Natural History Notes

Sunday, November 13, 2011

bugs in the water, again

I made it back to the Benthic project collection for the first time in months last Friday. Of course the whole project was derailed in the late summer because there warn’t no water. But the water’s back, at least some, and the critters too.

We went to the Burning Tree, Woodrow, and Gay Street sites. Jackson is still barricaded by the property-owner’s barbed wire. It will be a fairly quick lab session next week, because we didn’t get a whole lot. There were, I heard, dragonfly larvae in the Woodrow riffle, but I wasn’t picking that sample, so I didn't see them. Gay had lots of tiny, barely visible swimming thingies - scuds?? that had to be picked with the pipette, because you could never have caught them with the forceps. And a good many very fast and wiggly mosquito larvae. New folk, Faith and a guy whose name I didn’t absorb, joined us. Also Raquel, Theresa, Marilyn, John and Adelaide, and Don. No Kay.

Dragonfly and mosquito larvae images from Chris@184 Chris Bradbury and NZ Alex on Flickr. The pictures of John and Don, Adelaide, and Kay are from the Jackson site last April.

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Saturday, November 05, 2011

bees in flowers, and a farewell

Friday 4 Nov

It’s a quite lovely day today, pretty chilly but perfectly clear and pretty calm. Last night we were due for a freeze, which I guess we had, since the thermometer read 34° at 9 am, after an hour of sunshine already. But it was calm, after the extremely blustery cold front came in more than a day before, and it didn’t seem particularly cold. The almond verbena is still just fine. It’s almost head-high, though fairly slender, and the top part of it is almost all flower spikes. I have seen the bees working it this week, for the first time since I’ve had it.

The bees are also noisily busy in the yard-full of scarlet sage, and also at the turk’s-cap and ceniza, as well as the yellow wildflowers. Perhaps also in the slender vervain, which along with crow-poison has made a return in the fields, thinking it is spring. The winter honeysuckle is also blooming a bit out of season. However, though there are some surviving branches of the eleagnus, I have seen no sign of blooms there.

Goodbye to Whispering Oaks

Lat Saturday, the 29th, we had a very nice though bittersweet day out at Whispering Oaks, which is now closed. The weather was perfect. Chery, Kay, Rhonda, Julie Althouse, Mary, and I showed up for Troop 74 (and 86), and Laura was also there, as well as Mr. Cline, and Mrs. Kooker made an appearance too (can’t get my head around calling her Jean). They got us all together for a videotaped interview, which Mary has been sent for Special Collections in the library; she’s going to make a DVD.

We went down to the lake, which doesn’t look like it had the problems my pond had this summer. It’s obviously much deeper, in a steepish bit of terrain, and with a steeper dam, too. It looked very verdant, because solidly covered with duckweed.

--Ooh,there is a towhee outside the living-room terrace! Also the white-throats are here; I heard them calling on Halloween day.--

Julie, Chery, and I went prospecting down paths trying to find the campsite back at the back, where I remember my first Brownie day camp, and where they recall a Primitive Camp site (the once I went to Primitive, it was near the lake). By continuing on past the manicured beaten trail on a just-visible trace, we found it, and the back fenceline. Ran afoul of a few greenbriers.

The lake seemed the right size to me, and the camp territory as a whole. But the Big House was quite shrunken, and as for the filled-in fire pit!?! The gate arch at the entrance was barely wide enough for the shuttle bus, when I kind of remembered it as a broad opening. The parking lot seemed about right, but the long winding road up to the Big House was merely a brief stroll. That effect may partly have been because it is so highly cleared out now, no underbrush or passion flowers any where near the road.

Well, it was a nice day, It would be awfully nice if a non-profit bought it for a meeting-site, and kept the building, but I guess that’s unlikely. I could make a great house out of that building, but I suppose most people would find such an open plan a problem. And wintertime heat would probably be a problem, I guess. But Imagine a sleeping loft installed over maybe a third of the big room, and maybe the central fire restored -- well, maybe not, the current one works well.. Maybe removable partitions to enclose the low under-loft area, to keep just it warm in really cold weather, with a wood stove...