Saturday, June 23, 2012

The battle against Garlic Mustard...

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is an exotic invasive plant from Europe that has found its way into Stinchfield and has established itself as a pesky weed. Garlic Mustard invades woodlands, particularly disturbed areas such as along trails and roadways. Many people consider Garlic Mustard to be "Public Enemy #1" because it has been found to negatively impact forest health and threatens the blooming of spring flowers; plus, it is extremely hard to get rid of. Thanks to dedicated and thoughtful Stinchfield regulars (like Tony!) lots of Garlic Mustard is plucked yearly which is helping to prevent the continued spread of this invasive species. You may have noticed some uprooted green plants strew onto the trails-- most likely you see Garlic Mustard (or another invasive) that someone pulled out and threw into the middle of the trail so that  it won't re-root

This is what Garlic Mustard looks like at this time of year (Mid-June). It can be quite tall and it is beginning to senesce (meaning reach maturity and turn brown)

Someone plucked 10 garbage bags full of Garlic Mustard from the road going up to the radio tower.

You will also see piles of Garlic Mustard thrown to the sides of trails.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Passing the torch to new caretakers

After two great years at Stinchfield, we (Zane and Amanda) graduated and therefore must pass the torch to new caretakers. We have really enjoyed the peace and beauty of Peach Mountain and getting to know all the people who love Stinchfield Woods. Our two years were spent doing regular maintenance (removing downed trees from trails, cleaning out the classroom, cutting the grass, keeping up the house) and making long-term contributions such as invasive species removal, public outreach (the blog and Facebook), and the new map. It seems that every caretaker makes their mark on Stinchfield in their own way and we hope that we created a greater sense of community. Thanks!!

New map of Stinchfield!!

Finally, an updated map of Stinchfield! We used the iPhone app Map My Hike to re-map all the trails, which were then added to Google Earth. However, the accuracy wasn't perfect so we couldn't just post a digital copy. Instead we made this fun map complete with little cartoons of major landmarks! We hope that this helps you to explore new trails and discover new parts of Stinchfield. We provided a few laminated copies of the map at the gate on Stinchfield Woods Road, but we ask that you return them when you finish your walk. You may print your own map from the blog.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I spy poison ivy!

Stinchfield is covered in poison ivy! It is a native climbing vine that can cause a very itch rash if you get the oil on your skin. If you do come in contact with poison ivy, clean the area with rubbing alcohol as soon as you can. Soap can sometimes spread the oil around. Drug stores sell a special type of soap that will get rid of poison ivy oil. And don't think that you are safe if you never got it before! I never had it before until last year. In the fall, it develops beautiful white berries. All parts- the leaves, vine, berries, etc.- can have oil. The photos below will help you better identify it.

See the vine on the tree? The vine branches out and can look like the branches are actually coming off the tree itself. 

This is a close-up of the leaves from the vine in the photo above. They are hanging low enough to touch.

There is lots of poison ivy covering the forest floor. It has three leaves: the 2 side leaves always have "thumbs" (those lobes on the sides). The middle leaf sometimes has "thumbs".

I think that the "thumbs" on a plant with three leaflets is the best way to identify poison ivy.

Can you spot the poison ivy in this photo? It is mixed in with another common vine that looks alot like poison ivy. Virginia Creeper has 5 leaves, instead of 3, and has little tiny suction-cup looking parts that grow out of the vine that helps it climb. Poison Ivy has things that look like roots that grow out of the vine and helps it climb, but has no suction-cups at the tips.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Breeding Bird Survey, 2012

The annual breeding birds survey was conducted by 19 volunteers on June 3rd. They counted the Barred Owls that we have been seeing lately! It appears that there is a low species count but a large number of individuals compared with their 15 years of data. The following is directly from their website:

"For two decades, volunteers have participated in the Stinchfield Woods Breeding Birds Survey by counting birds heard and seen on a weekend morning in early June. The count typically yields species from Michigan's north such as Pine, Blackburnian, and Black-throated Green Warblers, Blue-headed Vireos, and Red-breasted Nuthatches and Ohio's south such as Acadian flycatchers and Hooded warblers.
Year 2012's count took place on a pleasant, sunny Sunday, June 3, 2012, from 7 to 11 am. Special thanks go to our big crew of 19 volunteer counters.

Seen for only the second time in 15 years was a BARRED OWL, and not one but two owls, voicing a resounding "Who-cooks-for-you!" at a gang of harrassing crows, jays, etc., giving chase.
Most numerous individuals in a species were American crow (66), perhaps on high alert for the owls, followed by Black-capped chickadees (53), Chipping sparrows (50), and Eastern wood-pewees (47).

Holding their own in terms of numbers are PILEATED WOODPECKERS at 3, HOODED WARBLERS at 14, Black-throated green warblers at 15, Pine warblers at 44, and Red-eyed vireos at 53.
No species was conspicuously absent except for Canada Geese, and they are usually heard flying overhead, not residing at Stinchfield. For the second year in a row, numbers of these species continue to be low: Indigo buntings at 12 (average = 22.2). Wood thrush at 5 (average 7.6), and Downy woodpeckers at 4 (average 7.4).

Ending the day at 11 am was a lone Double-creasted cormorant flying high above our rendezvous spot, a species seen for the first time at at Stinchfield. After the count, Roger lamented fewer bird species than usual, and he was right. Today's total of 50 species was the second lowest in 15 years -- well below the 15-year average of 56.4 birds. In terms of numbers of individuals, we counted 807 species, the third highest in 15 years, well above the 15-year average of 755.4.

Please mark your calendars now for next year's Stinchfield count on Sunday, June 2, 2012, 7 to about 11 am. Thanks again to the nineteen birders who took part in this year's count. You made it possible for us to partition the woods into sixths so that we could take our time birding and enjoying the day."

Thank you to the volunteers! We appreciate the data that you gather!