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.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Post-Irma Report From Preserve

I'm still finding some effects from Hurricane Irma, though there was no serious damage.
I found a couple of downed pine trees in the north tract.
The disturbance of the vegetation also exposed a tire lodged in some palmettos that I had never found before. I removed it.
I have made a few checks of the south tract and have found no damage so far.
I also saw some flagged areas that may indicate the boundaries of the next burn units.
Another observation is that for some reason fall wildflowers are only slowly appearing.
One plant that is notable by its absence is Scrub Blazing Star, which is usually common along the north-south path in the middle of the preserve. This year I have seen only two.
The only thing that has changed is that there was some bush-hogging that may have been preparation for a future burn by preparing a wider gap in the vegetation. The effect, as usual with this kind of mechanical work, has been to encourage the proliferation of Natal grass.
It is possible the Natal grass has outcompeted the Liatris.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Herbiciding The Fenceline


I had reported a patch of Cogon Grass in the northwest corner of the site and a Chinese
Tallow Tree along the west fenceline

The reaction appears to have been to spray herbicide along the entire fenceline, browning a bunch of native species ranging from dog fennel and winged sumac to scrub bay and sand pine.

I guess there was a special at Nozzles R Us last week.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

New Exotic Wildflower Has Benefits





(From top to bottom: Great Purple Hairstreak, Zebra Longwing, Black-dotted Spragueia, Gulf Fritillary)

There has been a lot of heavy breathing in the native plant community during the last few years about the appearance of another tropical exotic.
This one is Praxelis clematidea. It vaguely resembles some native wildflowers, but has a telltale scent of cat urine that clinches the identification.
It thrives in disturbed areas and is likely spread by mowing equipment because fire lanes are where I'm finding it here.
What I'm also finding is a lot of butterflies and other pollinators on it.
Today I found 13 species of butterflies, two species of moths and two species of wasps nectaring on this plant in the fire lane during a brief visit.
Interestingly, this was only my second sighting of Great Purple Hairstreak.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Clearing the entrances took some time

Thursday afternoon, with thunderstorms threatening but never delivering, I conducted my periodic work to clear the grass and other vegetation around the walk-through entrance and the gates.
There's a lot of Guinea grass  around the walk-through. I shortened it and some overhanging tree limbs with a sickle I picked up a few years ago.
I used a sling blade in other areas to deal with shorter grass and Ragweed at the northern gate.
One of the neighboring property owners had piled a lot tree debris nearby, partially blocking the road. I moved that material against the fence to keep the access more open.