Wednesday, December 28, 2016

New moth light, work days

It has been a busy week at the preserve.
I have finished removing the dumped concrete debris from the fire lane. It has been used for the main entrance and for bolstering the entrance road at another preserve that has some issues from truck traffic.
Meanwhile, the First Street gate was the first test for my new moth light set up. I added some new species for the county as well as some new species for the site.
I was able to deal with some of the larger concrete pieces--pieces I could not lift into my truck--by breaking them up with a sledge hammer.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Duke Energy proposes power line through preserve

I just learned today that Duke Energy wants to get approval to construct a 230 kilovolt power line whose route would include sections of the north and south tracts of Lake Blue Scrub.
The map I saw today depicts a route along the southern fire lane of the north tract and the northern fire lane of the south tract. The latter runs through the largest patch of Polygonella basiramia, an endangered species, that I know of at the site.
The concern is that this will set a precedent for similar facilities in other conservation lands and could be a slippery slope for further encroachments.
For Duke, it looks as though this an easy out. The other clear corridor would run through CSX property. CSX is known to be a tough negotiator on any property deal.
This proposal is still in the preliminary stages and I expect there will be public meetings.
At one time these facilities received planning review, but no longer.
Once word gets out about this proposal, expect a fight.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Concrete & Glass

I went to the preserve over the weekend with a goal of culling some of the Ceasarweed, but got distracted with the work next to the fire lane near the First Avenue gate.
I ended up digging up a large amount of concrete debris as well as some carpet and other household trash and related debris.
I did pile up some Ceasarweed and found another batch of Corona beer bottles.
While I was tossing the bottles into the edge of the fire lane I was approached by one of the neighbors.
He told me the bottles were coming from weekend parties held by his neighbors.
Meanwhile, while I was excavating the debris I encountered another Eastern Glass
Snake Lizard, minus part of its tail tip, which will generate. It stayed for a few moments before disappearing into the surrounding habitat.  

Monday, November 28, 2016

Bad grass among the good grass

I began tackling a patch of cogon grass that I reported a couple of years ago but was apparently never treated.
I flagged the area so long ago that my original flag has faded from sunlight exposure.
Another flag at the former edge of the fire lane was recently mowed after a member in good standing of the Confederate Bushhog Operators Association.
The only plants that have died appear to have died of old age rather than herbicide.
The grass has been spreading slowly among the wiregrass and other native grasses, saw palmetto and sand pine.
The  walk into the cogon grass area began auspiciously.
A great purple hairstreak alit on a saw palmetto leaf. This was the first one I've seen here and one of the few I've seen in Polk. Despite the fact that its host plant is mistletoe, which is common, these butterflies are not that common.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Bushhogging, trashing and questions

The fire lane was recently widened for some reason, but the old fire lane was left partially unmowed for some reason.
The bushhogging exposed some additional trash, with which I filled my truck bed today.

I found the bushhogging had been more extensive than in the past, including some of the internal trails. Fortunately it occurred after the flowering season, so none of the endangered species were affected.

The mowing took out a good chunk of palmettos in the northwest corner, but fortunately missed a patch of Nolina brittonia that grows there that I didn't discover until a few years after I did the original plant survey.

What's a little mysterious is why a strip of tall grass was left in the middle of parts of the fire lane. seemingly defeating the purpose of the buffer.

I'll have to inquire with FWC to see what's planned.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Garberia begins blooming; tree trash remains

I took a walk to check on things this afternoon.
Most of the fall flowers such as Liatris and Balduinia are mostly past their prime. Carphephorous is still  coming in. Garberia is just beginning to bloom in scattered spots.
Lopsided Indian Grass has dropped most of its colorful seeds.
The  large pile of tree debris from the north fence line remains. No evidence the site has been visited by FWC.
I found one Chinese tallow tree along west fence line. I need to get out and clip it. The trunk is on the other side of the fence on CSX property.    

Monday, October 17, 2016

More dumping followup

I went out again this week and moved more of the dumped tree debris to the pile next to the fence.

I have heard nothing further from FWC about any enforcement or debris removal.

I also cut some tree limbs to reopen some paths in the north tract.

I plan to come in and gradually conduct some trash removal along the fire lanes. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Followup on dumping issue

Today I contacted FWC law enforcement staff about the dumping. I was told they will look into it.
I also got a response from Bill Parken,  Ridge Rangers coordinator,  acknowledging my report and passing it on to management staff.
They can take it from here. I've done my part.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Fall Color Arrives

The arrival of fall here is a colorful event. The most noticeable  patches are the Balduinia and October Flower.

Some Liatris and Carphepherous are beginning to bloom.
Lopsided Indian Grass is blooming, too.
It's a great time to walk around and enjoy the season.  

Friday, October 7, 2016

Tree clearing and tree piles

If you want to get an idea of how much tree work occurred in the adjacent lot, compare this 2014 aerial of the lot with what  it looked like this week.
Blue line denotes adjacent lots boundary.
I spent some time yesterday hauling all of the tree limbs consisting primarily of Cherry Laurel and Brazilian Pepper from inside the wooded area south of the fire lane to a spot near the fence where some of the neighbor's tree removal occurred.
I plan to pursue this issue with FWC next week.  This is obviously criminal dumping. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

More dumping from the neighbors

While I was out today GPSing a couple of Blue-tailed Mole Skink records and
checking on the survival  of this year's Scrub Lupine seedlings (0 percent), I noticed a large amount of Cherry Laurel and Brazilian Pepper  tree removal debris spread over a good portion of the edge area.

I talked to a couple of neighbors, who claimed to have seen the dumping and would ask the property owner to go in and remove the trash.

We'll see. I reported the incident to FWC. There was also some dumping of household garbage, but it was relatively minor compared to the tree debris. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Fire: the sequel

I learned this week that a prescribed burn is being planned sometime in the future.
I don't have any information on the details, but it seems it will be somewhere in the South Tract.

I will meet with FWC staff  to assist with whatever information I have that will help in the planning.

One goal may be taking care not to kill the rest of the Giant Orchids recorded here.

Stuff that flies in the night and day

I set up a monitoring station site the other day
to set up a light to resume moth surveys,
In late afternoon when I was bringing in materials
 I saw a group of about 10 migrating Chimney
 Swifts feeding overhead.
After dark the  traffic is still a little slow. I had
a few moths and beetles, several leafhoppers
 and a couple of species of roaches.
There were also mosquitoes.
One of the leafhoppers was unusually colorful
 with an interesting design and the exotic roach
 was more colorful than native species. Interestingly
, no sand cockroaches showed up that evening
though they regularly appear.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

New butterfly lands here

While I was making a periodic check of the preserve, I took a break to do some butterflying.

In a area along the  north fire lane that is shaded by Poinciana trees, I saw a flash of brown that I  photographed. It was a Three-Spotted Skipper, a species formerly restricted to south Florida that has been appearing here more regularly.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Blooms everywhere in the preserve

Spring is gradually becoming more colorful at the preserve.

Prickly Pear, Britton's Beargrass, Gallberry and more are blooming now.
I also have found the earlier infestation of Praxelis clematidea  that has arrived perhaps via the fire lane mowing. I have not seen the species outside of the fire lane.
Cogon Grass is spreading in the northwest fire lane from off site and a portion of the site outside the fence.

New moth for site, national database

I recently was able to go mothing in between rainy evenings and unfavorable moon phases.

Activity has been pretty slow lately, but I did make a good find.
My light attracted a moth called Monoleuca erectifascia (it doesn't have a common name). It was the 638th confirmed moth species of Polk County and the first confirmed record for North America on the Butterflies and Moths of North America database. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Lupine finally in bloom

The mature Scrub Lupine plants, including one of the volunteers, are finally blooming
and a few people may come out to see them and photograph them.

There have been comments about the late blooming, but looking back on the limited time they've been here it appears the bloom times have varied quite a bit from year to year, starting as early as mid-March and one year some plants didn't bloom until late April or early May.

The Sand Skinks are becoming more active and some other plants are starting to bloom such as Sand Lace and Pine Catch-Fly.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

South tract paths are future fire lanes, FWC says

I received an answer that the clearing was, as I suspected, part of the management  plan and not something else.
I was told it is a prelude to a future prescribed fire.
The site has never been burned in modern times and has fewer open areas than the north tract.
It has different vegetation, too.
The only good patch of Rosemary, which will regenerate after the fire, is in the south tract. So is most of the Polygonella basiramia, though most of it's in the north fire lane next to Stewart Auto Repair.
According to some FNAI data I received when I first started volunteering, there's an old (1950s) record for Carter's Warea on this section. Perhaps the fire will bring it out if the seed bank is still here.
On the other hand, there is no Bonamia grandiflora and very little Nolina brittonia in this section, at least in its unburned state.
This site appears to have a much larger population of Polyphylla starkae than the north tract, but that impression is based solely on one year's  incidental observation. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

You CAN get there from here

Last year I discovered a path that was cleared through the south tract.
I asked about it and was told it was a mistake and would not recur.
That was then, this is now.
While I was leading a field trip last weekend, I discovered not only had the trail been recleared, but additional trails had been cleared to connect to various points along the four fire lanes.
I have not had a chance to learn the purpose, though it seems this is part of some kind of new management strategy.
I guess I was most amazed that someone the equipment missed an interesting pile of concrete debris that lies in the general area where some of the paths cross in the northeast section of the south tract.
I found a few pieces of litter that I had not encountered before. I'll return to collect them and probably mine the windrows that were piled up from the last fire lane work.
If nothing else, this makes monitoring the site somewhat easier.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The preserve is getting visitors

Visitors are rare here.
So,  whenever they do select this site, I like to be a good host.
On the eve of the spring equinox, some friends from the Suncoast Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society are coming to visit.
I had been invited to speak to this group last year about the Scrub Lupine recovery efforts and related topics.
I hope flowering plants are a little more in evidence by then, but I expect they'll enjoy the opportunity to visit and explore a new natural area. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Lupine season is slow this year

Volunteers from Bok Tower are coming next week to conduct annual monitoring of the lupine population.

I have been checking for seedlings over the past month. This has not been a very productive year. I don't know why. It was a warmer-than-normal winter and has been wet a times,. but I don't know how that has affected anything.

One seedling has emerged in the patch that came up from disturbance from gyrotracking.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

More Brazilian Pepper Work Ahead

When I was checking on the Lupine seedlings recently, I noticed a new Brazilian Pepper tree had sprouted near one entrance.
Fortunately it is not fruiting yet so I have time to remove it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Lupine season has a slow start

I checked the lupine patches over the weekend, but found  very few seedlings so far.
I don't know how much the weather has influenced this.
I will check later to see if there are any changes.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Quiet in winter, but work to do

This is the time of year to look for trees with red berries that aren't holly trees.
I recently removed a fair-sized Brazilian pepper  tree that became visible near the western fire lane after a pine tree fell and opened the area.
I had removed some smaller trees on the north side while I was removing Ceasar weed  last year.
The troubling problem is the existence of Brazilian peppers along the periphery on county right of way or private property where they are difficult to remove.
The good news as I understand it is that few of the berries result in new trees, but my goal is the continue to check around the edges when time and daylight during the early sunset period of the year permit.
I found some cogon grass earlier, but reported it to FWC for attention.