Sunday, December 21, 2014

Indian Pipes Rediscovered

Indian Pipes The genus Monotropa ( Indian Pipes  and Pinesap) is an interesting one  that I don't know much about except that's it's an occasion when I find one.

The last one I saw was along the Suwanee River during a camping trip two years ago.
I found two today in the south tract about 100 feet from each other as I was roaming through the brush looking for suitable subjects to photograph on the first day of winter.
These are the first I'd seen here in about 10 years.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Lupine Population Declines

There were more than 100 flags at the preserve early this year to mark the location of seedlings.

When I checked today, it was hard to find many. The survival rate has been low.

Even one of the older plants in the volunteer site has disappeared and none of this year's seedlings has survived.

Blooms will be pretty sparse next spring because there are few mature plants.

Maybe there will be a good crop of seedlings.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Something Happened Here, Why It Did Ain't Exactly Clear

I was checking the fence line in the south tract after making progress remarking the trails I developed a few years ago.

I discovered a trail that apparently had been mechanically cleared in a rough way across the landscape from southeast to northwest.

I was amazed to see the damage and will have to check with FWC to find out whether anyone but the tractor operator knew about this.

My main concern is that it could provide a path for exotic plants to further invade. Natal grass is already common in the open areas near the Rosemary patches and other places.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Brazilian Pepper At The Gate

I spent an hour searching for exotics I recently found. I came away with a bag containing some Lygodium and Cogon Grass, but most of the action was around the First Avenue gate.

Brazilian pepper has sprouted. I dug up all four bushes and one near the gate outside. I also clipped the shrubbery and cut the grass the make that entrance somewhat presentable.

I noticed despite the County Commission's recent vote to prohibit truck parking on this street, there are no signs and no signs of enforcement. In a richer neighborhood, things might be different.

The end of the street is still crumbling.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Lessons From Field Trip Day At Lake Blue

Today's field trip was a learning experience.
There have been some problems with people signing up for other field trips--usually paddling--for which they are not physically capable of completing. This is dangerous and doesn't lead to a good experience.

I had that today. A few people dropped out early on because the freshly mowed fire lane was too uneven a surface for them to navigate, even with a walking stick. I felt bad about this because a tour of Lake Blue Scrub  is an experience few have. However, I also wanted everyone to be safe.

I think I need to work with the tourism folks to advise participants of the conditions and to provide some simple tips like not wearing shorts or sneakers. I wasn't expecting  this. The two people who showed up last year were dressed appropriately and didn't have any mobility problems.

It was also earlier in October, so the plant life was a lot more scenic and they were interested in taking photographs.

Anyway, I was able to share some information and the people who came along were very pleasant and came from as far away as Ocala and West Palm Beach.

Some seemed interested in returning when more species are in bloom. I took one person to the other tract, which is a totally different experience. It is less open, the ground is carpeted in places with lichens and it has significant stands of Rosemary.

I had to do a  little followup work.

 I noticed the mowing guy had plowed into one of the benches when he was turning around. I fixed it and moved the bench in the South Tract and rebuilt it accommodate the moth light.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Full Field Trip Saturday At Lake Blue

This Saturday will be the second field trip at Lake Blue Scrub during Polk's fledgling Central Florida Naturefest.
Last year's tour was an intimate affair. Only two people signed up. Festival planners asked if I wanted to cancel. I said no. If someone took the trouble to sign up, they should get a tour.
This year will be different. I received  word the tour is full, which means there will be about a dozen people here.
FWC has promised to have the fire lane mowed by Saturday so there will be no wading through waist-high weeds.
The only downside of scheduling the festival this late in October is many of the wildflowers that were blooming earlier in the month around the date for last  year's festival are declining or absent. There will still be plenty to see, though. I also plan to bring the site's signature beetle.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

As Fall Arrives, More Colors Appear

Fall has arrived and the composition of the wildflowers is
gradually changing. The Balduinia, which is rife in many portions of the preserve, has peaked and is now declining.
Lopsided Indian Grass is blooming. So is Blue Curls. In late afternoon, the scrub species of Blue-eyed Grass blooms.

I spotted a new moth, Schinia fuller, and a new butterfly, Twin Spot Skipper.

I have a field trip coming up in  a few weeks. I'm not sure what will be left by then.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Wireweed At Peak Here

One of the least ubiquitous rare plants at the preserve is Polygonella basiramia, aka Wireweed.

 It is blooming now in the few spots where it is found, though in one spot this year it is quite abundant. Today I counted more than 300 plants.
Scrub Blazing Star (nee Sand Torch), Liatris ohlingerae is still blooming, too, along with several more common species.

Fall is wonderful in this place if you enjoy color.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Soldier In The Scrub; Sunset

I was checking the trail for interesting wildlife the other evening when I encountered a Soldier, a relatively uncommon species of butterfly, resting on the branch of a Bumelia bush.
That brings the butterfly species list here to 52, which is impressive in such a small space.
It was late afternoon and dusk was coming as I was leaving.
This place offers a great view of the westering sky.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Weeding The Lupines Again

It is that time of year again.
The Natal grass was starting to build up in the second lupine planting area.
Last year I wasn't aware there was a problem and didn't get to it until later in the season and it took several visits to complete.
 Today I got the bulk of it cleared out in about four hours.
The weeding revealed how few surviving plants there are.
I also saw one Scrub Blazing Star in the patch. I can't remember whether there any last year.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Getting Rid Of Truck Problem

This week the County Commission approved a measure to ban truck parking on First Avenue.

That might  eliminate some of the problems that have been occurring.

There was the recent problem with our gate, but these vehicles have also damaged the pavement.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

One Path Clear, More To Go

I finally finished work yesterday on removing the mass of Natal grass from the central trail through the preserve.

I now have a relatively easy task of clearing  branches away from this and other paths, which will involve loppers and shouldn't take more than a single visit.

The fire lane still lies unmowed despite pledges to get the work done. It remains an eyesore, an exotic weed sink and a fire hazard.  Also, when it's mowed it's easier to find the trash the neighbors have tossed over the fence.

Meanwhile, my next major project is to work on the trail on the south tract in preparation for Nature Fest and to make it easier for me to get around the property.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

They Only Come Out At Night

This large millipede species (Narceus gordanus, if you want to be formal) is quite common here.
I find them curled up under leaf litter when I'm doing various kinds of management work.
I've seen their tracks in the sand, but rarely seen them on the move.
At dusk today I spotted one in the open after I had been photographing some moths nearby.[

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Moths & Milkweed

I made an interesting discovery this week.
While I was wrapping up some exotics control around dusk, I saw a  couple of Harlequin Moths on Curtiss' Milkweed.

I had seen these moths in the preserve before,, but I had never seen moths of this species nectaring before.

Typically, sphinxes and flower moths do this, but from what I've read, most other moths do not. In fact, many moths do not feed much in their adult stage.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Scrub's Summer White

White flowers are everywhere in the scrub at Lake Blue this summer.

                                       Curtiss' Milkweed
                                       Pine Catchfly

                                    Milkweed Seed Pod and Milkweed Bug

There's Curtiss' Milkweed, Pine Catchfly, Feay's Palaox, Elliott's Milk Pea and Sandlace. Another white natural object is the opening seed pod for Butterfly Weed, which has orang flowers. Inside the seed pod is a Large Milkweed Bug.

It's hot, but there's lot to see.

Monday, July 7, 2014

More Than Lock Missing At Gate

Yesterday's discovery of tire ruts and an open gate at the end of First Avenue was the result of hasty inventory. My truck was parked on the other side of the preserve and a thunderstorm was bearing down on me.
It was sunny this afternoon and I went out to take another look.
Someone had also removed the small FWC boundary sign from the gate post.
I took a few photos and nailed a replacement sign to a gate post at the entrance.
This is the first problem I've had with the neighbors on this side other than beer bottles over the fence in awhile.
This incident may merit more attention.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

An Open Gate; Natal Grass Work Continues

I was out on a thunderstorm-abbreviated walk though the preserve today when I ran into a wide-open gate at the end of First Avenue. There were wheel ruts in the fire lane. It looks as though someone backed a truck in. The chain and lock on the gate were missing. I hadn't been to that entrance recently, so I'm not sure what happened.

Later in the afternoon, I resumed work clearing Natal grass from fire lane from the north-south path to the eastern fire lane near one of the Lupine planting area.

I have two more days of work, I think. Then I will see how long it lasts.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Dawn In Summer At The Preserve

I stopped by at dawn today to retrieve some equipment I left behind yesterday afternoon to avoid a lightning storm.

I'm rarely here this early, especially at this time of year.

Towhees and a bobwhite were calling from the underbrush. A Common Nighthawk was making its last foraging run of the evening at bushtop level.

The neighbors; Indian Peafowl was calling  in the distance.

Other than that it was very peaceful. I should come out more often at dawn.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Clearing the path, felling the pepper

I resumed work this week trying to restore the min fire lane near the south lupine planting area by thinning the accumulation of  Natal grass and hacking through the small trees and shrubs that have popped up there in the past four years.

I also saw two good size Brazilian peppers had returned just outside the east fence line. I cut them back severely before they will have a chance to flower and fruit again. I got rid of pepper inside the preserve once. I don't want to repeat it.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Volunteer Lupines Increase

I was  checking the two patches where Scrub Lupines sprouted from an old seed bank and discovered  four new seedlings. That brings the  total in both patches to nine plants.

If some of them survive to maturity and flower at least once, that could help to replenish the seed bank here.

I also found a shed snake skin in a bush and suspect Brown Thrashers are nesting near the planting site.

This place always has something to learn.

My  other  purpose for the visit was to take advantage of the recent rain to see what trash has been exposed in the sand. I brought home a bucketful.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Beetles & More

I checked to see whether more Polyphylla beetles were showing up at the preserve. Only one came to my light, along with some click beetles, an ant lion and some moths and smaller insects.

I did find one new moth, which has been confirmed.

Maybe next year the population will be more numerous.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Towhees In The Lupines

I found the source of the agitation a pair of Eastern Towhees in the area where I was checking on Scrub Lupine seedlings. There was a nest in a thicket near the planting area. I finally found the nest hidden in some moss.
Towhees are one of the few bird species that appear to nest here, so I like to keep track.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Still More Lupines

I found more lupine seedlings around the planting area and adjacent this morning.
This afternoon I was pleased to find three seedlings in one of the areas where plants popped up from an old seed bank in 2010 after the gyrchopping.
Maybe one of those plants will produce more seeds.
The lupines are certainly expanding in seedlings. If the adults follow, this could work well.
In the meantime, I'm culling the Natal grass around any areas containing lupines to give them a chance.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lupine Surprise Explosion

I was cleaning out some of the Natal grass near the first planting area today when I discovered a lupine seedling, then another and another.
By the time I looked around with the light failing as darkness approached, I had found and flagged 15 new Scrub Lupine seedlings.

This was surprising. I'd found a handful of new seedlings at the 2d tract after the initial search, but this was extraordinary. I suspect I might find more as I work the edges and remove more Natal grass.

I will finish this weekend if the weather cooperates.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cleaning the edges again

Over the weekend I continued my Great American Cleanup efforts along Holt/Holton Road area. I found a lot of older trash I'd missed in an earlier foray a few years ago and found some new stuff. It seems Heineken is the favorite beer of neighborhood litterbugs.

I also found part of an old bed frame, a small section of cast iron pipe, three tires and an old shoe.
There's lots of concrete debris, too. Maybe that can be formed into something.

Lupines 'n grass

I think I've finally found the last of the elusive  Scrub Lupine seedlings from the latest sprouting.
By elusive, I mean some were in unexpected locations, such as within patches of Natal grass or a few feet outside the planting areas behind bushes and in other unlikely locations.

A paper has been published about the dispersal, since until this experiment began, there wasn't much known about the dispersal of planted lupines because no one had ever planted any.

My contribution has also been to  clear some areas adjacent to the planting areas of  Natal grass.

Ryan Kordek from Lake McLeod said the problem with Natal grass is that if lupine sprouts in it, it may not get the air and lack of dryness that could cause  the plants to die because their are subject to disease.

Moths, Beetles and Bullbats

I was out Friday night with some fellow bug enthusiasts, including Paul Skelley from UF and lighting technician extraordinaire Roy Morris.

We were primarily looking for the presence of Auburndale scrub beetles. Paul found one.
Roy set up his generator powered light set and that brought beetles, moths and some other insects to investigate.

Some of the moths were new to me.

It was a fun three hours.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Lupines, Trash and a Sun Snake

I stopped by this morning to check on the lupines, retrieve my flags and pick up a little trash.
I found some beer bottle pieces and other debris, discovered about half a dozen lupine seedlings.
Interestingly, some are sprouting in the middle of dense patches of Natal grass, which seems surprising.
On the way to check on the volunteer lupine areas--nothing new there, but it doesn't hurt to check--I found a
Black Racer coiled in the sun in an opening near the trail. I took a quick photo and let the snake resume its basking.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Lupine Are Coming Up All Overl

I stopped by today to check on the progress of the Scrub Lupine sprouting in the original planting area.
I wasn't disappointed.
I found several more sprouts. I have found 35 new sprouts in addition to what my friends at Bok Tower, who did the initial survey, came up with.
I found more seedlings outside of the expected area, leading me to wonder how do the seeds spread?
I have been told they are ejected some distance, but it seems there is another factor at work,.
I have seen the same thing in my yard with the neighbor's Orchid Tree (Bauhinia). It is known to eject seeds, but I find sprouts 40 feet away.
I'm left to wonder whether it's wildlife or humans (carrying seeds a short distance on the soles of our  .shoes or both.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Innocence, Lupines & Trash

I stopped by the preserve today twice to weed and to check on progress of Scrub Lupine seedlings. I only visited the older site and the volunteer sites. I found additional seedlings following the recent winter rains. The challenge will be how many survive the spring drought.

Mushrooms are emerging now in scrub.

Also Innocence (Houstponia precumbens) is blooming now, providing a little color to the landscape.

I found scattered trash that was brought up by the recent rain. I also found a new area where trash was buried. I'll dig it up later.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Lupine Hope & Surprise

I was checking yesterday for new
Scrub Lupine sprouts, which
 traditionally occur in January,
when I found I
was a year late in one of my discoveries.
I initially found a year-old lupine yesterday, but today when I went back to photograph it, I discovered there were two.
The significance is that these plants are in a location where I found volunteers from an old seed bank just before the prescribed fire a few years ago.
The challenge will be to see whether either plant survives to maturity and puts out new seeds..

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Lock On Gate

While on trash and fence patrol today, I noticed  the problem gate lock had been replaced.
It appears to be working.

New Year, New Tasks

I finally got out to the preserve this morning. I hadn't been out for awhile because of other obligations and weather. Today I concentrated on cleaning up some spotty trash along parts of the fire lanes.
There has been an invasion of sandspurs and  Ceasar weed along the fire lanes, which makes them troublesome to traverse.

Natal grass continues to be prominent in the landscape in the north tract since the the mechanical clearing, followed by fire. I've confined my efforts to managing Natal grass to the north-south tract and around the lupine beds.
This month will be a time to look for new lupine seedlings.