Friday, May 29, 2015

Summer Research Week 3

MONDAY 5/25/15 - Memorial Day
TUESDAY 5/26/15 - off 


Went to SGL 221 in Cresco, PA. This is part of our grassland study but not in any way a grassland. The area is a large coppice woodland - the oaks and hickories were cut and left to resprout - and did they! I'd estimate that the height of most of the vegetation is around 2 - 3 and dense with a thick understory of sweet fern, bracken fern, and blueberries. I do need to take photos of the site. 

Went in today with Matt and Sebastian to cut back the vegetation along a trail so I can find my way between points. Somebody tore down the flags I put up last year. Oh well. Bloody hot and Matt picked off eight ticks. I'm going to call the trail the Pike Memorial Trail in honor of a student that went out with me last year 

Some of the interesting finds was the giant coyote poop - complete with dung beetle and a porcupine. Not a day to forget the camera's SD in the computer. But the porcupine is resting in the fork of the large tree.

THURSDAY 5/28/2015

First bird survey of the season and I went out to SGL119. We call the site Francis Walter Dam but the dam is a few miles away. This is a restoration site and is where they removed the top soil to build the dam. So there wasn't much more than bare rock for a number of years. I don't know all the details but Pheasants Forever is out there to help the restoration effort (though I wish it was more "Northern Bobwhite Forever"). 

Bird-wise the site had all the usual suspects: Prairie Warblers, Field Sparrows, Chestnut-sided Warblers, Gray Catbirds, etc. Was hoping for Yellow-breasted chat but I think the shrubs need to develop a bit more. After the survey, I took a walk along the edges where I could hear frogs croaking - not a disappointment. Lots of copulation. Hopefully, we'll have a few more rain events to let the young develop. 

Eastern Bluebird - no nest boxes!
Gray Treefrog doing their thang!

Cinnamon Fern
Interrupted Fern (love this genus!)

We also kicked out the fruit study to look at the effects of landscape on fruit removal rates. So we made agar-fructose fruits with some red food coloring and set them out. They shrunk and nothing ate them after 16 or so hours but we put them back out. We really need cameras on them too. Need $$$. 

FRIDAY - 5/29/2015

Bird survey at Ricketts Glen State Park. One of my favorite places to be at sunrise and one of the most diverse places for a bird survey. The day started out horrible. At 445 in the morning I filled the cup holder in the truck with the entire contents of my mug. So no coffee. 

This trip had fewer species than last year but still good stuff. There were several Common Ravens around - one of the species expanding towards the south. Tons of Prairie Warblers, Gray Catbirds, Tree Swallows. There was an Alder Flycatcher that I, again, called a phoebe before I figured out what is really was (and confirmed with a sighting). There were tons of cuckoos around - maybe in response to the gypsy moth outbreak? Interesting paper suggests they do just that. I didn't realize the outbreak was as large as it was until I was driving along the river towards Berwick and you could see denuded trees on the ridges. A also called a Swamp Sparrow a Chipping Sparrow until I realized they're not in swamps (duh). Didn't get the Northern Harrier this year but last year it was just luck as it spent a total of 10 seconds in the field I was surveying. Did get a Sharp-shinned Hawk that was being harassed by a hoard of Tree Swallows. Also, a bunch of White-throated Sparrows were singing. Yay for elevation. 

The best stuff was the non-birds: smooth green snake! and I got some bear fur for isotopes. 

Sunrise at Rickett's Glen "Hayfields"
After RGSP, a lunch break (at 9), then picked up some students and off to a CREP field to get samples from a bluebird box and ended up catching a song sparrow and gray catbird.

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