Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Goodbye Honeysuckle

I planned to spend the majority of my day in the office today, finishing up some projects that I have been trying to get to.  I found out before I left home this morning, that someone from the District office was available to help me remove some exotic plants.  I didn't mind the change of plans.  When I left my house, my yard was already pretty lively.  There were Squirrels and birds everywhere.  There were even a few Deer.  The Deer pictured below and the Robin in the foreground just watched while I got into my truck and pulled away. 

I opened the park and got my paperwork done so that I would be ready to head out and kill plants when  the woman from the district office arrived.  When the paperwork was done, I headed out to open up the visitor center.   As I got close to the building, I was startled by a Red-shouldered Hawk that was perched right above me.  I took a couple of photos, but the lighting was terrible as it was still a little dark and cloudy early this morning.  Little did I know at the time, there would be more to see.  The Hawk in front of me started shrieking.  Then another Hawk behind me started calling.  They bellowed back and forth and then the Hawk in front of me took flight.  She picked up a claw full of Spanish Moss and landed on another branch.  I looked back at the other Hawk and saw him flying over as well.  I recognized that Hawk as one that has been around as long as I have been at Troy.  It has a distinctive notch missing from a section of his wing.  He was dubbed 'Ole V-wing' years ago.  V-wing landed on the same branch as the Hawk with Moss in her talon.  The two shared a moment together and then they parted ways, with the one still carrying the Spanish Moss.  I'm sure she left to work on a nest.  The Hawks were very noisy all day.  I don't know if they were talking to each other or defending their territory from others.

When my coworker for the day arrived, she gave me a much-needed refresher on the different herbicides that we have, their best uses, and the mixing of the different chemicals.  Our target for the day was Japanese Honeysuckle.  I have mentioned it once before on the blog when I noticed its leaves curling in the freezing weather.  The sneaky Honeysuckle vines had woven themselves densely through a large patch near the restrooms.

The herbicide that we used today is not harmful to people, fish, or wildlife, but it effectively kills leafy plants.  We mixed the herbicide with a surfactant that spreads the chemicals across and into the leaves the same way that soap helps to clean your hands.  Another additive was a blue dye that helped us see what had been sprayed and what we still had to do.  The blue color was mostly gone when the chemical dried.  While we were spraying the vines, we found a few that were very large.  They were so large that the herbicide we were using would not have been very effective.  We returned later to cut the large vines and spray the stump directly with a stronger chemical that will work into its woody stem.  Within the next month, all of the leaves that were sprayed will start to dye.  I will have to go back again in a month or two to retreat the more resistant spots or any new growth.  It will be a long time before the Honeysuckle is completely gone from the park, but with each treatment, more native plants will be able to thrive.

The exotic plant treatment took up the majority of my day.  I did do some e-mailing and made a little progress on the project that I WILL finish tomorrow.  I headed home with a bit of a sinus headache from all of the tree pollen.  I'm still glad that spring is coming.

No comments: