Friday, January 20, 2012

In the News

The winter season is the slowest of seasons in the swamp and at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest.  Some birds have migrated away, reptiles become inactive, and school groups are not interested in being out in the colder weather.  However, just because thinks have slowed down one should not get the idea that news is not happening.

The Post and Courier newspaper reported that Diamondback Rattlesnakes are being relocated instead of killed to preserve the species.  "The diamondback is a keystone species in the health of the longleaf savannah ecosystem, the pines that are the heart of the Lowcountry...and moving them to larger tracts of pinelands might be the best bet for conserving what is maybe the most hated native Lowcountry species -- a 6-foot-long, muscled arm-thick, venomous viper that people have stomped, chopped, shot and even dynamited for generations when they crossed paths."

We have several tracts of Longleaf Pine and plan to restore additional tracts as the land becomes available. We have made some cursory searches for Diamondback Rattlesnakes, but we have yet to detect any on Beidler Forest property.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources conducts a wading bird programFrom their site:  Researchers have placed metal bands, colored bands with engraved numbers and/or letters, wing tags, radio transmitters, and satellite transmitters on a small number of wading birds. We are interested in any sightings of marked birds. This information helps us to learn about the movement patterns and life spans of wading birds. More information about the purpose of banding birds can be found at the Bird Banding Lab website.

If you see a live bird with an engraved color band, we would appreciate it if you could attempt to read the numbers/letters on the band. Please also record the species of the bird, the color of the band, the color of the letters, which leg that band was attached to, and the location of the bird and send the information to Photographs of the bird and the band are also very helpful.

If you find a dead bird of any species wearing a metal band, please report the band number to the Bird Banding Lab through their website or by calling 1-800-327-BAND (2263).

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources also issued a news release regarding the value of snags.  The Post and Courier newspaper ran a brief article on the subject and used one of our images.

Using our image was appropriate as we have an ample of supply of snag in the old-growth swamp...

and as this Pileated Woodpecker shows, there is a bounty of food in the dead wood!

Using a Wasp to Catch a Beetle: The Quest to Save Ash Trees - The non-native Emerald Ash Borer arrived on a boat from Asia and is eating its way through millions of ash trees.  We have plenty of ash trees at Beidler Forest, so we don't relish the thought of these beetles making their way here.  The wasp technique described in the article was not used here when researchers checked for the Emerald Ash Borer two years ago.  Instead, traps with the attracting scent of a female were hung from trees.  Note: moving firewood to other areas is one way for these and other insects can reach and infest areas faster than they could naturally expand their range.

Images by Mark Musselman

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