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Archive for July, 2012

Mariton: Camp – Butterflies

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Virginia Derbyshire led this morning’s exploration in butterflies and moths – the Lepidoptera.  After a quick lesson on how butterflies and moths are put together, the group headed for the meadows with binoculars to see what we could find. 

It was a great morning with the sighting of a Red-banded  Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)!  This is a very uncommon butterfly this far north, although we meet the habitat requirments.  The children didn’t realize they saw a rare butterfly, still they ended up having a great morning afield.  They counted over 10 butterfly species in about 90 minutes.

The children’s sharp eyes also found a Monarch butterfly’s egg on a milkweed leaf. 

Under the catergories:  “It happens.” and “Everything is connected.”  This Cabbage Butterfly found its end in a spider’s web.   

All photos by Carole Mebus.

Crow’s Nest Summer Scenes

This twelve-spotted skimmer dragonfly (Libellula pulchella) paused in our goat pasture at Crow’s Nest:

And here is an unusual sunset from last Friday night:

It looked like the clouds were on fire.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on July 31, 2012.

Crow’s Nest: The Birds of Summer

There’s still a little bit of nesting going on out there. This cardinal is nesting right under our kitchen window in the winterberry holly bush:

And these barn swallows fledged a day after this photo was taken last week. Their nest is in the little shed our building stewardship staff built for the goats last year.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on July 31, 2012.

Crow’s Nest: Culvert Replacement on French Creek

At last the seasons and weather have cooperated so that the culvert replacement that was begun last year could be completed. Last year’s record rainfall kept the stream flow too high for the work to proceed, and then no work in the stream could be done during fish spawning season. We are lucky to get the project completed before the permits expire.

The excavating is being done by a contractor but the concrete forms are built by Natural Lands Trust’s Building Stewardship Staff. In the photo above Steve Holmburg is preparing the form for the second pipe. Below, that pipe has been rolled into place and is about to be pushed into the wooden form.

This has been a big project for our staff and involved exhaustive work by Bob Johnson, Steve Holmburg, Scott DeBerardinis, Luke DiBerardinis, David Casteneda, as well as biologist consultant Scott Bush and excavator C. M. Kristman.

The new culverts will carry many times the flow of the old “oil tank” culvert. They are better aligned with the stream, which explains why they are so much longer: the road that goes over them will cross them at an angle. The pipes are canted downstream slightly and a retaining lip at each end will ensure that the bottoms inside remain with a natural stream sediment and stone floor—important for stream habitat.

The service road over the culverts should be open in just a couple weeks, effectively re-opening the part of the preserve on the west side of French Creek. It also provides an off road connection between the Piersol Road and Bethesda Road, between the visitor center of Crow’s Nest Preserve and the Horse-Shoe Trail and Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site.

We will begin replanting native shrubs along the streambank here at a volunteer day this fall.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on July 31, 2012.

 

Mariton: Camp Day One

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Our camp started this week for 4th – 6th graders.  While our theme this year is INSECTS, our goal is to be distracted by every natural wonder that we encounter.   Above the group is looking at a leaf that has been visited by a Leaf Miner insect.

I think these are really cool.  An insect lays its egg in one of the layers of a leaf.  The egg hatches and the baby insect literally mines a tunnel in that layer of the leaf.  The mining is done by eating.  You can see that the insect grows while it is mining because the tunnel gets wider as the insect grows larger. 

Another cool type of insect are the gall forming insects.  The adult female injects a synthetic plant hormone into the leaf when she lays the egg.  The leaf starts producing cells that build a shelter around the egg, complete with food and moisture. 

We walked into a swarm of these colorful millipedes that covered several hundred feet of the trail.  You couldn’t walk without stepping on at least one.  No, they aren’t insects – but – they are definitely worth a stop to examine.  (All photos by Carole Mebus, our official photographer for Nature Camp.)

Crow’s Nest Camp week four

The fourth week of camp was as fun as the first three. The 3rd and 4th graders in this camp built their ant hills tall:

They enjoyed their visits to the cattle and goats.

With only a little rope and their imagination they made games in the woods.

Entomologist Erika Arnold took time to talk to the kids each day on our small group activity about her research on mice and ticks at Crow’s Nest. Her field assistant Rory (who also became a popular camp mascot) looks on:

And of course the “Bloated Tick Toss” game was a popular part of the Bug Olympics.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on July 29, 2012.

Crow’s Nest Camp week three

I guess it goes without saying that we had another wonderful group at camp this week, the first of two weeks of 3rd and 4th graders.

The kids’ buildings groups added to our anthill various structures on three sides, this time going two stories tall. At the end of the week all of it was deconstructed… “leave no trace.”

As usual there was time to beat the heat in the creek…

And on our small group hikes we visited the steers:

And on the insect theme: “The Bloated Tick Toss” (a little paint and soap—so it cleans up easier—makes it all the more real).

Posted by Daniel Barringer on July 21, 2012.

Adirondack Vacation

by Tim Burris, Mariton Preserve Manager

Last week, I was in the Adirondacks for a Canoe Symposium.  While I had my camera with me continuously, I took very few photos.  I was either distracted by the fun, or the awesome scenery.  At our campsite, I was serenaded by Pine Warblers, Magnolia Warblers, and Yellow-rumped warblers every morning as I sipped my tea.  I heard the occasional Black-throated Green, as well as Parula Warblers. 

One day along a stream, I heard a Swainson’s Thrush.  While I have seen them here in migration, I had never heard one singing.   What a neat experience.  I also heard one of my favorite birds:  the Hermit Thrush.

This year, I took fewer afternoon classes and was able to sight see.  One afternoon, I visited The Wild Center in Tupper Lake.  It is a great nature center, and I wished I’d had more time to spend there.  I was amazed that they left their skulls and bones out where people could touch them.  While we do it at Mariton, the volume of visitors at The Wild Center is several magnitudes greater.  I really enjoyed my time there and would like to go back and walk the trails.

Of course, the goal of the week was to sharpen my skills.  I had great classes with great instructors and added to my bag of tricks.  I took a tandem class for fun and now realize what I have been missing in team paddling.  Evening campfires included discussions on boat physics, and a large dose of guitars and singing.  It was a wonderful week and I came back refreshed by the cool mountain air.

Mariton: Turkey Trot

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Just the other day, someone asked me if I had seen any turkeys lately.  I replied that it had been awhile since I had seen any.  So, the next day three males walked through the yard.  I was able to take photos using the Nature Center as a blind.  All three had short beards.  This cluster of hair-like feathers are mostly found on males, but occasionally there are bearded hens.

Paunacussing Preserve

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