Flowers on the ground, animals in the grass, interns in the truck and water!
Spring at the refuge has arrived!
Blue bells, spring beauties, mayapples, yellow rockets, hepaticas, daffodils, trilliums and many more are blossoming; adding white, yellow, violet, and blue to the Big Oaks landscape. As we drive along the Eastern and Western roads of the refuge, purple Deadnettle and Henbit flowers paint the crop fields violet. Some of these flowers are native, others are not - planted by the people who once had homes on the refuge. VERY green grass carpets the black areas that were burned not too long ago. On one side of the road, we have the golden grasses and on the other side the green grasses. The purple/pink flowers from the redbuds arch us as we walk through the trees. What other colors does Big Oaks have in store?
Animals are coming out to enjoy the warmer weather. Racoons, opossums, squirrels, turtles, snakes, many birds and raptors, and butterflies “greet” us as we do our daily chores. The raccoons run up a tree if we get too close. The opossums wobble away or freeze waiting to see if we are a threat. The turtles start crossing the road and stop - we move them in the direction they were heading towards. The truck doors always swing open when a snake is spotted- we have to go take a look at it! They also give us a scare when found in buckets! The Swallowtail and Sulphur butterflies fly from one flower to the next drinking the nectar. The carpenter bees are making their homes in anything made out of wood. The squirrels are asking to get run over. So are the birds. They never know where to go as we drive along the road. The woodcocks dart out of the grasses by the road. The male red wing black birds fight over pond ownership. The killdeer do the broken wing dance to distract us if we get too close to their eggs. The red shouldered hawks glide from tree to tree. The many sparrows fly from branch to branch - you have to be fast at identifying them before they are gone. The kestrels love the power lines - they are scanning the ground below them for their next meal. The black and turkey vultures (here all year long) circle high above our heads.
We also have other not so welcome visitors. Ticks and leeches. Mosquitoes are probably coming soon.
Catching Crawfish frogs in buckets has come to an end. The buckets have been closed and the drift fence taken down. Our last visitor was a 47.7g gravid (with eggs) female. The youngest and smallest crawfish frog caught this season! All the best, little one! It is now up to us to feed the tadpoles with algae pellets and protect them from predators by placing them in large cages in the ponds. Most of the egg masses have hatched and most are free swimming!
A new frog has come along, the Cricket frog! These frogs always come a little later in the Spring. They are small like spring peepers but look for the distinct darker triangle pattern on the top of their head.
We saw three river otters and a barred owl yesterday!
Wildlife never stays long enough for us to get a good picture/video of them. Especially because when we see them we are moving, but what great sights to see and what a time to be on the refuge!
Don’t forget, Big Oaks opens for public use this coming Monday, April 17th! From 7am to 4.30pm; every Monday and Friday and second and fourth Saturdays of every month. Make sure you stop by the office to watch the safety video and to get your pass. More information on the website: https://www.bigoaksconservationsociety.org/contact-5
Black vultures take flight.
Midland banded water snake - found him in a bucket!
Cricket frog holding on to a twig.