Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Green Day Photos

All the smiling faces and helping hands at MOSI's Green Day 2009

MOSI Green Day 2009

Wow, what an absolutely smashing success! First off I have to extend my thanks to the 204 VOLUNTEERS who showed up Saturday to participate in the plantings and clean up! Can you believe that number?! There are some seriously awesome folks in Tampa Bay who are all about making a difference any way they can. My most sincere thanks and kudos go out to them!

This past Saturday MOSI held it’s first ever Green Day event to celebrate the week of Earth Day and National Arbor Day. MOSI led into the event with plantings in the Richard T Bowers Historic Tree Grove starting Wednesday on Earth Day carrying through to Friday on Arbor Day. Nine thematic plantings tied in with the unique histories of the trees in the grove were funded by a grant from Fiskars and were installed by another corps of awesome volunteers led by Kristen G our curator of the BioWorks, butterfly gardens and tree grove. (Check out Kristen’s blog Lepcurious for more details and pictures)

Green Day 2009

Saturday MOSI held a Green themed exhibitor fair in the Richard T Bowers Historic Tree Grove with some wonderful folks including; Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful, South West Florida Water Management District, Natural Resource Planning Services, Morningstar Fisherman, M & B Products, HCC Institute of Florida Studies, Galaxy Eco Wash, Enviro-tech, Green Armada, FL Aquarium Green Team, Baby Girl Cleaning Products, Hillsborough County Solid Waste, Posey Power Batteries, and a few more (apologies to anyone I am missing!)

Green Day 20091

Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful was pivotal in helping us recruit and register 204 volunteers for the event. Volunteers cleaned up a mile and a half of city roadways including Fowler Avenue in front of the museum and the side streets bordering the Back Woods. More volunteers bagged trash along the nature trails and dug out long buried trash deep in the woods. Another team of volunteers filled bags and bags with seed pods of invasive trees. With shovels lent to MOSI by Hillsborough County’s Special Events Team, volunteers planted 90 longleaf pine throughout the east and west sandhills of the Back Woods. Cub Scout Pack 78, always up to any task, took on trimming trees growing into the trails. An intrepid group of Girl Scouts dove into duty late in the day cleaning and raking the trails. And with some serious gusto, teams of volunteers armed only with rakes and shovels and some serious fortitude filled in the plow line from our recent brush fire!!

Many thanks go out to all the MOSI staff and friends for help making the day possible. Thanks to Phil, Joel, Guest Services, Custodial, Parking, Cafe, Kristen, Sara, MOSI Science Store, and probably a ton more staff I am forgetting. Thanks to Mindy from NRPS for help mapping and flagging trees. Super thanks to Will and T.R.E.E. Inc. for donating nearly 100 longleaf pines for the plantings! Thanks to Steve for helping me schlep all those trees in and out of the truck! Thank you to Walter for taking photographs (and to Erin for letting me borrow him.) And, thanks to Joe and Pat for helping me heft 60 plus bags of garbage in the dumpster at the end of the day!

Our most sincere thanks go to the folks who provided extras for all of our amazing volunteers; thank you to Natural Resource Planning Services for providing over 200 bottles of water for our volunteers, thank you to M&B Products for providing water and juice in their unique bags to our volunteers, thank you to Dunkin Donuts for providing coffee and donuts for our volunteers, super thanks to MOSI for giving all volunteers a free pass to MOSI, and super super thanks to Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful for providing volunteers with t-shirts, sunscreen, bracelets, more water, tote bags, snacks, and other goodies in appreciation of their great service!

Thanks to Pat and Daisy from Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful for all of their awesome efforts with out which the day would not have been possible. KHCB does some really awesome work with almost no staff and more enthusiasm than 100 people!

Here is looking forward to MOSI’s Green Day 2010, Cheers!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pleasant Surprise

DSCN0089 Retrieving a trash can lid tossed in the woods during the recent blow; I came across this little guy quite comfortable underneath. A first wild find for me, this is a pine woods snake Rhadinaea flavilata. Found in moist pinelands and hardwood wetlands (this one was in the wet Flatwoods near the sinkhole), they are common in central Florida. Smaller more isolated populations of this reptile, impacted by habitat destruction, are in imperiled status in other states. Although listed as non venomous, they are actually rear fanged and have what one site termed “slightly venomous saliva”. They are egg layers and the adults reach about 10-13 inches in length like the one pictured here. One more “made my day” moment courtesy the Back Woods.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More Gopher Goodness

Couple more shots from my guests from the EPC.

DSCF1510 DSCF1511

Looks like hatchling size to me but, seems a little out place in that much of the literature indicates breeding season starting around April with up to a 100 day gestation. So, we’ll assume he is probably last years brood going on 6-9 months old. Our resident ecologist Celina has them on her radar now. Won’t be long and I am sure she’ll be giving us a full rundown as soon she comes across one!

MOSI’s Newest Team Member

While touring with some guests from the EPC through the Back Woods this morning, we came upon (and nearly stepped on) on this super coo inducing little cutie. There might not be anything cuter in a sandhill than an itty bitty orange gopher tortoise baby. And, along with the news that a staff member relocated another the same size from the parking lots earlier in the week; I would say we have good evidence there is a reproducing population of gopher tortoise using the sandhills in the Back Woods! Yay!


And to put that size in a little better perspective…


Monday, April 6, 2009

Outdoor Stage Renovation


Boy Scout Andrew D. preformed some renovation work on the outdoor stage area as part of the requirements to earn his Eagle Scout status. This past Saturday; Andrew, family, and other scouts cleared the outdoor stage platform and surrounding area of weedy debris, reset the campfire rings and resurfaced all the seating with new stained and treated planks. Awesome work Andrew! MOSI and I thank you immensely!

outdoorstage_stitch stageseating_stitch

DSCN4506 Just to give you an idea of the improvement this photo is of the state of the seating area in July of 2008.

Snapping Turtle Tease

Man am I a sucker for critters. There is not a one out there I cannot be induced to coo over (well except maybe Huntsman spiders). Here is my latest coo.

DSCN0026 This little snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina) was making his or her way out of the stormwater retention to the wetland this morning. This is the time of year we might see aquatic turtles moving in and out of wetland areas to find mates.

DSCN0031 It may be a little early (but it seems like a lot of things are happening early this year) but this animal may have been moving out of the wetland looking for a nesting area to lay eggs.

A note on the photo quality. Sadly, my (personal) Nikon Coolpix 4500 has suffered some sort of malfunction. Borrowing a later generation coolpix from the museum exhibits department has been disappointing. Of course the question is…is it the user or the equipment…I’ll definitely take part of the blame in needing to get up to speed with a new camera but, the lens on this later model does not produce the color and clarity of my old 4500, sigh.