Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Unintended Habitat Enhancement

If you have ever been a property owner outside of town or know someone who is, you have likely seen surveyor's blazes and boundary line painting.  The blazes, surveyor chops in the tree trunk forming a distinctive scar, point to the boundary line or a corner (change of direction) and are painted by us to make them visual apparent.

Boundary marker - Mark Musselman
Audubon's Francis Beidler Forest has over 100 miles of exterior boundary lines in addition to internal boundary lines and all of them need to be painted to ensure that there is no confusion as to their location.  For example, a logger working a neighboring property needs to know when to stop cutting or hunters need to know when they are about to cross into the sanctuary.

Yesterday, while doing some boundary line painting, we discovered that the surveyor's blazes have enhanced the habitat for some of the forest creatures.  The vast majority of the blazes were covered with spider webbing, but several held resting amphibians.  The first to be discovered was a small Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea) that was nearly skewered with a web-clearing machete.

Green Treefrog - Ricky Covey

Green Treefrog - Ricky Covey
The next treefrog, possibly a Squirrel Treefrog (Hyla squirella), got a dab of white paint before it was discovered.  A quick rinse from a bottle of water got it back to its natural color and on its way.  After two treefrogs in blazes, we were alert to the possibility and spotted the Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) before it was in danger of being cut or painted.

Gray Treefrog - Ricky Covey
We also encountered some species that needed no habitat enhancement, but that caused us to enhance our own attire.  Although snake boots can get uncomfortable after a day of stomping through the forest, stepping on a Southern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix contortrix) could certainly ruin a beautiful walk in woods!

Southern Copperhead - Ricky Covey

Southern Copperhead - Ricky Covey

No comments: