Friday, August 31, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
After removing a section of the vine and returning to the office, nobody on the crack staff could identify it from memory. We check Richard Porcher’s A Guide to the Wildflowers of South Carolina, but did not see anything like our vine. Next, we went to the Internet in search of a dichotomous key. A dichotomous key poses a question regarding the subject (plant, rock, bird, fish, etc.) that you are trying to identify. For example, "Are the leaves simple?" If yes, you might be sent to question #2. If no, you might be sent to question #20. There you will find another question with only two possible answers. Each answer will lead to another question until only one possible answer remains. That would be the identification of your subject.
In our case, we found our answer at the end of question #31 although we did not need to answer 31 questions. Our mystery vine is Yellow Passion-flower (Passiflora lutea), which is referenced in Porcher’s book but not pictured. According to Porcher "the common name comes from the resemblance of the floral parts to the story of Christ’s Passion; the styles resemble nails; the 5 stamens, the wounds Jesus received; the purplish corona [of the related Passiflora incarnata], the bloody crown; the 10 perianth parts, the 10 disciples (Peter and Judas being absent); the coiled tendrils, the whips for scourging; the pistil, the column where Christ was scourged; and the flower in the background of dull, green leaves represents Christ in the hands of His enemies. Interestingly, the flower’s life is generally three days."
Friday, August 24, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Here are the highlights from the last year's Daniel Island cleanup:
- 9/16/06, 9 am - 11 am
- 46 people working (1 Audubon employee, 10 Daniel Island residents, 35 non-resident Charleston County School of the Arts parents, students or staff)
- 75 trash bags
- approx. 800 lbs of trash (including 2 truck tires, landscaping mesh, paint buckets, railroad rails, man-size buoy)
- the vast majority of the litter consisted of beverage containers followed closely by food containers and utensils
- 2.0 hrs of work to clean 0.5 mile along the Wando River edge of Daniel Island (most of this was City of Charleston Parks Department property)
- trash was divided into recyclable and non-recyclable piles and removed to the appropriate facility by the City of Charleston
All participants should meet at the Children’s Park on River Landing Dr. at 9:00 a.m.
An Audubon South Carolina staff member will be at the site to provide directions, trash bags and water. Participants should bring work gloves and be prepared to get their feet wet and muddy. Sturdy, closed-toe shoes are recommended along with sunscreen, hats, and insect repellent.
The statewide event is organized by the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium and S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Beach Sweep River Sweep is held in conjunction with The Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. The 2006 results for this site can be found (line 32) here and images can be found here.
If you would like to participate at this site or need further information, including maps and directions, please contact: Mark Musselman at Audubon South Carolina (843) 462-2150, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
Thursday, August 09, 2007
This morning, the view out of the office window at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest was slightly obscured by the overnight arrival of a Black-and-yellow Argiope (Argiope aurantia).
Except for the characteristic "writing" in the middle of the web, the deadly silk is nearly invisible. The zig-zag webbing is called a stabilimenta, because it was originally believe to aid in stabilizing the web. There are several hypotheses regarding the purpose of the stabilimenta, but the strongest appears to be that the highly visible threads prevent birds from flying through and destroying the web. Also, only diurnal (in the day) spiders add the stabilimenta to their webs.
This Black-and-yellow Argiope is quite patient. During a day of observation on her web just beyond the computer screen, she has moved exacty twice. Once to pounce on and quickly devour a tiny flying insect and once to pounce on, wrap up, and slowly drain a medium-sized fly. The rest of the day has been spent as seen in the image. Patiently waiting for the next meal to fly through what likely appears to be an opening in the forest though, the web and clean glass would demonstrate otherwise.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
This is the second earliest first-sighting of a fall migrating American Redstart here at Beidler Forest. This bird is on its way to Central American, the Caribbean, or northern South America. It will need plenty of food for the trip. We hope it likes its food hot, because it is pushing 100F today!
As noted in The Post and Courier excerpt from yesterday's paper (see image), a 5-year-old child was killed in Oklahoma after a police officer shot at a snake in a tree.
This is a tragedy for many reasons. First and foremost, a young child is gone and the loss will weigh heavily on both the family and the police officer. Second, the accident was avoidable, since the snake in a tree was not an immediate danger to anyone. There was time to call animal control and have the snake safely removed if nearby residents insisted. Third, a snake in a tree in Oklahoma was not likely a venomous snake and therefore would not be a danger, immediate or otherwise, to humans. Fourth, even the most basic hunter/gun safety class points out that one must account for individuals or property down range from the target.
Snakes perform a vital role in ecosystems around the world. In the United States, an individual has a 1:10 million chance of dying from a snakebite. The vast majority of these bites are diamondback rattlesnakes with the vast majority of those being the western variety. Neither variety are likely to be up in a tree and neither are likely to bite unless provoked.
The King, the Mice and the Cheese by Nancy Gurney and Eric Gurney points out the folly and unintended consequences of removing an unwanted species from the the environment. In the story the king wanted the mice removed since they were eating his cheese. He had cats chase away all the mice, but then was unhappy with the behavior of the cats. The king had dogs chase away the cats, but then found the multitude of dogs to be an issue. After elephants called to remove the dogs began to destroy the palace, the king invited the mice to return to remove the elephants(because we all know how elephants hate mice) . The king and the mice then agreed to coexist.