Thursday, November 22, 2018

Rare plants recovering from management mishap



A couple of years ago while the fire lane on the south tract was being maintained or something, the tractor tires dug deep ruts into an area that had the highest concentration of  an endangered plant species called Polygonella basiramia that had been flagged in hopes the area might have been treated more gently.
There had been about 300 plants in this area.
Last year I checked the site and didn't find any plants there.
I checked recently and located a handful of plants, so perhaps they are gradually coming back.
I'll have to recheck next year to see what the status is.


Cleaning Up Cogon Infestation Again


One of the ongoing management challenges here has involved the control of isolated patches of cogon grass that have sprung up in a few locations inside the preserve.
Some have been successfully herbicided by FWC staffers, but some persist despite previous efforts.
One lies along the edge of the fire lane in the south tract.
I have resorted to periodically digging up the plants--it is important to remove the roots--and hauling them away for proper disposal.
Now that the weather has cooled, I have resumed the work.
The other day I filled two garbage cans with plants. I will come back to check on any stragglers I may have overlooked.
 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The explained and unexplained decline of rare plants

Little by little,  fewer individuals of some 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.