Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Groundhog Day

Well, I didn't see any groundhogs, but I did find some signs of spring!  Today was a much more fun and productive day than yesterday, just what I was hoping for.  It started out rainy, but the forecast told me that the weather would improve and it did.
I started my day with a drive through the park.  I opened the gate and put up the flags in the rain.  Its not fun to put the flags up in the rain.  You have to look up to see what you are doing and the raindrops get in your eyes.  The flags cling to the wet pole and its like trying to put on wet jeans.  I knew that I would forget about it if I waited until it stopped raining though, I just got it done.  When I got to the office, I checked the rain gauge and then settled in to finish the paperwork that I didn't complete yesterday.  The paperwork didn't take too long.  I did the daily paperwork and completed my time sheet first.  Then, I finalized all our our rain, water level, water condition, and wildlife sighting reports and sent them along to park biologists along with an update and photos of our erosion areas.
When the paperwork was done, I rewarded myself with a walk around the park.  The water is still rising, but its not visibly much different from yesterday.  We have been in the range of 23 feet for three days now.  I think we will probably break into 24 feet overnight, but at least it isn't a foot a day or more.  Inches are much easier to cope with.

As I walked, I picked up a few branches and threw them into the woods.  A bright spot of color caught my eye.  I found a log with lots of new fungus growth on it.  I took several photos of it, here is my favorite.

When I walked around to the spring side of the park, I was wondering about our Red-bud Trees.  I noticed some Red-buds in bloom in a few places south of the park and I thought I might be able to find some signs of life on our trees.  At first glance, they were still just bare twigs.  I took some photos of the water and then noticed a much larger Red-bud than the ones that I was looking at.  It had some lovely pink fluffs of color!  The flowers bloom in the spring and are usually pollinated by bees.  The flowers make fruit which resemble pea pods and are mature in the fall.  Somewhere in between, fat, little, heart-shaped leaves will emerge.


I took a closer look at the Red-buds that I checked first.  On my second look, I found that the buds were JUST starting to open.  I was more impressed by the water droplets clinging to the branches and the tiniest leaf that must have been left over from last year.

After my walk, I headed back inside to work on another project that I have been struggling with for a while.  I replaced the thermostat in the office.  You may remember that I had purchased a new thermostat, did a lot of research to figure out which wires went where, found out that I had the wrong type of thermostat, returned the thermostat and bought a new one.  I was expecting today's installation to go very smoothly, but I did still have to do a bit more reading to double check a few of the connections.  The majority of my time spent on this project was going through the detailed programming process.  I was really getting impatient with it, but I think I have it set up so that we won't ever have to touch it again aside from switching to cool in the summer time (and I think I can even program it to do that itself too).  Here's a little visual of the wire spaghetti that I worked with today.

With my paperwork and project out of the way, I had some lunch and then got to the fun part of the day.  I went kayaking!  It wasn't just for fun, I had somethings that I wanted to accomplish... but it was fun.  The last flood had dropped some giant logs in bad spots.  One had held a tree down in an unfortunate way.  I have been eying them since the last flood and this was my opportunity to try to get them out of the spring area all together.  I also wanted to pick up some garbage and secure some of our property.  I went out to the dock first to get a good photo of it in all of its silliness.  When the floating dock gets high enough for the ramp to become useless, we jokingly call it the Mullet Launcher.

As I drifted into position between a tree and one of the logs I wanted to move, I looked up and spotted this giant spider.  I believe it is a fishing spider and it was about the size of palm of my hand.  While I got my camera out, it was deciding what to do about my sudden presence.  It started to dart off, and then froze.  It really blends in well with the tree.  Maybe it thought I couldn't see it.  I snapped a few photos and then got to work.

I had to wedge my kayak into tree branches or next to trees in order to have leverage to push the giant logs out into the open water.  Once they started to drift, I had to get a good paddling start and push them one direction or another to steer them around the buoys and out to the river.  The biggest of the two gave me a very hard time, but I won in the end!

While I was out on the water, I decided to harvest our Bobber Trees.  Bobber Trees only grow near good fishing spots.  They have this funny Styrofoam or sometimes plastic fruit that has fishing line and hooks attached to it.  I collected at least five bobbers and left them for my coworkers who are avid fishermen.

I picked up a lot of other trash, but there will be so much more when the water goes down.  I just couldn't get to all of it.  I pulled out a whole plastic lawn chair from the top of a tree in the spring.  I picked up a few cans and plastic bottles.  I got bit by one fire ant as well.  What are fire ants doing on the water, you ask?  Even floods can't kill fire ants.  They congregate together and can float on the water until they reach something to hold on to.  The whole colony will hang onto a plant stalk for as long as they need to. The winged individuals are capable of flying and reproducing.  If need be, they can just zoom off to find dry land and start a new colony.

When I was done with my boating adventure, I headed back, unloaded all of my garbage and put away the kayak.  I was a little soggy from all of the water that made it in from my activity.  I was ready to call it a day.


Laura said...

Happy Birthday Ranger Amy! (from a wildlifer and knitter friend of Lorena) - Laura

pickled purls said...

Happy Birthday Amy!!! Hope you have a perfect Ranger Amy day!

stephanie said...

Have a Happy Birthday!

Anonymous said...

happy birthday. the photos are beautiful, even the creepy ones; signs of spring i wouldn't look that closely for...


Ranger Amy said...

Thanks everyone!! It was a good day.