Monday, December 21, 2015

The Lost Orchids

I've been perplexed by the absence of the main stand of P. escritata orchids I discovered several years ago in the north tract.
I finally learned what apparently happened.
The preparation work for the prescribed fire that involved mechanical clearing apparently damaged the corms to the point they will not produce additional plants.
Another spot was damaged  by  the widening of the fire lane  north of this site.
That means the only extant site for this species on the preserve may be in the south tract, which has not been disturbed.
I'll have to dig up by old GPS data and see if I can relocate that site.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Removing Remodeling Trash

Today I removed a truckload of construction debris from the north fire lane woods.
There was a door, some cabinet doors and miscellaneous material.
The gate combo has been changed, so I couldn't use a wheelbarrow to haul the material out. so I had to carry it out.
It was windy and so it was more difficult to move the larger items.
Anyway, it's out now. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Colors of Fall's Second Half

You have to look harder for color at this time of year, but it's there.
Over the weekend I checked on the Tooth reined orchis in the bayhead.  They're up. I passed Cinnamon Fern on the way and elsewhere found Blue Curls and Sand Lace.

The most common butterfly at the time is Little Yellow,.

Clearing Natal grass

I finally finished some of the major removal of Natal grass along a main path and around the two Scrub Lupine beds.
 I found some additional dumping of residential construction debris in in the woods along the northern fire lane.-
Very few flowers are blooming except Blue Curls and Pittyopsis.
Winter is coming.
Palm warblers are flitting around the edges. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Belated National Public Lands Day

I couldn't make National Public Lands Day Saturday because I was butterflying at Big Bend WMA near Perry.
Today I went to the preserve and spent two hours digging up more Ceasar Weed in and along the fire lane.
I'm trying to get as much removed before the seeds mature so I don't get covered during the work.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Piling Up The Ceasar Weed

Late summer is not the most comfortable time to harvest Ceasar Weed, but it is  a strategic time. The plants are large and easy to find, but the seed heads are still green or absent, which means you don't emerge from the task covered in brown burrs.

Over the past week I have been making piles in the epicenter of this plant's domain in the northern boundary of the property and the fire lane.

The job has been hampered by having to deal with other exotics. Rosary Pea has twined around many of the plants, making them difficult to remove even after they have been uprooted. Guinea Grass has made getting to other plants a challenge.

For now the situation is under better control than it was. I also found another Brazilian pepper tree while I was working and removed it, too.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Brazilian Pepper, Butterflies

I stopped today to dig up a Brazilian Pepper that I had found during a walk-through a couple of weeks ago.
I also collected a little trash and flagged a lupine seedling.
A few butterflies were out after the rain, including Pipevine Swallowtail.
I also noticed that the air potato beetles had made it here, judging by the holes in the leaves of the vines.    

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Education, Brazilian Pepper

I gave a talk on Lake Blue Scrub June 16 to the Suncoast Chapter of the Florida  Native Plant Society with an emphasis on the Scrub Lupine recovery project.
The talk my generate some additional visitors.

I also got back today to begin trimming some of the Brazilian Pepper  that is coming in over the north fence. I got the worst out with loppers, but I'm going to have to return with a saw.

I walked along the north fire lane. It seems the Corona beer bottle accumulation has subsided  bit. Perhaps my habit of throwing the bottles back toward the[ fence sent a message.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A New Polyphylla Beetle

While I was doing some night invert work the other night, primarily in search of new moth species for the site, one remaining Auburndale Scrub Beetle appeared.
He was followed by a related beetle species that I had not seen here before.
These genus appears at lights only in spring here, as far as I know.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Finally Fixing The Rail Crossing

CSX is finally going to fix that bumpy rail crossing on Hobbs Road near the preserve.
That project was first announced a couple of years ago and I 've been waiting  for the work to begin.
I'm sure the neighbors have been, too.
This has got to be one of the bumpiest rail crossings in Polk County.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Beetles To The South Of Me...

I followed up on my recent beetle search with another search in the south tract, where very little work has ever been done.  I've had a couple in the past, the same as recently in the north tract.

This new location yielded as many as 23 at one time, which may have  scared away the moths I was looking for.

It was truly impressive.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Moths and Beetles

I was out tonight to check on the status of the beetles and to see if anything else was stirring between thunderstorms today.

The beetles, which weren't out a couple of weeks ago, are back, along with some other critters, such as Sand Cockroach, another endemic.

I also found  a common moth called a Small Mocis, which was not as exciting as the Scopula I had over the weekend.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Moth List Grows

While I was checking on the status of the scrub beetles the other night, I did find an interesting moth, which I believe is called a Six-spotted Aroga.
It's the first one I can recall seeing.
I had no luck with the beetles. I might have been a little off on my timing.
I have not seen or heard any Common Nighthawks yet, either.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Cogon Grass Work Continues

Yesterday afternoon I went to the south tract to check on the results of my earlier attack on a small patch of cogon grass next to the fire lane in the disturbed wind row left from the widening of the fire lane a few years ago.

I filled a bag and also dug up two of the Brazilian pepper bushes that had shot up nearby. I've got to go back this weekend and dig up the other two. I had cut them back and had earlier collected and bagged the branches containing berries to prevent them from spreading as much as possible.

It's one of the things that will require periodic monitoring.

I also removed a small amount of trash that I unearthed in the process of digging up the cogon grass.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Lupine Bloom Beginning; More Seedlings

I saw the first Scrub Lupine petals unfolding from the flower bud yesterday while I was checking for more seedlings.

I've been checking on the bloom status of the two mature plants here so I can invite some folks from Kissimmee who have never seen the plant.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Lupine Seedlings Keep Coming

I was pleasantly surprised today to find two more seedlings in one of the wild lupine areas some distance west of the 2008 planting area.

One of the yearlings will appears healthy. If it survives, it may bloom and put out more seeds in a year or two.

There are few mature plants in any of the areas at the moment, but I noticed today that at least one of them is forming buds, which means flowers should start appearing within a few weeks.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Gopher Tortoise May Have Moved In

I found a burrow that appears to be a young Gopher Tortoise, origin unknown.
There are many abandoned burrows here, but no resident population.
I have seen two tortoises here in the past 13 years. One dug a burrow, but was only here briefly. I also found one dead once near another burrow.
I have not seen the critter yet.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Lupine Seedling Survey Under Way

The Scrub Lupines are popping up everywhere.
The folks from Bok Tower are flagging them as they find them.
A handful from last year's crop are still alive.
There are only a couple plants mature enough to bloom this year.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Lupines Coming Up

I have been checking for new Scrub Lupine seedlings and have not been disappointed.
I've flagged about 60, but most of the work will occur next month when the crew from Bok Tower comes in for the annual survey.

Some are still popping up outside the original planting area, but few of the ones that popped up last year made it.

I've been clearing Natal grass along the edges and watching for seedlings, which sometimes come up in the middle of a patch of this invasive grass. I have to take care not to disturb the root system, which is very sensitive.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

It Looks Like An Early Spring

It has been a mild winter.
January, the coldest month of the year at this latitude, is nearly over and no freezes are in sight.
February and March freezes are not unheard of, but December and January weather usually sets the tone.
This weekend I noticed Shiny Blueberry in full bloom and a few Pityopsis in flower even though they normally don't bloom until spring.

Equally puzzling is the fact that I saw Blue Curls, which blooms in mid-autumn, still blooming earlier this week. Today I saw a bud on one plant.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Raiding The Air Potatoes

There was a great turnout today for the Great Central Florida Air Potato Raid, despite the weather.

We got more than 300 pounds of air potatoes, which aren't really much of a problem here. Along the way I discovered some Brazilian Pepper that needs attention and found some trash that I picked up in the afternoon.

I also met with Bill Parken to check out the new path through the south tract.

It was a good day.

The only thing I didn't have space to collect was all of those Corona beer bottles one of the neighbors keeps lobbing over the fence.

I also flagged some more Scrub Lupine seedlings.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Got Monotropa?

I finished my several weeks survey of Indian Pipes (Monotropa uniflora) in the south tract of Lake Blue  Scrub near Auburndale.

The botany books describe this species as "occasional, " which what my  experience has been with this species.

This year was different.  I have flagged 43 of these plants within  a couple of acres of the preserve.

I don't know whether this is unusual, but it's worth recording in case it is.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Collectible Among The Castoffs

During my recent Indian Pipes quest--I found about 25 plants--I also found some trash piles from previous encampments.

Among the debris was a Teem bottle. I could tell it was old because it mentioned that you could turn it in for a deposit, which has not been possible in Florida for decades, despite attempts by environmentalists and others to return to the practice.

I finally got the majority of debris hauled out this morning, thought there's still a mattress frame I have to extract when I bring in the tools to do it.

I flagged more Indian Pipes this morning. They're popping up like winter mushrooms. I wonder if this year's high rainfall was a factor.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Indian Pipes Continue

It's winter, but there are Indian Pipes all over the .western half of the south tract of the preserve.

Wunderlin describes this species as "occasional" in summer and fall.

Small thought there were two or three species, one in Florida scrub, though today the systematics are clearer.  He was vague on timing of appearance.,

I found more today when I was walking along the newly mechanically cleared path  while I was working on a multiple-day trash removal operation to collect and remove debris I found while I was looking for  Indian Pipes in the eastern section of the tract.

I have marked every Indian Pipes I could find with blue flags to allow me to check next year to see whether this was an overlooked annual occurrence or an unusual event I will have to wait to see a repeat.