Yes, I will get back to the bat coins, but I took this photo today over at Greenfield, a little park and lake just north of Roanoke, VA and kinda liked it. Hope you do to.
Next up, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.
BHNWR is a large federal wildlife refuge located in southern Delaware run by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The 16,000 acre refuge was originally purchased in 1937 by proceeds from the federal Duck Stamp program as a way to preserve a large breeding and migratory area for waterfowl.
Most of the place is a great whacking tidal salt marsh, and while hunting is allowed and actively pursued by many at some times of the year, mostly the place is just crawling with birders. Because, well, the place is a birder's paradise. In the next few blog posts I will put up photos of some of the birds that we found there during the summer, as still have never had to pleasure of being there during migration.
For now, here is a panorama photo of the Shearness Pool, one of several large, shallow pools that you can view from the access road. Oh yeah, most of the birding here is done by car so no long hikes of doom! But there are a few short trails to observation towers if you really want to face the swarming hordes of mosquitoes and deer flies. Of note, you'll be fine once you climb up the tower and have mostly bug-free birding.
Okay, and one quick factoid. The name Bombay Hook has nothing to do with India or pirate captains. It is a perversion of an old Dutch name for the area "Boompjes Hoeck" meaning Little Tree Point.
At the Firestone Center for Restoration Ecology, we have a pond called the Duck Pond. It is called this because for many years it always had a least grebe living on it. Sadly, when we arrived this year the grebe was gone because, well, the pond was gone. Almost totally overrun by vegetation
So, like in other years when we have spent some time clearing out the hyacinth from the Basilisk Pond to keep it open, an effort was made to at least open up a patch of water and see if it is reasonable for us to just go in and pull out the plants to keep our pond. It has worked remarkably well with the Basilisk pond, but this is a different trouble altogether.
I wasn't there for the completion of this work, but will post a photo of the weeded pond next time I am up there. But having been around to watch the start, this was hard work.
While it is not my place to describe in great detail the science being done at the Firestone Center this summer, I can summarize things a bit and describe what we are doing in the field. And what we were doing in the field today was going for a long walk across the entire Reserve placing camera traps as we went.
It is so nice to see animals and pretty cool to hear animals, but the fact remains that there are many more animals on the property than we see or hear. So to understand the whole wildlife picture we, literally, take pictures.
Camera traps are just cameras that are triggered with a sensor when an animal walks by, taking either still photos or video of the animal. These images can then be looked at on a computer and most often the species of animal can be determined.
Placing cameras in locations likely to have animals moving through is key, and here are Leta Ames and Sara Freimuth placing a camera trap along the Firestone Center's border with the Hacienda Baru's property (old growth forest). Lots of very cool animals come onto the FCRE from this large old forest, so having a camera trap here could score something nice.
So, lots of camera traps are out there just waiting to record the wildlife. And of course, somewhat humorously, they will record us going by as well as we struggle up the hill in the hot sun, or pouring rain as the case may be.
A second science project relates to a web-making spider here, and so two students are keen to find and start seriously looking at these spiders and their webs. While setting up the camera traps we were able to locate a couple webs. And oh dear, the first one was...
So instead of some web along a dry road, the first study spider was over water and I will let you know that the pond is quite deep and another step forward she would have been waist deep.
Well, the next one had to be easier, right...
So much fun, but only so much time. We had to head down the hill and figure out a late lunch and get on to other work. But we were not in so much of a hurry that we didn't still look for spiders and set up camera traps. And some of the wild things we saw walking back down the hill...
And finally, a very striking-looking tortoise beetle. But not one I have seen before here at the FCRE and in the time available have not been able to identify. Beautiful animal and I will update this post with a species if and when I can figure this gem out.
Kodie Smith is setting up three single-high mist nets over this little pond on the Monongahela National Forest. These little water holes in the otherwise dry upland forest are important places for the bats to come in for a drink as well as hatching off tasty insects. Here we caught five species of bats.
There were quite a lot of amphibians of two species in this pond. Five individuals are visible in this photo. Can you spot them all?
Huintley Meadows Park is always a fine place to spend a day, but early Spring is quite interesting as the wildlife starts to wake up or migrate through. It is also known as a place to somewhat consistently see a red-headed woodpecker, which we did see while we were there.
There is always someone having fits about animal common names. A good example is the bald eagle, which is certainly not bald, and the use of the word "common" in front of a name like the common merganzer, because, somewhere it won't be common.
The word rat, however, it a species or even a group of species, but is roughly defined as "things that look like a rat" making it awfully self-referential in that one must know what a "rat" looks like. And they can look way different and be in entire different families. A similar situation occurs with "bats" which also cover a lot of different families but in general, if you see one, you know it is a bat.
A muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) sorta fits this mold of looking like a rat (and hence the name) but for distinction added is the prefix "musk" because they have a gland that releases an odor.
All that said, here is a picture of one eating dinner at a pond at the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens close to Vienna, Virginia.
Took a short walk at Meadowlark Gardens today. A few pics from the outing.
The pond at Fair Lakes was mostly iced over. But there was this track across the pond. Not sure what made this but it is most interesting.
It continues to be really cold here, but this animal track is something to ponder.
Keith Christenson - Wildlife Biologist