Friday, October 29, 2010

Smoke in the ashes

I went out to finish collecting some trash I'd found the other day.
A burn pile was nearby and so I began to level it with my rake.
That was mistake. The embers were stil live beneath and it started smoking.
I reburied it.
We may get some rain next week, which will extinguish it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The lupine are OK after fire

Just a followup from Friday's controlled burn. All of the lupine patches, two planted and two wild, came out OK.

The intriguing question is whether more will sprout this winter.

Just when you think you have things down at this place, a surprise appears. I still can't get over it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Prescribed fire followup

Prescribed fire turns out not to be a one-day affair.

Today Mike Perry was back on the site checking on hot spots to make sure there were no unexpected restarts of the fire. There were a few smokers, mostly stumps and an odd log, though he found one spot where buried carpet had ignited.

I meanwhile, was cruising the boundary with buckets and wheelbarrow in search of exposed debris that had previously been missed, I found about two truckloads worth.

Some other observations. The burn was pretty spotty in places. The western section, which frankly needed fire the least because some of it had burned a few years ago, was burned well. The eastern section, which had been heavily forested before the gyrochopping, was spottier.

Mike said one problem was that FWC may have waited too long after gyrochopping and the canopy, such as it is, was too far from the ground to carry the fire very well.

Friday, October 22, 2010

It was a good day to burn

Today was the first day Lake Blue had been burned in a planned way--ever.

I was an observer, watching the professionals at work..

I learned that the first thing you need to do is to burn a "black line," a line of burned area next to the fire lane that will help to contain the overall burn so that it doesn't jump the fire lane as easily.

Today's burn was sligthly complicated by my discovery last weekend of two spots where Scrub Lupine had sprouted for the first time ever documented by anyone to our knowledge. As a result of the fire more lupine may sprout. We just don't know.

The idea was to protect the plants we know about from fire until they've had a chance to bloom and produce seeds.

The other thing I learned a little more about is why wind matters. I knew wind direction mattered because you plan who the wind will affect. In this case, the plan was to make sure most of the smoke avoided the nearby residences as much as possible. The results were mixed. In the afternoon the wind shifted and was coming from the north, which meant it was pretty smoky for awhile in one of the adjacent neighborhoods.

The other factor is wind speed. You like it to have a little speed, 10 mph or so, I was told, to move the fire quickly through the landscape.

In addition, you want the fire mostly out by dark so smoke doesn't settle and become a major nuisance or safety hazard.

There was another interestsing effect. At various times of the day all of his had insects land on us. They varied. There were treehoppers, mantises, grasshoppers, beetles and true bugs.

Finally, I will obviously and not unexpectedly have more tash to cleanup now that I can see it more clearly on the bare, burned ground.

I've been waiting and hoping for this for years. It was a good day. Thanks, everyone.

Veni, Vidi, Ignis

The fire crew led by Mike Perry and Shane Belson arrived as advertised today. The burn was still going on as of late afternoon. I'll post photos and provide more details tonight.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Preparing for the fire

I learned this morning that the planned fire will happen tomorrow.
I helped Juliet tape off the area where I discovered the Scrub Lupine last weekend.
It will not be burned because the plants have not bloomed yet and put out seeds.
No one knows what kind of seed bank is out there.
By spring we'll have a better idea.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sandspurs, trash, birds

Interesting day.
It began with a routine work errand to remove sandspurs from the main path.
Along the way I watched a pair of American Kestrels seeming to have a dispute over the open territory that's probably a grasshopper bonanza for one of them.
When I reached the pines, I heard the Great Horned Owl calling. Breeding season is approaching for owls.
I looked down and saw a mound under the pine needles, I discovered a long-ago abandoned tire still on its rusty rim.
Nearby, I found more discarded stuff in a patch of saw palmetto .
It was quite a morning.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

See you on the lopside of the moon

Lopsided Indian Grass, one of our showier local native grasses, is flowering at the moment in scrub and flatwoods habitats.

It's the host plant of one of Florida's rarest butterflies, the Arogos Skipper, by the way, though you'll see a lot more grass than skippers in these parts.

Today I photographed some of the grass with the rising late afternoon moon far in the background.

New bird, new plant

While I was looking for butterflies today, I flushed a Wilson's Snipe, which is usually a bird you see near water, though not always. I'll add it to the vert list.

More interesting was the discovery of what appears to be a couple of small groups of scrub lupine, far from the introduced populations that are the result of seedlings propagated at Bok Tower.

If this proves out, it will be another previously undocumented population, one that has happily sprouted on protected land.

I guess the question is how the discovery will affect the boundaries of the planned burn since none of the plants has bloomed and the extent of the seed bank is unknown. I'll leave that discussion to the experts.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Making the walk-through gate more walkable

Ever since the walk-through entrance has been moved to one corner of the site, access has been mostly uninviting.
That's because tall grass has been growing in that area of the right way.
This weekend I launched an experiment.
I dug up the grass along a path to the entrance and laid down large pieces of concrete that had been dumped nearby to form a path.
Now the test is to see how it holds up and remains open .