year at this time I had located about 80 plants, so I don't know what's happening.
The plants began emerging in late December, but whether their further emergence was  affected by a couple of cold snaps is something I don't know.

I flagged a couple of them today to provide me with some perspective if any more pop up.
I'm wondering whether any will emerge from the path just north of the planting area this year.
That path was heavily impacted by fire vehicles in recent months during the first-ever  prescribed fire for that portion of the preserve.
While I was checking today, I discovered some patches of household garbage I knew existed, but can see better thanks to the fire.
I hauled out a couple of bags and two buckets full of debris.
I also recorded some wildlife while I was there.

I saw an American Robin trailing a small flock of Cedar Waxwings. The two species sometimes flock together while feeding in the winter.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Merry Christmas & 2017 hit and misses

The scrub holly berries are finally red enough for  Christmas, so I feel in the holiday spirt
This has been a mixed year.
Despite a pretty good crop of seedlings last winter, none survived the spring drought.
The good news is that it appears some seedlings are emerging already, about a month ahead of when I expect to find them.
More good news is that FWC is burning some areas that have never been burned since the state purchased the property and even reburned a previously burned area.
Judging by the proliferation of cuts across the landscape, more burning will occur as soon as staff and authorizations are available.
I'm still finding a new pieces of debris exposed by the burn, but believe I have removed the bulk of them.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Still cleaning up following prescribed fire

I went out today and brought back 4 five-gallon buckets of garbage exposed by the recent prescribed burns on the north side of the preserve.

The bulk of the trash was household garbage and the largest number of items were baby food jars.
I also disturbed a Southern  Toad that was hiding inside the containers.
Habeneria floribunda (nee odentopetala) is beginning to emerge in the bayhead on the southwest corner of the north tract.
Some vegetation is beginning to resprout, but it will take time to appreciate the full impact of the fire.
I'm also beginning to see more mushrooms.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Fire continues on north side

FWC's fire crew, with assistance of Auburndale Fire Department, continued burning the northern sandhill habitat areas today.
I spent part of the morning collecting debris the fire on Thursday had uncovered.
Most of it consisted of bottles and cans, but I found an abandoned TV, the bottom drawer of a stove and an  old tire.
I found a Black Racer and a Ringneck Snake taking refuge under some debris and saw a Glass Snake Lizard in the open and one that wasn't quick enough for the fire.
I'll check back over the weekend or more debris.
Also, some FWC folks reported seeing a coyote, which is a first for the property.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Fire returns to the preserve

FWC fire crew was at the preserve this morning for a first-ever burn in the northwestern section.
This is a series of small, relatively cool burn to clear underbrush.
I was told a crew will come in later with chainsaws to clear some of the oaks to open the area to longleaf pine, which should be the dominant large tree in this part of the property.
On my way to take a look at the fire, I flushed three Wilson's snipes, which sometimes stop here during migration.
I got pictures of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Northern Mockingbird, but couldn't get a shot of Blue Jays to expand the iNaturalist list for this site.