My World and Welcome to It!

These are my thoughts and opinions about life in general. I also get daily prompts from DSP which inspire me to write. If I throw in some scrapbook pages I've done, photos I've taken, and stories about me, you will have an idea about my loony life!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Nature’s Villains and Heroes

033 (For pictures: click HERE. For video of Ranger Tim talking about turkey vultures: click HERE.)

Hello everyone. I’m Olivia the Owl coming to you from National Wildlife Radio. If you missed our weekly show last night, I’m posting the transcript of the interviews that took place. I had a wonderful time interviewing many villains and heroes that you might encounter in nature. I hope you enjoy them. Stay tuned next week because I will have another great show!


Olivia: Welcome to the National Wildlife Radio. Tonight I will be interviewing a lot of interesting guests who have an impact on the world around us. Our first villain tonight is Wilma the Wooly Adelgid. Welcome Wilma!

Wilma: Thank you Olivia for having me here tonight. You picked a great time actually because I had just finished some tasty hemlock when you called me.

Olivia: Hmmm. Yes, well, Wilma, please tell us more about the wooly adelgid and your life. Our guests are very interested in why you are destroying their forests.

Wilma: Well, I don’t really consider it destroying because I see it as my way of life. I don’t mean to be the villain because I can’t help it if I love those hemlocks! First of all, let me tell you how we arrived here. My ancestors arrived in the 1950s in the Shenandoah Valley on ornamental hemlocks from Asia. They loved it here so much that they headed north and spread out. Of course, they didn’t get really established and noticed until the 1980s when we started cleaning out all of the hemlocks in our path. We lay eggs in this wooly waxy stuff to protect them. If something tries to eat them, they will spit them out. We can lay two generations of eggs in five months around March to May. In June and July the eggs are laid but stay in hibernation. By the end of November, those developed from larva become adult and start feeding. Temperature drops, light changes, moisture changes are signals to become adults and begin feeding so more eggs can be laid in March.

Olivia: How do you move from tree to tree?

Wilma: We move on small mammals or catch a ride on the wind or raindrops. Sometimes birds will give us a lift without knowing it too. Of course we don’t let them know we are catching a ride because we are usually eating away their home.

Olivia: So, you think that you cannot be stopped. Is that true?

Wilma: Yes. Scientists are introducing some beetle from Japan that will take us out but we will find ways to outmaneuver them. Our families are banding together to find a way to wage war against them and no one will know how we will do that.

Olivia: Well, thank you Wilma for coming on our show. Hopefully one of our staff will show you out. (whispers: And hopefully that beetle from Japan is waiting for you outside that door!) Our next villain is Cindy the centipede. Welcome Cindy!

Cindy: Thanks Olivia. I’m glad to be here.

Olivia: Tell us about your day yesterday. You had some excitement?

Cindy: Oh yes. Ranger Tim brought a group of students out to find invertebrates on the forest floor. They sifted through the leaf stuff on the ground and found lots of interesting things such as ants, spiders, millipedes, snails, slugs, worms, red velvet mites, yellow jackets (and their nest), and earwigs.

Olivia: It sounds wonderful. Now, would you tell us the difference between you and a millipede? You both look so much alike to me.

Cindy: Well, centipedes are venomous and we kill our prey. Plus we have one leg per segment. Millipedes are poisonous and have 2 legs per segment.

Olivia: Well, thanks Cindy for being here today. One of the staff will show you the way out. And please don’t kill Millie the Millipede. She is quite frightened of you. Now our next guest is a good friend Teddy the Turkey Vulture. Some people think he is a villain and others think he is a hero. Hello Teddy!

Teddy: Thank you Olivia. I’m so glad to be here. Yes, some people feel that I’m a villain because I’m not as pretty as other birds and because I find eating dead stuff delightful! Hmm, is that a dead rat over there in the corner?! Oh, sorry, I get so easily distracted.

Olivia: Ummm, oh yes, well Teddy, let’s leave lunch for later, okay? Will you share with us some information about the area where you live?

Teddy: I live in the Blue Ridge Escarpment which is an abrupt change in elevation from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the piedmont. As the temperature changes, so does the flora and fauna. Moisture increases. Right now in the fall you will see a lot of blooming asters including White Snakeroot, New England Asters and Goldenrod.

Olivia: It seems like there are a lot of visitors at Caesar’s Head State Park right now. Can you tell us why they are there?

Teddy: Yes, they are there to see the Hawk Migration and many are volunteers to count how many hawks go through here.

Olivia: And how do you feel about this hawk migration?

Teddy: Well, a lot of us local birds have mixed opinions. Many feel aggravated because these hawks come in and take over the best homes and eat a lot of the food that is available. In fact, some may even bully the locals and eat them for dinner. The songbirds usually fly about early in the morning before the hawks get lively so they don’t get eaten. Others like me are just used to this happening and don’t let it bother us. Usually during this time, I find lots of extra food and even invite the relatives to visit to help eat on the buffet.

Olivia: Why do these hawks come here and how do they know where to go?

Teddy: This area is famous for the thermals that occur and make it easy for birds to get lift in order to fly longer distances. In fact, this area is well advertised in many of our aviary travel magazines! It is kind of nice to live in a tourist attraction I guess. Now, when migrating, the hawks have an internal compass, use the sun and light, as well as follow their buddies so they know which direction to go. Of course the ones that are too old, too sick, get lost, or give up and die become dinner for me! Yummy.

Olivia: Well, we appreciate the information you gave us Teddy and we hope to see you again soon (but hopefully not as dinner). Now our last guess is Penny the Praying Mantis. Hello Penny. Where did you encounter a group yesterday?

Penny: Hi Olivia. The same group that Cindy saw came over to Bald Rock Heritage Preserve to look at the area. I guess I surprised them when I hopped on Ranger Tim’s shoulder to get a better look at what he was talking about.

Olivia: Oh, and what did he share with the group?

Penny: He showed them different types of lichens (crustose, foliose, fruiticose, squamulose), citrus grass, and Appalachian Fame Flower. The group seemed very interested in the things they saw here. Of course some were fascinated by seeing me even though I’m not native to this area. Ranger Tim was glad that I wasn’t choosing him for a mate since I’d have to kill him! LOL

Olivia: Yes, I’m glad you didn’t have to kill the ranger Penny. Rangers are our friends and seem to understand our role in nature. I’m sorry to say we have run out of time for this show. I want to thank all of our villains and heroes for joining us. And until next time, have a great week!

(Having students act out different characters is a great way to learn information. Writing the character’s script would be a great way to improve reading and writing as well as integrating content. Have you ever done this with students? If so, how did it work? What advice would you give?)

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Monday, September 20, 2010

From the Diary of Darren the Daddy Long Legs

006 For pictures, click here.

What a day I had today! I saw Ranger Tim heading down the trail with another group of “students” and I knew today would be interesting. I love when he brings groups here to Jones Gap because I get so learn so much from him. Of course my mom and dad worry about my adventures but they don’t mind when I come back and tell them how much I learned. When I get back home, my mom makes me write down everything in my diary so I won’t forget. They are just afraid that someone will decide I’m dangerous and step on me. So, today, I hitched a ride on Ranger Tim’s clothes because I knew he wouldn’t hurt me.

Here is what I learned today:

1. Private citizens formed the Mountain Bridge Wilderness and Naturaland Trust was a big part of this.

2. From 1931 -1963 trout were raised here.

3. Before then, this was the major thoroughfare from Greenville to North Carolina and it was the Solomon Jones toll road. Carriage with two horses paid a dollar but pedestrians paid a penny. Folklore says that Solomon Jones let Suzy the pig loose at the bottom so he would find the easiest way to home and food. That is how he knew how to make the road.

4. The Blue Ridge Escarpment is in NC, SC, and GA.

5. Jones Gap is in the top 5 ecological hotspots on the planet according to the Nature Conservancy.

6. Islands in the sky refer to the tops of mountains; certain organisms can’t survive in warmer climates so they move up in elevation.

7. Greatest diversity of salamanders in Appalachian Mountains because of islands in the sky.

8. A cove is surrounded on 3 sides by mountains; one way in and one way out.

9. The overlapping communities are what give the diversity.

10. The weather station behind the building is part of a microclimate study.

11. Jones Gap has an east west orientation. It has the same climate as Pennsylvania. Northern species growing right beside southern species.

12. Hurricane Ivan hit in 2004 and toppled trees on one side of the cove.

13. Beechdrops (Epifagus) – feeds on roots of beech trees

14. Beech trees are near water and have coppery leaves in the winter.

15. Pines and evergreens cause the soil to be too acidic for salamanders.

16. Green salamanders love beech trees because smooth trunk allows lichens and mosses to grow.

17. Holes in rocks due to drills for blasting. Due to erosion, soil is lower than the rocks.

18. Broad beech fern grows near beech trees; one stem and triangular in shape.

19. 5 distinct layers in this forest: canopy, understory or subcanopy, shrub layer, herbaceous layer, and forest floor.

20. Canopy gaps allow sunlight to reach forest floor.

21. Jones Gap is a young forest because a lot of the timber was used in the 1940s.

22. Fraser Magnolia or mountain magnolia – lobed on the bottom.

23. Deciduous magnolias – Tulip Poplar, Cucumber Magnolia, and Fraser magnolia

24. Maple Leaf viburnum – has a maple leaf and several stems and is not a tree

25. Sweet shrub – repeating pattern, opposite leaves, drip tip, entire seed pod stays on most of the year, mice feed on seed pod, shiny leaf (aka boobybush; blooms same time as service berry)

26. Saprolite is chemically weathered rock. This is where we get our sand from and why it is not the fine sand found on beaches like FL.

27. Bears – like tree cavities; dens that are tight and not wet.

28. SC black bears do not hibernate. Females that are giving birth will den and if it is cold, males will den.

29. Copper Button – terrestrial snail and are left handed

30. Chestnut Oak has white meat acorns. Red oak has red or orange acorns due to the tannic acid

Oh, now Ranger Tim is talking about me! He mentioned about how I like to use my 2 legs as sensory tools to check out my environment. I’m so glad he told the people that I was not poisonous because then they would get sick if they touched me. Then people think I’m venomous but that isn’t true either because I eat dead stuff. What would I use the venom for? I hate carrying stuff that isn’t any use to me, so I’m not dragging venom around with me, that’s for sure! I also don’t build a web but I harvest my food. And I do bite so you might feel me nibble on you a bit.

Okay, now back to my notes…

31. Jones Gap is a natural cold water habitat.

32. There are 4 major watersheds: Savannah, Santee, Pee Dee, and Ace Basin

33. Jones Gap is the water shed for the Middle Saluda.

34. Santee is the largest watershed in SC.

35. Santee Delta is the largest delta on the eastern seaboard.

Now it was time for the water fun. Ranger Tim pulled out the minnow traps and some fish to show the group. There were the 2 most common minnows: Yellow fin Shiner (males have red fins; during spawning, males are bright pink) and Blue headed chubs (builds the rock nests that the shiners use; black spot on back fin, clear tubes by eyes, during spawning, slate colored heads). The mouth shape indicates where they feed so bigger lower jaw means they eat above them and bigger upper jaw means they eat below them. He also showed a crayfish which has gills near its abdomen, pink due to iodine.

Then I got to watch the groups of people play in the water. They were looking for some of my friends under rocks to look at under the microscope. Others were testing the temperature and the turbidity.

When everyone returned to the lab, Ranger Tim put my friends under the microscope so the class could see them better. They were like TV stars as they showed up on the HDTV screen. The class saw a water penny, mayfly nymph, stonefly nymph, gilled snail, caddisfly larvae, caddisfly case and a crayfish and it was so cool to see everyone up close and personal! I can’t wait to tell my friends that I saw them on TV but I wish they could see this too. Of course, I’m sure they were scared because they didn’t know what was happening to them and they were afraid they wouldn’t get to see home again. But I could have told them that Ranger Tim would take care of them and not hurt them.

After that I had to leave so I wouldn’t be late for dinner. I also wanted to rush out before the class so no one would accidentally step on me. It was a lot of fun and I learned so much. Next week they will go to Caesar’s Head State Park. I wish I could go with them.

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Visiting Boris the Bat

Welcome ladies and gentlemen. My name is Boris and I want to welcome you to my humble abode, the Stumphouse Tunnel in South Carolina.

I have lived here for a few years with many of my family and friends. As you can see, it isn’t very fancy but we love it here. It stays a pretty constant temperature here and protects us during the winter. I’m so glad someone put up that gate even though you may find it frustrating. It was really upsetting to us when we kept having uninvited guests who just walked into our homes uninvited and thought we should stop our regular routine and entertain them! Now we usually go in and out the back door where people can’t disturb us.

I would like to share with you some information that is scaring me and the others who live here. Just like in your world, you worry about cancer and AIDS¸ we have something called White Nose Syndrome or WNS. My wife Natasha was diagnosed with it. First we saw white stuff on her nose, then ears and then wings. She started to drive us crazy because she wanted to fly outside in the daylight instead of sleeping with the rest of us. When she left, she would whoop and holler so the rest of us would wake up. I don’t know when she became such a party animal but it was sad. Instead of resting in the winter when we were supposed to hibernate, she wanted to go out and party. Those that do that rarely lived long. She lost more and more body fat until she couldn’t survive any longer and we lost her last year. We had hoped to have another child this year but then she became afflicted with this disease. My son and I miss her very much even though we had only been together for two years.

We appreciate all the researchers trying to find out what is causing WNS and trying to help keep it from spreading. We hope that they don’t give up on us. They have come up with some ways to hopefully keep the disease from spreading. Since they aren’t exactly sure how it is spreading, they are asking anyone who visits a cave, not to bring anything in it that has been in another cave in the past five years. One lady today had paper booties on to cover her shoes (wasn’t she thoughtful!). All of the people had the flashlights in Ziploc bags so they could throw them away when they left. Their clothes could be washed and disinfected. According to some government paper, they found some chemical products that kill the spores such as:

“1. Lysol® IC Quaternary Disinfectant Cleaner (0.3% quaternary ammonium compound minimum) - 1 part concentrate to 128 parts water or 1 ounce of concentrate per gallon of water;

2. Lysol® All-purpose Professional Cleaner (0.3% quaternary ammonium compound minimum);

3.Formula 409® Antibacterial All-Purpose Cleaner (0.3% quaternary ammonium compound minimum);

4. A 10% solution of household bleach - 1 part bleach to 9 parts water (an estimate of 1:9 is insufficient);

5. Lysol® Disinfecting Wipes; or

6. Boil submersible gear in water for 15 minutes”

There is an organization that seems to be helping bats called Bat Conservation International that has some interesting information. You can also google “white nose syndrome” if you want to know more. Unfortunately we don’t have any computers here in the tunnel but we hear about these when there are educational groups brought into the tunnel. You see, my ears pick up on lots of neat stuff since we use echolocation to get around. So, if you have any secrets you don’t want bats to know, don’t say it anywhere near them. But at least we don’t go spreading any gossip!

I hope you enjoyed your visit to my home. Please spread the word to your friends about our cause. Explain to them that we love to have them visit and learn more about us but we would appreciate if they could take whatever precautions are necessary to ensure our survival. On this earth, we all have a specific purpose and we need each other. Thank you!

(If I did this lesson, I would have some kind of stuffed animal or prop that is a bat to talk to the class. Sometimes students are more motivated in hearing facts and information this way rather than just a dry lecture. I actually found a pattern to knit a bat for this kind of lesson: Boo the Bat and Flippy the Bat. It would be a great lesson to use in October.)

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: Little Brown Bat by Gare and Kitty

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Master Naturalist Class Day 4 Part 2

For pictures, click HERE.

(This is part 2 of last week’s class. Check out yesterday’s post for Part 1)

037After lunch, Dr. Rob Bixler (PRT professor at Clemson University) met with us. He helped us learn how to be an effective interpreter.

Interpretation – make things clear.

We have a recreation and leisure activity which is more of an experience rather than a program.

We need to create wonder about every day nature.

Get kids out being observant.

Early times, nature was very important and part of the curriculum. It was the dominant aspect into the curriculum until the 1930s.

Then cultural decay began because it wasn’t being reinforced any more.

Rachel Carson – mother of the modern environmental movement.

Environmental issues and studies became more important than nature study.

Decline in membership of conservation organizations.

Fewer students interested in natural resource careers

Public programs – self selected; people choose to come to these.

Don’t think too scientifically. Figure out ways to connect science to history or culture or pop culture or humanities.

Bring in special people.

Look for humor.

Use poems or music lyrics.

Sensory analysis is important (hearing, smell, touch, see – don’t use taste with young children)

Demonstrations are memorable


Look at other cultures.

Go to a local history society for more information.

Look for old, old books

Go to internet forums

Find famous people connected to your topic.

Interpretation does not mean interpret-torture!

People’s time is precious. They are taking a risk to come to a public program.

Vogel State Park has an “Ask a Naturalist” program

Encourage audience participation. They can identify with the information and feel good about adding to it.

Be early, clean and neat, start on time. Start off with general information, getting to know others for the first 5 minutes in case anyone is late.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

· Make sure they are comfortable. Make sure they know what to expect.

· Check safety and security. Make sure they are appropriately dressed for the activity.

· Develop a rapport.

· Recognize someone’s contribution.

Have a Theme statement.

The program does not need to be long and can be informal.

Mechanics of leading a hike

1. Walk past key thing and stop group, then walk back to it so you and key thing is in the middle.

2. End with conclusion; restate theme and subthemes.

3. Don’t end in view of the parking lot.

4. Make yourself available for informal interactions after program ends.

Questioning: Use open ended questions; only ask recall questions about information that you spoke about

Planning is essential! We were given a worksheet and we wrote down a topic and theme. Then we looked at different ways to promote the theme. These include alliteration, exclamation, metaphor/simile, limerick, rhyme, word picture. Don’t do more than one or it will be annoying.

Work with other people. Share ideas.

Look at YouTube videos: search for Piaget + conservation

Young children do not understand cause and effect; multiple relationships. They are very sensory oriented. They need to see, touch, hear and smell. They have trouble with zero.

If you can’t directly experience it, do not talk about it.

Young children do not understand how to ask questions; keep it concrete, simple, and sensory rich.

Group size – 1st through 3rd grade is usually best to have no more than 6 with a parent.

You need a finale! You want to get people back. You want them to be talking about this at home. Every program needs to end with a “what next.”

Sharing nature with other people is important to do!

Many of these techniques are ones that should be used in the classroom also. Planning is important because you need to make it worthwhile for people to invest their time in an activity that you do. It is important to engage the audience. If the audience is engaged, there will be less opportunity for misbehavior. Of course we want to tempt them so they want to learn more. I have attended many ranger led activities where I was wishing this person would have a “part 2” of their talk because they were so interesting. Whether you are in a classroom or leading an interpretive experience, the same should apply.

For our next class we will be at Jones Gap State Park and do some water activities. I’m really looking forward to this!

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Monday, September 13, 2010

Master Naturalist Class Day 4 Part 1

For pictures, click HERE.

I took so many notes for the last class that I am actually going to make this a two part blog post. This is part one and part two will be posted tomorrow. I didn’t want to overwhelm anyone with all this information so I felt it would be better to split it all instead of putting you to sleep. Hope you enjoy it.

014First we met at Stumphouse Tunnel where we met Mary Bunch, the wildlife biologist with DNR. She suggested that we take this picture and turn it upside down so we look like bats.

Here are some bat facts that I learned:

1. White Nose Syndrome (WNS) – could be killing the bats, yet it is not invasive, not getting in external organs.

2. Afflicted bats cannot break down chitin (exoskeleton of insects)

3. WNS optimal growth 5°C - 10°C; marginal growth 15°C, and upper growth 20°C

4. Bats need 3°C-14°C

5. Southern bats live longer because they have shorter hibernation, warmer temperatures, more insects

6. Little brown bat – mountains are the southern most range for these

7. Extinction of little brown bat due to WNS in 16 years

8. Disease is spreading faster than research can happen.

9. Predominant species in Piedmont: Tricolored bats, big brown bat, Evening bats, free tailed bats (found in artificial structures in SC)

10. First 3 species in list given are not colonial cavity roosters

11. Bats swarm

12. In winter, tree bats are in the leaf litter.

13. Red bats are common in the Piedmont, won’t use a bat box

14. WNS is easily detected in early spring but no treatment. Look for flying in the cold and daylight, and bats dying.

15. Lifespan of a bat is 10-15 years.

16. Bats are slow to reproduce and only have pups once a year. They don’t usually mate the first year.

17. Female mortality rate is higher.

18. Bats in Europe are not dying from WNS.

19. Gray bats are expected to become the first species to become extinct; already endangered; go in caves for breeding and wintering.

20. Bats are true hibernators. They can delay ovulation and implantation. Bats can delay pregnancy.

21. No fruit eating bats in SC; SC bats only eat insects.

22. Big brown bats are great for eating agricultural pests.

23. Predators of bats include snakes, owls, bluejays

24. Check out website of Bat Conservation International

25. Recommended Book: Rocky Road to Nowhere (about the Stumphouse Tunnel)

Next Bill Dillard came to talk to us about Stumphouse Tunnel and the history of it. He was in the first master naturalist class.

Bill was the descendent of William Welch who was a contractor/engineer of Stumphouse Tunnel.

Prior to the Civil War, South Carolina was the wealthiest state in the nation. The railroad made a huge impact on the economy.

The tunnel never was finished.

I know that students in the classroom would really enjoy learning about bats. Students of all ages are fascinated by them. I think having a speaker like we did would really help bring this topic to life in a classroom and being able to visit their habitat makes it even more real. Of course, no one can guarantee that you would find any bats because it wasn’t our lucky day. We didn’t get to see any this time because it wasn’t cold enough for the bats to see shelter in the tunnel.

(Please check back tomorrow for Part 2 of my notes)

crossposted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Thursday, September 09, 2010

From The Salamander’s Point of View

(Today is a guest post by the Salamander we saw at Kings Creek Falls. Hope you enjoy it!)

salamander Hey, what are all these people doing here? Where did they come from? I was having a great day just hanging out here in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall and all of a sudden this humongous group appears out of nowhere. Gee, it is fun to watch them cross that log! Maybe I will get to see someone fall in the water.

I see a group over on the side looking at the rocks. Hi there! That’s my friend Sammy the Snail that you are looking at. He likes when things are wet. I hope no one picks him up because he gets really scared when people do that. I bet he thought no one would come here so it would be safe to explore that rock.

That ranger over there is saying this is a spray cliff community. I didn’t know my subdivision had a name. Now I can tell people where to come visit me! Oh wait, that isn’t the name of my subdivision. I think that is the name of the type of place where I live; like some people live in the desert and some live in the mountains. I live in a spray cliff community! It sounds pretty impressive and I can’t wait to tell my friends.

I love where I live. There is plenty of cool running water. I also have lots of cool places to hide. There are different sizes of rocks and logs to hide under. I have to stay hidden so I don’t get eaten by all those things that think I’m a tasty morsel for dinner.

I peeked out at one time and these people were looking at the rocks right near me. One lady said that the rock they were looking at was feldspar with mica in it. Wow, I can’t wait to tell my friends what I know. They will think I’m so smart! I wonder if there is gold around me. Well, it wouldn’t matter because I couldn’t get rich from it and it would only bring in tons of people who would disturb my home. They would probably want to develop the area and really mess up the neighborhood.

There is another group over there looking at all the flowers. They like the alumroot, hemlock, and lobelia. I love when the flowers bloom around my home because I feel like I live in a fairyland. My favorite is the Joe Pye Weed because my friends the butterflies come to visit when it is blooming. Usually when they show up, we have a big party.

Whoa. Now this guy just put me in this plastic box! At least he put some water in it so I don’t get all dried out. Hey lady, be careful how you hold this box! Did you know I can see up your nose when you get this close. Man, you have big eyes!

No, I’m not the Geico gecko. I am a salamander! I'm a northern dusky salamander to be exact! (That isn't a picture of me but I thought it looked better than I do. I mean, haven't you ever wanted to use a picture of Julia Roberts or Brad Pitt instead of yourself?) I hate when people get me confused with that gecko though and think I’m in those stupid TV ads. Now, of course, I wouldn’t mind the perks and prestige so if you gave me an offer, I’d be glad to talk with you about it.

Well, after they passed me around and looked at me, that ranger guy decided to put me back in the water. What a relief! I was so afraid that someone would decide that they needed to take me home. I really didn’t want to relocate at this time and especially since no one had consulted me. I think I need to do a better job of hiding so this doesn’t happen to me again. Next time I might not be so lucky!

Well, it is time for me to go find my friends and share this all with them. They won’t believe the adventure that I had today!

(I had to write this post since my classmates and I had discussed what the salamander’s point of view would be. I thought it would be a great exercise in writing. I also think this would be a great writing exercise for our students. What if they wrote a conversation from the perspective of a tennis shoe, or a laptop, or their book bag, or their bathroom mirror? Or even better, let the students come up with an idea. This was just a thought for motivating writing skills. I think the students would like doing this because I know I did! What do you think?)

crossposted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'Red Eft, P6020048' by: Anita

Monday, September 06, 2010

Master Naturalist Class Day 3

For pictures, click here.

For this class, we met at the Andrew Pickens Ranger Station near Stumphouse Tunnel and then moved on to Burrell’s Ford.

We joined Amy, Vic, and Dan Rankin (from DNR) to learn more about brook trout. They (the trout, not Amy, Vic, and Dan) usually live about three years and their eggs need cold, running water to survive. Rainbow and Brown trout are non native fish that have taken over the Brook trout habitat. Dan talked about the different things that have been done to increase the brook trout population and lower the rainbow and brown trout population such as using a piscitoxin (not sure about the spelling) that only kills fish and nothing else. The toxin they used was actually an antibiotic that is dangerous to handle due to its high concentration and has to be diluted. 026Then the three of them entered Kings Creek to gather some trout for us to examine. It was fascinating to see how they used this shock system to momentarily shock the fish so they could net them and get them into a bucket of water. They used about 700 volts and4-6 amps of electricity from a 30 something pound pack that Vic wore on his back. It sounded harsh but they say the fish was not hurt. There were different sized brook trout so we could see what they looked at different ages. We also learned how to tell a male from a female during the spawning season. The males have more color (more red) and their jaws are bigger. When it is not spawning season, it is harder to tell the difference.

After this, we headed down the road for our hike to Kings Creek Falls and beyond. Along the hike we saw lots of flora and fauna. Along the way, Ranger Tim Lee stopped to explain some special things we were seeing. About noon we stopped for lunch along the creek. When we arrived at the falls we explored the spray cliff community on our own and then Ranger Tim explained the many things we observed

Here are some of the things that Tim pointed out:

Lady Ferns had hairy stems that were sometimes reddish.

New York Ferns were tapered at both ends. (imagine New Yorkers who burn the candle at both ends)

Pink Lady Slipper – found in an area with a lot of pines, veins are parallel on the leaves, dependent on fungi, almost impossible to transplant.

SC has 53 species of wild orchids and has specific fungi associated with each. That is why it is hard to transplant them.

Huckleberry – low growing shrub; also known as bearberry, doeberry, buckberry

Trees – on woody stem

Shrubs – multiple woody stems

Wildflowers – fleshy stems

Basal – low to the ground

Rhododendron likes moist ground, lower light while Mountain Laurel likes drier ground

Trailing Arbutus – epigaea repens; found on edge of cut slopes or trails, likes mineral soil

Repens = creeping

Soil is affected by rocks; limestone affects soil pH

Granitic gneiss is fairly neutral

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain – native orchid, multiple flowers and seeds, seed pod dries out and rattles

SC state butterfly is the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

When talking to a group: face into the sunlight so the group doesn’t have to; keep main attraction to your back

Kings Creek Falls - Spray Cliff Community – even though it was in full sunlight, the spray keeps it cool

5 species of tropical fern are found in spray cliff communities

Observed at the waterfall:

· Alumroot looks like foam flower but likes it wet

· Hemlock looks like Queen Anne’s Lace

· Lobelia

· Joe Pye Weed

· Goldenrod

· Jewelweed

· Salamander

· Snail

Liverwort – loves to grow near creeks, non vascular

Mosses are non vascular also

Indian Cucumber – root is cucumber like


Creeping moss (repens) grows horizontally on tree because of moisture

Doghobble (Leucothoe fontanesiana) – likes to grow along the edge of creek (riparian zone); fetterbush is found in higher elevations and is deciduous; produces multiple white flowers and butterflies love it.

Great Blue Heron


Ground Cedar (lycopodium) – spores are highly flammable


· Waterfall Hikes of Upstate SC by Thomas King

· Bringing Nature Home by Douglas Tallamy

Again, it was another awesome class! All of the people in the class are great to be around and easy to get along with which helps make the class enjoyable. The teachers are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about their subject. So far, I keep thinking that the next class can’t get much better than the previous class and each time, I’m surprised. I think that the topics are different, and that we are learning in a real life situation which makes it more interesting and relevant. Next week we will go into a cave and have a new adventure!

crossposted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).