Field Notes 2011 Trout Creek (#007)
2011 Warden Notes From Warden Laurie Rockwell
On 11/04/2011 4:25 PM,
Laurie Rockwell wrote:
Mark, here are the news from my monthly tour:
• I was in the ER from 6.50-9.05 am; walk in and out time was 50 minutes.
• at 8.25 it was 7 degrees, with minimal wind and periods of sun.
• I saw or heard 11 species of birds, twice the number I expected in the winter, including a hooting Dusky Grouse and a pair of Mountain Bluebirds examining a hole in a small snag at the top of the east ridge;
• I have not found a nest in the ER for years.
• many plant species are in leaf, bud or flower. I found no knapweed rosettes on the old road and no Sulphur Cinquefoil at the site I am monitoring.
• I remove any that I find, so maybe that is why.
• there were no signs of human activity, including vandalism.
• see my March 11th report for the fence repairs that are needed.
I was in the ER for about 2.30 hours, plus 60 minutes of travel to and from:
• At 7.30 it was a pleasant 9 degrees with a modest breeze, clouds and intermittent sunshine; the grass was quite wet after it rained a lot during the night.
• I saw or heard an amazing 25 bird species for this time of year including the first Red-naped Woodpecker in the ER. They are common in this area, but not on the ER . I also heard a blue-listed Gray Flycatcher, which I believe is the earliest record to date, and saw a pair of Dusky Grouse , confirming a probable nesting record for the BC Breeding Bird Atlas in this square.
• While many plants were in leaf many were in flower. There seems to be a good number of Mariposa Lily plants in leaf; this plants numbers seem to fluctuate from year to year. I found no knapweed rosettes and it is too early to tell what the toadflax population will be this year. I found only one Sulphur Cinquefoil plant that I removed.
• I saw or heard no mammals although I found some crushed deer leg bones and a small pelvis that were not there in April. surprisingly, these were the first I have found in the ER.
• the new stile that was installed last year still needs to be stained, to help it last longer, and a small piece of fence just north of it needs to be repaired.
• all the previously needed fence repairs are still outstanding.
• the ER sign that was on the fallen fence on the talus slope has been taken and needs to be replaced as there is an old access trail leading up the slope at that point.
• the only insect was a fly that looked like a house fly.
• I saw no signs of human activity or vandalism.
• I will be leading my annual ER hike on May 21st for the Meadowlark Festival.
June 14 2011 Trout Creek ER. Tour
Laurie Rockwell wrote:
Here are the news:
• it was a pleasant hike in the ER as it was 18C at 8am,with clear skies, no wind and sunshine. I accidentally met Kirk Safford doing a bird census in the ER. In fact he saw a Dusky Grouse and one small young which confirms breeding status in that BC Breeding Bird Atlas square.
• I saw or heard 22 species of birds in a little over 2 hours, including the first ever European Starlings (about 12!). I will soon send you a revised bird list for the ER.
• I GPS’d the site of a 30cm Gopher Snake, that we saw on May 21st during the Meadowlark Hiking event, for Orville Dyer and noted all the dominant vegetation for his records. That was the first snake I have seen in the ER for years.
• I saw no mammals and only a few insects, all flies of some kind.
• Many plants are in (late)flower and some like the Brown-eyed Susan are just in bud while others are yet in leaf, like the late blooming blue-listed Narrow-leaved Brikellia. I found only one knapweed plant and none on the old road that was covered with it less than 10 years ago, so bio-control has been very effective. The mecinus beetle is happily munching on most toadflax plants; there are almost no plants in flower and many look unhealthy. I dug out 8 Sulphur Cinquefoil plants where I usually find them. The grasses and some plants like Timber milk Vetch are having a banner year !
• a local resident told me that he some others recently found a bear den on the ER after seeing a sow with 2 young.
• all fence repairs and the staining of the new stile are outstanding.
• I saw no sign of human activity.
Trout Creek July 10 2011
Here are the news:
• I was in the ER very early for 3 hours and the weather was mild with minimal wind and sunshine.
• I saw or heard 18 species of birds, including my first ever Swainson’s Thrush, species #78.
• Many flowers were in bloom, but an equal number were in seed.
• the best find was another 13 species of the red-listed Dalles milk-vetch, Astragalus sclerocarpa. Apparently this is one of only two known sites in BC. In the last week close to 100 plants have been found! The other (blue) listed species, Narrow-leaved Brikellia is in bud, a late bloomer.
• I saw or heard no mammals and only a few insects; no butterflies or grasshoppers. The toadflax is looking poorly, no doubt because of the mecinus beetle; there are very few flowers and all the plants are small and shriveled. I found only one beetle, so that must have struck out for “greener pastures”. Unfortunately, in an infested area I found only one Mariposa Lily in bloom where there used to be many.
• I pulled out 11 knapweed plants and 10 rosettes. They were scattered throughout the reserve with few on the old road that was once severely infested. Much less with bio-control than 20 years ago !
• there was no sign of human activity.
• all needed fence repairs are outstanding. As the old wooden posts rot out I am concerned that much of the fence will be in disrepair in the near future. If staff time can be used the cost for T-bar to replace the wood will be minimal if posts are replaced and minor repairs are done annually.
• the new stile still needs to be stained.
• local ecologist Don Gayton has put in several plant transects as part of the Parks 100 initiative.
Trout Creek Tour August 8 2011
• I was in the ER very early this morning, to beat the heat, for 2.15 hours, plus 30 minutes travel. It was 15degrees at 6.45, but my route kept me in the shade and refreshing breeze for most of it.
• I saw or heard 12 bird species, but no blue-listed Gray Flycatcher, I was pleased to see a late Calliope Humming bird and a Chipping Sparrow with one young.
• a lone squirrel was the only mammal. I saw no bear or coyote scat.
• I suspect that there was no bear scat as the crop of Saskatoon bushes in the dry areas is quite low. Further, the ER has no water so it is not attractive to mammals at this time of the year.
• I was delighted to find a new plant species, one that I had walked by many times, the White Clematis (Clematis ligusticifolia). I noticed only because its white seed heads literally glowed in the early light, against the top of the small pine tree that it is growing on. Judging by the size of the basal stem it has been there for some time, although there are only a few new vines growing from it. Maybe the very wet spring invigorated it? I was pleased to find many Douglas Knotweed (Polygonum douglasii) in flower along the sandy ridge that I walked from east to west, where the Dalles Milkvetch was found. The blue-listed Narrow-leaved Brikellia (Brikellia oblongifolia) is finally in flower; it is one of the last to flower. The mecinus beetle seems to have done a good job of stressing the toadflax as there are almost no flowers, the plants are all withered and there are relatively few seed pods. I found only 2 small knapweed plants that I pulled out and no Sulphur Cinqufoil after I deracinated about 15 plants this spring.
• I found a long nail in the ground, about 30cm. painted blue at the top. It is along the “dog`s leg“ È-W fence, just above where I dug up the cinquefoil and about 10m north of the fence; I flagged it with orange tape. I have no idea why it is there.
• no sign of human activity.
• all fence repairs and staining of the stile are outstanding.
Trout Creek Tour September 12 2011
• I was in the ER for 2.20 hours, plus 30 minutes travel to and from. It was about 14C at 7.20am, there was little wind and a lot of sun. It is very dry in the ER right now and very quiet.
• saw or heard 9 species of birds, 3 of them nuthatches, but also a lone Vesper Sparrow and a few Western Bluebirds that I did not expect. No blue-listed gray Flycatchers.
• the only insects were one moth and one grasshopper.
• I neither heard nor saw any mammals, but given that there is no water or wet areas on the ER I am not surprised. I saw numerous small bear scats complete with the requisite Saskatoon seeds in same. I did, however, see one very large bear dropping, bigger than any I have seen on the ER, that was about 3-4cm in diameter. I saw no seeds in this lot.
• I found no knapweed and no Sulphur cinquefoil ( my attempts to cull them seemed to be successful). The toadflax was only a shadow of its former self: dry and shriveled with few seed heads; many of the seed heads were small and unopened. I spent some time looking for the seed heads of the blue-listed Narrow-leaved Brickellia as they are easier to spot. I found approximately 120 plants. I know that there are more plants in disparate locations according to the information I got from Malcolm Martin, who was the first one to find this plant this far north in BC in 2002. He sent the information and the UTMs to the CDC at that time.
• finally, as you know, the fence repairs and staining of the new stile are still outstanding.
Trout Creek ER tour October 9 2011
Here are the news:
• I was in the ER for about 2.5 hours, plus 30 minutes travel in and out. It was a pleasant day, 13C at 8.30 and with only a few breezes under cloudy skies with some sunshine. It was very quiet as I expect this time of the year.
• I was very pleased to enter the ER via Don’s new “WYE”; a lot easier than climbing over the fence!
• I saw or heard 16 species of birds, but still no Sandhill Cranes overhead. I was pleased to see a Red-tailed Hawk and hear a Hairy Woodpecker: a species that occur infrequently in the ER.
• I saw only one insect, a small grasshopper.
• I saw no mammals and heard only one chipmunk.
• The only plant in flower was the Douglass Knotweed (Polygonum douglasii). I was surprised to see pink flowers as well as the usual white flowers. The plant is very prolific this year after being almost a no-show for a few years.
• I saw no signs of vandalism eg. fences cut, tracks left by (hunters) ATV’s .
• I noted that the newest stile has been stained, thanks to Trevor, I believe.
• Needed fence repairs are outstanding. While the portion of the fence at the talus slope, the most extensive to repair, is not critical to repair right now due to its location, there are a few fence posts in key areas that have rotted out and which should be replaced with steel T-bar. We can anticipate many more rotted out posts in the coming years since some fencing was done in 1977 and some in 1984.
Trout Creek Ecological Reserve November 13 2011
Here is the news for the last tour of 2011:
• I was in the ER for an hour and a half. It was about 3C with infrequent wind and sunshine. Snow coverage was 1-2cm from the bottom to the top.
• I saw or heard 6 species of forest birds, average for this time of the year. I was pleased to hear a Hairy Woodpecker for the second tour in a row as they are seldom seen or heard in the ER. I attribute this to the presence of the Western Pine Beetle that has appeared in small patches over the last few years. Ironically I did nor see or hear Red-breasted or Pygmy Nuthatches, which I usually do, but I did hear one White-breasted Nuthatch, which I often do not!
• I saw fresh coyote tracks and 7 Mule Deer on the sunny southwest slope of the East Ridge. Six deer were a mix of female and young about 2 years old and one was a beautiful 4-5 point buck. I saw another buck on the down side of the talus slope on the west ridge. Despite seeing deer I saw none of the damage they often do to small trees by rubbing their antlers on them.
• I saw no signs of human activity or vandalism.