Sunday, May 3, 2009

A day of volunteering

It’s early on a Sunday morning. I went to bed super early last night after an exhausting day of volunteering. I spent three hours in the morning with Theresa and Gloria, climbing up and down some very rugged terrain, searching for invasive plants on one of the BCP tracts. At one point we thought we might have to scale a wall but we found a way around it. At the top of that was a mesa with a little stand of flax amidst a pile of limestone rocks. Small pockets of moss took advantage of the sun. After a short breather, we started our descent. For all that efforts of the morning, we found one 3 ft. tall nandina. We cataloged it and denuded it of blooms and berries. At a point on our descent I saw the most beautiful little spider. It was probably in the Theridiidae family, no more than 3 mm, lying belly up in its tangled web amongst branches. It was green with a shiny copper spot on its belly. It was worth all the pain and discomfort of the day to see that little creature. Here are some photos of our BCP invasive hunt:

Devil's shoestring. Not an invasive plant.

Daddy Longlegs

Gloria trying to scale a rock wall. Ha!

Theresa and Gloria identifying a plant

Orange mushrooms in the leaf litter

Life persists

After we completed our survey, I drove home and had a quick lunch, shower, and 20 min power nap. Then it was off to the Wildflower Center for an afternoon of vegetation surveying on their research plots. The plots we surveyed were quite a distance from the center so we got to ride on “gators”, the motorized Kawasaki 4 wheelers they use to get around out there. The ride to and fro was a delight. Imagine perfect weather, tall stands of purple three awn grasses bent over in the breeze, spots of color everywhere from the blooming wildflowers, all accented with bright yellow prickly pear blooms. There were just a handful of us and we were all ready to start our weekends so we got down to business and surveyed our plots. I’m pretty sure I can now distinguish these grasses: purple three awn, spear grass, love grass, fall witch grass, and side oats gramma. Plus the “bad” grasses like King Ranch Bluestem, Johnson grass, and rescue grass.

My ride out to the research plot - one of the gators

The real experts return from the field - Dick and Jeannine (foreground) work at WFC and seem to know everything - but in a nice way.

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