Friday, January 29, 2010

This Week’s Taters and Trash


Like gazing at clouds…the many shapes of air potatoes beg a little whimsical exercise of the imagination…

Rubber ducky tater…DSCN0962

Saguaro cactus tater… DSCN0963

Venus of Willendorf tater… DSCN0965

Martian landscape tater… DSCN0968

And then of course there is the trash…

Humpback whale added to the Back Woods species list, check….DSCN0956

Headless dinosaur…DSCN0958 …check?

And the random selection of delectables notably munched upon and abandoned along a well traveled critter trail…


Friday, January 22, 2010

New Trail Surface and More


What a wonderfully frosty start to the new year. Much of the Back Woods vegetation is thoroughly dormant right now. The few Semi evergreen and evergreen trees and shrubs stand out starkly against the sleeping skeletons of deciduous trees. The warming weather has brought our gopher tortoises out foraging to make up for lost time in a torpor over the wintery past couple of weeks. We did catch a fine example of some mighty generous and frosty gopher tortoise poo deposited right before the freezes.


Volunteers George, Shayna, and Catlin helped me finish pulling up the last of the plastic on the main trail in preparation for the new shell bed. Local contractor Scheid’s Tractor Service did an awesome job of laying out the shell and doing a finally grade by hand! Thanks Eddie, it looks great. The new trail really looks fabulous and feels great underfoot. It is definitely crunchy, as a couple of people noted, but that should evolve as the material breaks down under traffic. The new surface is now much safer surface for hikers of all abilities. Take a moment to peak your feet from time to time, there is some other fossiliferous material mixed in with shell. You might just find a sharks tooth or two if you have a keen eye.


More on the Volunteer front: Great news for the Back Woods! Volunteer Catlin has begun an internship with us in conjunction with finishing an Environmental Science and Policy degree at USF. We are very happy to have her input and help as we complete the last of the requirements of our EPC grant and move on implementing a new grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service rehabbing the uplands.

The past two weeks have been a doozies  for finding the weird in the Back Woods. A collection of the usual unusual as we continue to pick up and maintain the preserve.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Great Starts to a New Year

DSCN0381 New boardwalk complete January 2010

Yay, the boardwalk is complete! Kudos to Golf Coast Construction on their  attractive new addition to our Back Woods. A little more tidying up around the entry and exit and the boardwalk is really going shine as the first experience as you enter the Back Woods. Hard to believe it is even the same location when we look back to what was there a little over a year ago.

wetland overlook 07_03_2008 The boardwalk when we started in 2008

DSCN0389 DSCN0363

Golf Coast also spruced up our stormwater staging ponds by regrading and resodding them. Normally this would have been an easy dry winter task but our El Nino wet winter pattern left the ponds with plenty of water. Still the contractors made easy work of it and the stormwater system will function more as it was intended.

A crunchy icy slog through a mostly dry Buttonbush Pond yielded these pictures of the effects of the recent frosty weather. Just beautiful! The one good thing about a bout of thoroughly cold weather is that seems to make the forest a little healthier the following year. Many diseases and pest insects seem to be brought into check, deciduous trees appear to have more vigor, and even the some of the subtropicals seem renewed later in the year. And of course it does a number on the air potato, hoorah. Just about time for Tater round-up, stay tuned!!

florida eskimo Stay warm everyone, it will be the sub tropics again sometime soon…I promise!