Friday, July 31, 2015

Summer Research Week 11 (7/28)

Not a ton of research done this week. Set up a number of clay caterpillar sites and checked a few. 

One think one thing that has emerged is that riparian sites have higher rates of predation compared to more upland sites. We'll just at that as a factor or analyze them separately all together. 

We keep starting DNA barcoding but have yet to go from bug to sequence. And few times we've been able to detect product. Next week I'll focus on that.

We hosted two Upward Bound students every Tues and Thursday for the past couple weeks and Thursday was their last day. Next year more structure. 

Thursday was also WEBS and I took two groups out to Kirby Park to catch birds. It was a fantastic day. Enough birds rolled into nets that they were processing birds the entire time and no birds were hurt. That's ideal. WNEP came by and ran a story

Red-eyed Vireo

Black-and-white Warbler

Juvenile Baltimore Oriole

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Taking down the Confederate flag from state capitals = erasing history?

I've seen that argument a few times and I find it a silly argument. History is preserved in books and museums. If the argument is that history is only preserved by actively using it then we should still have slavery, Japanese internment camps, be riding horses to get places, keep cholera around, and ridiculous example after ridiculous example. Flying the Confederate flag to preserve history is just as ridiculous.

If you really want to erase peoples' histories try this

Books and writings deemed "un-German" are burned at the Opernplatz. Berlin, Germany, May 10, 1933.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Summer Research Week 10

Normally I would give a daily account of research but this week has been very office oriented. I organized the lab only to be told we need to move out of the old lab (in Stark) ASAP. We have piles of crap and I've just been piling it up in the new lab. So it goes.

Undergrads are back from Nova Scotia and they've been working on clay caterpillars. So I'm excited to see how that goes. 

Talked to a colleague about our issues in the lab concerning DNA barcoding and it looks like we have a stain and pH problem. 

Speaking of DNA barcoding, may have some very exciting news in the next week. 

Working on the West Georgia urbanization stuff this weekend. Been out of the literature for so long I need to catch up as quickly as possible. Going through and updating the literature where I can. I think the manuscript is still publishable - just a question of where. 

Tree Swallows are nowhere to be seen and the neighborhood is mostly quiet. Looks like the second clutch of robins are out and about and Fish Crow fledglings are the only things making noise these days. Detected a few Yellow Warblers in the neighborhood so they're on the move. 

Need to plan to do vegetation measurements soon too. Not looking forward to it but needs to get done. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Ornithologizing in Nova Scotia

Last week, I took my wife, daughter, three students, and a student spouse to Nova Scotia to a combined meeting of the Wilson Ornithological Society, the Canadian Society for Ornithology, and the Association of Field Ornithologists. The meeting was held at Acadia University in Wolfville. It's a touristy college town but lots of nice places to eat and people are friendly so I have no problems. 

First two days were council meetings then two days of talks and one night for poster sessions and another for the banquet so my plate was full. So it goes. 

The biggest downer was my fault; I picked a cheap hotel 35 minutes from the meeting. This meant it was a pain getting there and back and it limited what my wife could do. Lesson learned. Lack of bird diversity was a downer too but I found many nice sites I would like to come back too.

On the up side: meeting great folks and seeing some great science by the younger folks. Really impressive group.

Places we visited were Harborville, Grand Pre, a UNESCO Heritage Site, and the town of Digby. Wife went horseback riding on the Evangeline trail. 

Bald Eagle moving through Wolfville

Sole boat docked at Port Williams

Harborville - close to the parking lot

Harborville - check out that sexy strata

Harborville - size of bowling ball - no idea


Harborville (the joke is that this is Syd's dorm room) 

The base of those cliffs in Harborville has a section that is "lumpy" 

Lupine - these were all along the highways

Sunset in Harborville
Grand Pre - the tide here is 11 meters vertical but hundreds of meters along the shore

A beach just outside of Digby. There's a loon on the right. I promise.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Daily predation rates of (clay) caterpillars.. two years of data and two cities

 Putting together a poster and we just finished analyzing our results and we have really exciting results. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Research agenda for the rest of the 2015 research season

There are four projects we're working on: grasslands (which is really "early successional habitats"), clay caterpillar, gummy fruit, and barcoding.
  • Writing
    • highest priority is the West Georgia Project paper
    • then onto clay caterpillars: the review and the research paper 
  • DNA barcoding 
    • I think we have the taxa and the locations pinned down
    • We need to figure out some basic protocols: there's an issue when we can't see our ladders (essentially positive controls of known length)
    • Need a miniproject for the WEBS 2.0 kids
  • Gummy fruit
    • I think we need to switch from high fructose corn syrup to all or nearly all fructose as the sweetener 
    • We use three packets (~ 1/3 cup) for every 1.5 cups of water and that seems right
    • need to make red ones and put them out and see if birds even recognize them as food 
  • Clay caterpillars
    • protocols are good just need to do it
  • Grassland project still needs
    • vegetation structure data
    • micrometeorology (humidity and T at all the grassland sites)
    • more food web stuff - particularly mammals
All this in FIVE weeks?  No problem : ) 

Summer Research Week 9

MONDAY 7/6/2015 Nescopeck State Park

The slow down continues with fewer birds vocalizing. Did the powerline easement first and that had Eastern Towhee and Field Sparrows with a single Prairie Warbler. I wouldn't be concerned with these three species in Pennsylvania despite the decreasing numbers - I think they're flexible enough in habitat to take advantage of gas and electric right-aways and I would through in Indigo Buntings as well. I hear these species all summer at my local grocery (Price Chopper) and around the mall as well. 

The fields that are managed for early successional birds had these birds as well and a few more. Goldfinches are becoming more obvious as their breeding season kicks in. Few Chestnut-sided and Yellow Warblers kicking around. Veerys... tons of them, still singing and calling from the edges. I've been seeing more hummingbirds too - maybe drawn to the flowers that are starting to bloom like the butterfly weed below. Blueberries are starting past their peek but bush honeysuckle, an invasive species, is pulling up the slack and they are heavy with fruit. 

Best bird of the day? Large female Cooper's Hawk that I almost hit in the truck 

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Butterfly Weed

Wildflower mix

Bush Honeysuckle

TUESDAY 7/6/2015 Beltzville State Park, Jacob's Property

A added a site near the boat launch. Last round, when I finished my survey, the land manager informed me they just sprayed the field. Now this is two weeks later and the site had been mowed (to about 8 inches) and seeded. There were still tons of song sparrows about the scattered shrubs and bluebirds but the yellowthroats were fewer. We'll see how they make out with the next planting.

The primary field didn't have the Eastern Meadowlark that was there last year. That's a species, unlike Field Sparrows, Eastern Towhee, Indigo Buntings, and Prairie Warblers, that we need to intensively manage. So far, I have ZERO meadowlarks and not a single Golden-winged Warbler.

On the upside this site had tons of Bobolinks. 

Jacob's Property, off 115, was really slow. Best bird was a male Sharp-shinned Hawk. There was other cool stuff there. This place needs a bioblitz

WEDNESDAY 7/7/2015 Office 


I didn't go out the day before because of rain. That rain clung to the shoulder-tall grasses. The site consists of several fields and they appear to be managed differently - making for great science. But we only sampled a warm-season and a cool-season grassland. The cool season is full of Red-winged Blackbirds and the edges have all the typical edge species (Indigo Buntings, Eastern Towhee, Field Sparrow). Like the other sites, I had Bobolinks swing by. 

After the survey, I took a ride over to Edge of the Woods Nursery for some native plants. Picked up butterfly weed, bottle gentian, and some irises. Not cheap. While I was there a red fox was working the edge of the fence. 


My favorite site and beautiful morning. I didn't get the species I was hoping (Savannah Sparrow, Henslow Sparrow) but I did get the Northern Harrier, Bobolinks flew over, and I picked up a Blue Grosbeak. 

Black-throated Blue Warbler in the woods adjacent to the fields

Good view of the vegetation and a deer waaaay out there

Grasshopper Sparrow - still singing

Northern Harrier cruising the fields

SATURDAY 7/11/2015 Lehigh Gap Nature Center and Kittatinny Ridge 

Gorgeous morning. Birds were few at LGNC as I expect but the Blue Grosbeak was still singing like crazy. After LGNC went up to Kittatinny Ridge where I have my last point on the Appalachian Trail. Life is good.These first two photographs show bare ground at LGNC where heavy metals obliterated the vegetation and soils.