Sunday, August 31, 2008

Butterflies in the wind

After filling two bags full of Natal grass in my vain attempt at some exotics control and management, I turned my attention to butterflies.

Since the section of the site was opened mechanically, butterflies have been a lot easier to find. I noticed for the first time that I could remember that they were using some of the listed plants as nectar sources. I saw Cloudless Sulfur and Clouded Skipper visit Bonamia grandiflora and I saw Queens on Asclepias curtissi (and a fresh caterpillar the other day).

In addition, Gray Hairstreak were visiting Asclepias tuberosa with a generous five-flower spread. Gulf and Variegated Fritillaries were in their usual haunts.
Today's total was 135 individuals, composed of 14 species. The bulk of the numbers were Ceraunus Blue (42) and Barred Yellow (38).

I noted three species (Zebra Swallowtail, Queen and Barred Yellow) were copulating in flight.

This count may be a baseline for next year. I had good results despite windy conditions from Hurricane Gustav in the Gulf.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bagging & Piling

The work has turned to the mundane and laborious, but perhaps necessary.

I've been piling up some of the larger pieces of land-clearing debris in preparation for the air-curtain incinerator crew. I wasn't sure what was involved until I looked up some web sites and see that it involves bring the debris to a metal chamber where it is burned very hotly to reduce emissions. It occurs to be this was chosen to avoid smoke-management issues.

It also means there will not be a problem with the piles causing hot spots, since the only hot spot will be wherever the equipment is unloaded.

Meanwhile, I've been attacking the flourishing Natal grass growth that has been encouraged by the land-clearing and the plentiful rainfall. I don't know what kind of progress I can make, but I'm going to give it a try.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cleared ground yields new species

The gyrochopping that has cleared and disturbed the ground over a significant section of the north tract has produced mixed results. Initially, the exotics, particularly Natal grass and Ceasar weed, were sprouting as you might expect. But Dayflower has exploded as previously mentioned and some patches of Goldenrod (not sure which species) are popping up, a sure harbinger of some diversity. I've also encountered some plants that were unfamiliar except the fruit looked like tomatillo, an exotic. Turns out its a related species called Cutleaf Groundcherry (Physalis angulata), the latest entry in the Lake Blue plant list.
p.s. It's native.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Checking on the orchids

I went out today to the site where I've been able to dependably find Giant Orchilds (Pteroglosaspsis escritata) over the past five years. I saw a couple of shoots emerging. Their productivity varies from year to year (I was spoiled the first year when I found about 27 plants by this time), but I suspect the drought may have been an influence as well.

I did some more debris stacking and trash pickup this morning and walked the fire land on the south tract. Found a pallet, a homemade weapon and some trash.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Watering the lupine

I received a call from Nancy Bissett about volunteering to water an experimental batch of scrub lupine that Cheryl Peterson from Bok is planning to bring to the site in late fall.

It's good to be trusted with a role in this important project and it will give me something to look forward to.

There is a small matter of preparing the site, which is still not done, but t here's time, I suppose. I guess my concern in addition to the tree debris is the disruption of the earth (as in soil) that could provide an opening for Natal grass. I will have to be vigilant.

Passion in late summer

One of the salutary effects of the recent gyrochopping was some more opening for passionvine to spread. So far it has outcompeted the air potato

for space in one corner near the gate.

This has meant that Gulf and Variegated Fritillaries have arrived as well, laid eggs and are hatching larvae to continue the cycle.

These are common species, but it's good to encourage any native wildlife, no matter how seemingly commonplace.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Natal grass born too soon

I need to go out and deal with the Natal grass. It's invading part of the cleared area and I need to control it before it takes over this area as it has the fire lanes.

I wish they would come in an burn the debris. It might help (or not).