Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Faunal taxa expand

Hey, this place ain't just about plants. Well, it is, but I'm looking for other stuff to list. Within the past week I have expanded my bird and butterfly lists, though modestly. I spotted a couple of White Pelicans overhead the other day and today I found a Question Mark butterfly. That brings the bird list to 49 and the butterfly list to 36. The plant list is over 200, so unless I can identify a lot more invertebrates, flora will rule..

Sandhill discovery

When I find a new plant now, it's usually something non-descript, but not this time. When I was hosting T.J. Coburn, a biologist I know, she saw an unfamiliar plant in the sandhill area on the north tract and wondered what it was. I did, too. I waited for it to bloom, but still couldn't quite figure it out, so I waited for the Archbold crew. They didn't know what it was, either. As Eric joked, when they don't know what something is, they're plant ecologists, not botanists. As it turned out it was relatively widespread species called Ceanothus microphyllus. It is quite lovely when it's in bloom, but the flowering period is relatively short, or at least it was this year.

Sand Skink success

I completed two more routes on the Sand Skink project today. It was tough finding my way through the heavy woods on the east side of the tract. I need to cut more trails and put out more flags to save time. Near the end I got onto the next transect, that's how confusing it was. I'm still finding some disturbed boards. I wonder if the fox is doing it. Also, today I saw an Armadillo going into its burrow in the woods on the way along the second track. I see a lot of Armadillos, but I don't see them at home very often.

Missing sand skinks

I began checking my Sand Skink boards Tuesday after work. I got onlyl one possible hit, though it appears some of the board locations were not well chosen because the ground is too rooty. I may have to reposition a couple of them. Also, some of the boards in south fire lane have been moved. I wonder who has been moving through. The ground is too vegetated to see many tracks. Checked the north tract for dirt bike activity. There didn't appear to be any new tracks. Perhaps the signs worked.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A weekend well spent

I took the tires and the propane tanks to Haines for proper disposal on Saturday and then returned to finish putting out the last of the Sand Skink boards. After I finished, I also collected some of the iron I didn't get the other day and picked up a couple of bags of trash, which are now on their way to the landfill. I went back to the terraforming site on Sunday afternoon, but concluded morning is a better time to work there because it is shadier (and cooler). While I was at it I found another tire. Time to start the collection again.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Tires and shredded glass

Yesterday I went out to retrieve some tires and propane tanks from the fire lane behind the First Avenue homes. The lane looks more open since I cleared some of the thickets, but the trash over the fence in some places remains undiminished. I encountered a pool of shattered glass. I will have to go out and clean that up. Right now the priority is getting the Sand Skink survey routes set up. There were more surprsies there, too. I found another small accumulation of iron debris--chairs, a cabient or something and what was probably a fire pit at one time, but is now a water pit with organic debris. This will require a shovel.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Islands of rubbish

Another observation from the sand skink project. I certainly need to give some attention to digging the trash from the mounds along the fire lane on the west side of the south tract. There's a regular garbage archipelago. I can see a garden hose and some assorted cans and bottles. I'm sure there will be surprises. This place hasn't disappointed me yet.

A mysterious triangle

After I finished putting out the sand skink boards Thursday and I was making my way to the fire (albeit the wrong one), I encountered what I can only conclude was some kind of makeshift cooking platform. There were three pieces of iron arranged in a triangle around a concrete block with a round piece the size of a frame under a gas burner. I'll retrace my path sometime and haul out the rest of it. This is on the northeast corner of the south tract, which is heavily wooded. There are also a lot of downed trees that have fallen over the past four years. After the sand skink project is over, I probably need to come up and clear what I can of these obstructions.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Happy days/vindication

March 7 was a great day. I hosted the crew from Archbold--Eric Menges, Carl Weekley and three students. They were interested in Liatris and Nolina and the general layout of the place. I gave them a pretty good orientation tour. Only one of them (Eric) had visited the site before. They were impressed by the number of Nolina. I also showed them the orchid site, though no plants were visible. I was pleased to see they had plotted my GPS data. After all of the grunt work I've done out there, I was pleased to see it is being put to some productive use. I was really happy and felt vindicated that my instincts proved out.

As I understand the research project, it involves the ongoing debate about mechanical clearing vs prescribed fire. Mechanical (gyrochopping) is a quick and dirty way to open the canopy, but it seems to me it doesn't renew the landscape the way fire does, though it does introduce disturbance. At this site that could be something to be viewed cautiously. I saw cogon grass sprouting from an old fire trench. Bare disturbed ground is, unfortunately, an equal opportunity plant host.

sand skink update

It probably looks ridiculous, but it's working. I'm putting down sand skink boards in the south tract. The process consists of walking along a relatively straight line through the woods with the strap of my GPS unit in my teeth, a log book in my belt and plywood boards balanced on my head. I've got 50 board out so far, but have several to go. Yesterday it was cloudy and I had no guidance from the westering sun (I'd turned off my GPS unit) and came out the north side instead of the west side as planned. I found some more trash, though nothing major. I hope to have all the boards out by the weekend.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Company's coming

I got an e-mail from Eric Menges at Archbold that he and some of his folks are coming on Wednesday to map out some areas for a research project. I'm taking off from work to meet them. I think it has something to do with fire exclusion in preparation for some mechanical clearing. I hope to tag along without being too much of a nuisance. These guys know more botany than I'll ever know. Maybe some of it will percolate into my brain. I'll probably hit them up for an ID on that new plant in the sandhill area. It will be an adventure for me.

motorcycles, new signs, a mystery solved

I found swirling tracks in the sand, but it was way too big for a sand skink. It was a dirt bike. ATV on the island again. I put up some no unauthorized motor vehicle signs up this morning after FWC folks supplied them. I supplied the fence posts. As I was putting them up, one of the neighbors--I never can remember his name--came over and told me he saw a man and his young son coming in. He said he thought they were from down the road in the circle by APAC(nee Macasphalt). I'll see if the signs are a deterrent. While I was talking to him I learned that the gatecrashing that occurred a couple of years ago was not my ATV guy, but a domestic dispute in which one chased the other in a car and hit the gate. Love and the gate hurt on that one. In the p.m. I brought a hacksaw and divided a couple of long steel pipes, probably antenna poles that will never see analog TV again, into little truck size pieces for another ferrous run in a.m.