by Joee Cortina
Welcome to week 6 of CLIP! The summer is well underway – as I write this, we just passed over the halfway point of the program! As interns, we continue learning and working more and more every week, so it’s bittersweet to realize how close we are to the end.
On Monday, we started our day by pulling more wild parsnip at Tryon Grove (shocking, I know). We completely finished off the area that was started last week, which was very rewarding to see. Once our initial section was fully parsnip-free, we started on another section of the site. According to Kim, we’re the first group of interns who have touched the parsnip in that section – a fact that was made very clear from the eight-foot tall jungle of giant ragweed.
After lunch, we made our way over to Boloria Meadows to meet with Pete Jackson and Eric, an intern for Hackmatack, for our second round of butterfly monitoring. This time around, we encountered a plethora of Monarchs (Danaus plexippus), along with some Sulfurs (Colias eurytheme/philodice), Pearl Crescents (Phyciodes tharos), Great Spangled Fritillaries (Speyeria cybele), Azures (Celastrina ladon/neglecta), a couple Pearly Eyes (Enodia anthedon) and Black Swallowtails (Papilio polyxenes), and finally, a Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). Pete was knowledgeable as always, and it was really cool to be able to identify some butterflies on our own that we had learned about last time we were there! In the evening, we attended TLC’s Conservation Committee meeting where the topics of discussion ranged from beavers to solar farms on easements. It was very interesting being able to sit in on their meeting, see how the committee works, and gain insight on public relations in the field of local conservation.
On Tuesday, we finished our work removing parsnip at Irish Oaks. Once we couldn’t find any more parsnip, we checked an area for Bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus). The CLIP group last year had removed all of it from that area, and we had to check if any had come back this year. Luckily, their removal seemed to work – we couldn’t find a single piece of it! We finished off the day by taking some observations down for our research project. The seedlings have grown quite a bit from when they were first planted, but it’s still hard to distinguish them from the non-experimental plants that snuck their way into the cups. We’re rolling with the punches, though, so weed quantity is going to be noted as a part of the experiment now. I’m excited to see how the experiment goes in these next few weeks!
Rain and storms were on the forecast for today, so we had plenty of activities prepped in case the weather predictions were correct. Luckily, or not (depending on how you want to look at it), the rain held off until lunch time. So we started with more parsnip removal! We got a large chunk of parsnip and teasel at Prairie Ridge, along with some white and yellow sweet clover. Nari and Katie were even able to plant some Clasping/ Sand milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) before the rain came! Once we got rained out after lunch, we were tasked with separating the Yellow star grass (Hypoxis hirsuta) seeds from the chaff. We actually collected these seeds a few weeks ago, so it was really cool to see them through to the final process before they’re able to be distributed out for planting. It was a relaxing end to our day – much needed after three days of parsnip removal.
On Thursday, we helped out with a workday at Windy Knoll. Emma and I started by clearing out a whole patch of thistle. I cut the seeding heads off and collected them to be burned while she went through and sprayed the plants. My personal lesson for the week is that I need to invest in some more heavy-duty pants (you try walking through thistle for an hour and get back to me on how pleasant it is being able to feel everything). Meanwhile, the group cut down a bunch of woody invasives, and I enjoyed hauling things to the fire and doing some cut-stump painting to prevent regrowth. We ended the day with some invasive removal at Wolf Oak Woods. It’s a gorgeous site, now made even better with significantly less teasel, thistle and multiflora rose.
Any guesses on how the day started on Friday? I’ll give you a hint – it included parsnip. Obviously, parsnip season is still upon us, and it’s not going to remove itself. So, we removed all of it we could find at Apple Creek. Once there was no more parsnip in sight, we made our way back to the truck for lunch, clearing out any Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota) and Sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis and Melilotus albus) that we saw along the way. After lunch, we made self-watering bottles for the Clasping milkweed that was planted earlier in the week. We had to punch small holes in some old juice bottles and attach them to stakes. The heat from the air temperature should pressurize the plastic bottles, allowing them to release water into the soil, slowly watering the plants. We also put the bottles out, spread more seed at Remington Grove, and took some scrap metal to the scrap yard. It was a busy, eclectic end to our week, but we had fun.
Even with the tornado warnings and other undesirable weather this week threw at us, we still made the best of it. That being said, I’m looking forward to the last few weeks of our summer together!