Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fall Arrives In Earnest

Fall weather finally arrived this week about a month
 after the season's official arrival.
Yhis is the time of year when many of the early fall wildflowers are beginning to go to seed.
But this is the time when Garberia begins to bloom here, offered a renewed patch of color in the landscape after other colors fade getting ready for winter.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I Love October Here

I love to come to this place in October because of the

expected beauty I see and the unexpected bonus sights i run across.

I gave a tour during Central Florida Naturefest and then came back on my own for a more liesurely view.

I've been out here more than a decade and I still find it worth exploring because there's so much new to find.

Today I'll show you Blue-eyed Grass, Balduinia, Palafoxia, Lopsided Indian Grass in an oak hammock, A jumping spider at home in cactus hiding we and new, petite moth called a Harlequin Webworm Moth.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Plenty To Show For Nature Fest

I was out yesterday afternoon checking on more spots to show visitors Saturday during Central Florida Naturefest and I  wasn't disappointed.

The Habaneria orchids are already beginning to bloom in the bayhead. Octoberflower is everywhere. Lopsided Indian Grass is in bloom. So are Blazing Star species. I even saw some lingering Summer Farewell. It should be a good day.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Fox Again

I stopped by today to check on trails on the South Tract.
As I arrived, a Gray Fox ran across Hobbs Road.
I watched it run down the fire lane in the North Tract before it disappeared into the undergrowth.
This is the first time I had seen a fox in a few years. It's good to know the species is still there.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Lake Blue's Night Life

I had done some night invert surveys during the research on Polyphylla starkae, but last night was the first night I was seriously looking for moths.

My stakeout was a bench in a sandhill hammock. I spent about three hours.
The result was 20 species of moths or so.
I have more heavily into moth observation in the past month.
I'm gradually learning what's common and trying to sort out what I see to remember what is new and what is already on my list.
Here are some of the images.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The August Natal Grass Challenge

I'm  spending any rainless late afternoons I can weeding the newer lupine bed of Natal grass.
The idea is to give the lupine seeds in the ground from this year's flowering season a chance to propagate.
The Natal grass had a head start since it wasn't thinned earlier so I hope I can keep up with it once the initial work is completed.
I've put about seven hours in so far and have finished nearly half of the bed.
The survival rate of this year's seedlings has been low, but that was not unexpected. The weeding at least will give the next batch a fighting chance.
I'd also like to have the site looking presentable for the Central Florida Naturefest tour in early October.
The reason this site is a problem is because of the adjacent fire lane that is covered in Natal grass and will remain so until a canopy is re-established, but that will take years.
Perhaps more aggressive mowing of that section would help to suppress the seed heads. I don't know. This is one fecund, tenacious exotic.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Moth Among The Momordica

I was checking the plants in the sandhill area over the weekend when I saw something fly in the tangle of exotic vegetation that surrounds the preserve's endangered habitat.

It was a small moth, but what kind.

I got a brief look at saw that it was one of a group of moths with a tufted-looking tail  (anal tufts to you lepidopterists out there) , a Melonworm Moth (Diaphania hyalinata).

This common species is found in squash and melon patches, which is why it was thriving in a tangle of Momordica, an exotic vine that produces squash-like fruit.

New species to the invert list, by the way.   .

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Yelllow Day In Blue

I stopped by to check on things this afternoon.
There was a fair amount of things blooming and flying. Yellow was the dominant color today.

Phoebanthus, Partridge Pea,Pittyopsis and more as well as Cloudless Sulfur, Little Yellow, Barred Yellow and a couple of yellow moths I'm still trying to identify.

There were also the late summer long-tailed Zebra Swallowtails, Spicebush and Pipevine,too, in addition to some other less colorful species.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Weedy Summer Begins

Yesterday I removed four bagfuls of Cogon Grass from an area in the southeast corner.
I hadn't checked this area in a while. There was a small patch that has now expanded and needs to be controlled because it's 50 feet or so from  the only patch of Clitoria fragrans on the site.

By the way, the C. fragrans is doing just fine. My concern earlier that it may have been accidentally sprayed was unfounded.

The other weed problem is keeping Natal grass under control in the Scrub Lupine planting areas. It got out of hand last year in the southern planting. It was a particular issue for recruitment of new sprouts. There were a few this year and many didn't make it through spring, which is the first survival test.

The Natal grass can't always be pulled near the plants,I'm told, because the root disturbance could also be fatal, so better to not have it there in the first place.

The northern planting area has less of a problem and it did well this year so far.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Corona Fan Next Door

I went out after work today to resume working small trash collections in the windrows on the north side.
After filling one bag, I took a second bag and walked the fence line to see what was going on.
There was nothing but a few tossed CDs until I got near the end and found a couple of six packs worth of Corona beer bottles that had been tossed over the fence into the preserve, presumably by the people in the trailer on the other side of the fence.
There was some other debris, more than I had room for in the bag.
I spoke to a kid who lived there and asking him to tell anyone who was throwing  the bottles not to do it.
He, of course, acted as though he didn't know what I was talking about.
I'll be back soon with more bags..

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Removing Trash, Meeting New Neighbors

I've been working on some small piles of household trash that the recent rains have exposed in some of  the windrows along the northern fire lane.

It's mostly the usual mix of household garbage, most of it old. There has been a few new entries from some neighbors launching their detritus over the fence.

I did meet a new neighbor named Juan who said he has purchased the double lot in the middle of the block and is not only  cleaning up his property, but wants to clean up the debris between the fences. He also wanted to know if he could come inside the preserve fence to do some tree work to prevent damage to his new homes, which I told him would be perfectly OK.

There's a  poinciana tree that has seen better days, which is his main target.

It's good to have at  least one good neighbor.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Beetles, Roaches and Crickets, Oh, My!

I went out this evening to check on the status of the resident invertebrate population in early spring.
I brought my light, but not my chair, a concession to becoming an older person.
In an hour I saw a Sand Cockroach, a Mole Cricket and the Auburndale Scrub Beetle and a few assorted smaller beasties.
I just wanted to make sure everyone was home still.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter In The Scrub

Spring as arrived and as Easter approaches, the flowers are the right color--pink.
The Scrub Lupine and Roseling are blooming, adding some color to the landscape.
It's probably time for the biennial beetle survey.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Lake Blue Makes Nature Fest

I was pleased today to be invited to give a tour of Lake Blue as part of next fall's Polk County Nature Fest.
I'll have to do some planning to make this worthwhile.
This place is still relatively unknown to most people even though it's an island of preservation in a sea of development.
It's still mapped for industrial park on the county growth map. Go figure. State didn't want to change it when I asked a few years ago.
Anyway, some of the rare plants will be blooming still in early October, which should be cool for photogs. The lupines will not be among them, unfortunately.
The big educational opportunity will be to talk about the management challenges here, between vandalism and smoke management.
It should be fun.
Hope someone shows up.


Recleaning The Fire Lane

I went out over the weekend two check on things.
I found a few new lupine sprouts.
I spent most of the time in the fire lane.
The FWC folks finally came in for the promised fire lane mowing work.
That exposed a fair amount of trash from my dear neighbors.
I hauled out about three bags.
I'l go back and get the rest when I have more time or more daylight.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Good New Year For Lupine

Sprout Is In Upper Left

There are encouraging signs in the original planted Scrub Lupine patch.
Today I counted about 20 small lupines sprouting in the bare white sand.
There has been no significant recruitment up until now and having some is vital to the establishment of a sustainable population here to fulfill the goals of the recovery plan.
The other unknown is how many of these tiny sprouts will make it to maturity.
I guess we'll know in 2014 or 2015.
I say this because the initial planting in December 2008 involved somewhat larger plants. They bloomed for the first time in the spring of 2010.
I checked the newer planting area to the south cursorily. I found one sprout, but the Natal grass is so rife in parts of that planting area, it's difficult to tell. I didn't realize that planting area had not been weeded earlier or I would have tackled the problem.
The problem is aggravated by the fact that there's plenty of seed source for the Natal grass nearby because of the additional openings. It's too late to worry about that now. The damage has been done.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Another Preserve, Another Cleanup


I'd been doing wildlife surveys for several years in portions of Lake Wales Ridge State Forest in east Polk. One of the things that has bugged me for some time  was the accumulation of what appeared to be a lot of household trash in the woods next to the Lake Walk in the Water boat ramp, which is part of the forest property.

Two hours and six bags or so later the area looks much better.

There was a great amount of plastic waste, some of which was probably dumped there and some of which may have washed in from the lake during extreme high water, but there were many bottles. They were recycled.