Back on the blog!

I am back on the blogging scene. It has been hard for me to stay motivated to write a blog post on a regular basis. It’s my hope that this will be the start of a continual, perhaps once a week, blog post on issues concerning my masters thesis, birding trips with my wife, or just observations made while “in nature”.

Having moved to North Carolina in the past month or so I have felt a rejuvenation to write a blog on observations made in nature. Louisiana, as warm and sunny as it was, wan’t conducive to the style of outdoor life my wife and I are accustomed to. Growing up in the Midwest we are both used to spending hours walking through city, county, state, and national parks. Louisiana, even with its extensive “outdoor” lifestyle, is more geared to the recreational hunter/fisherman. There is a lack of areas set aside for the avid birder, hiker, and backpacker. This is possibly due to topography of the state, with much of the state well below sea level, making it hard to provide trails and greenways that don’t become flooded for 3/4 of the year. The other possibility is that the state mentality is more set on the utilitarian aspect of nature seen more as what can the environment provide me, rather than what the environment does for me. This is seen in the overwhelming abundance of hunters, fisherman, ATV riders, and outdoor camps.

Spending most of my time in the Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge/Sherburne Wildlife Management Area which was the central location for my masters thesis research it became apparent how locals use state and national parks. I had to take particular care to avoid prime hunting times, setting my field work around times like opening season for deer (both gun and archery) and turkey. I can honestly say that while out conducting field work I encountered less than ten “non-hunters” during my entire field season. Most of these non-hunters were fellow researchers studying other organisms in the park or random birders. It was a surprise that I didn’t see more birders as the Atchafalaya is a major migration path for birds. In fact, the state and national parks erected a sign at the south entrance specifically noting the various birds using the river basin as a migration path.

In any case, I am glad to be in a state that values my style of outdoor recreation. My wife and I have spent every weekend since moving here out exploring a new city, state, or county park. North Carolina has so much to offer that we will be hard pressed to run out of things to do.

To close of this post I am going to include some pictures I have taken from fieldwork in the Atchafalaya NWR/Sherburne WMA. This is only the tip of the iceberg of pictures taken of my sites, organisms caught, and miscellaneous encounters over a years worth of fieldwork.

These little guys were fairly common in pitfall traps. They are by far one of the loudest calls for such a small body size. When listening to a Gastrophryne carolinensis call, it sounds as though a sheep/goat is being strangled or is trapped under a rock.

 

This last picture is of A. crepitans, a very cryptic frog. I have seen a wide variation of color patterns ranging from brown speckles to match mud and sand to black with green stripes that blend in with black soil and green vegetation. I had intended to do a side study on how phenotypic plasticity creates a wide variation of vertebral stripes in A. crepitans resulting in coloration that blends into various environmental backdrops (i.e. mud, detritus, vegetation, sand). I will post a longer explanation of this research idea in a later blog. Until then, back to nature.

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~ by npvbroek on 03/05/2011.

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