Invasives be gone
This past week on the refuge we started working on collecting data for a project that will assist the refuge in controlling the invasive privet plant. Why is invasive privet bad? Like any other invasive species, they outcompete other native plants for habitat and space to grow. Additionally, the animals here at Big Oaks, including birds and rabbits, can't use privet for food or shelter; therefore not benefitting the ecosystem.
We collect our invasive privet data by going to designated latitude and longitude coordinates. We then measure out 100 meters along a specific azimuth (degree direction on a compass). We take vertical height measurements every five meters of any plant species at that spot and take pictures along the way. Here's a picture of our measuring setup and what privet looks like.
We also helped out preparing for a burn the fire crew would conduct later in the week. We took straw and placed it on top of one of the refuge's drained crawfish frog ponds. While the crawfish frog is currently endangered, they're also being threatened by a parasite. By burning the area the goal is that the heat produced by the fire will help eradicate the disease at the location.
Here is what it looked like after it was burned.
While moving the straw for the pond, we found a juvenile snake hiding between the hay bales.
We also went out looking for bumble bees for the project Mark mentioned in the last blog post. Here is one we were able to catch and he identified as most likely a common eastern bumble bee.
As the weather is cooling off, the leaves have already started to change on the refuge into beautiful oranges and yellows.
We had our second deer hunt of the season this past weekend, which included a rainy and cold first day. We continued to learn how to check in the deer and how to look at a buck's teeth to determine more specifically how old they are. There’s still plenty of deer on the refuge, sometimes we'll see some jumping over the roads when driving around. We'll continue taking hunt pictures throughout the rest of the year and post them to our Facebook so keep an eye out for that!