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Clark Wetland Stream Team Survey Print
Central Arkansas Master Naturalists
Written by George Lauster   

What a great day at the wetland last Sunday! At the Clark Wetland it wasn't too hot, with a gentle breeze, and there was lots to see. First up were three very demanding barn swallow chicks. They entertained all the kids that came through as they were easy to spot in their nest in the large pavilion. Monica Mabry, Sherry and Carlos Sanchez, and George Lauster split into teams to survey the rest of the wetland. The wetland plants around the upper pond have finally filled in after suffering through the drought. Nearby a baltimore oriole was singing from the large sycamore located halfway along the boardwalk. Sherry recalled there was an oriole nest located in the same tree in the past. Several red-winged blackbirds have set up territories about 20 yards from each other throughout the wetland. A pair of mourning doves were also present, perching on the boardwalk railing along the upper pond.

We spotted two dragonflies from the boardwalk. Blue Dashers, with blue abdomens, perched on the emergent plants every 3 yards. They also had set up territories for mating season. Any other dragonfly that entered their territory was quickly chased off. Eastern amberwing dragonflies added to the color. Using our D-nets, plenty of dragonfly aquatic larvae were found among the upper pond plants, as well as water boatman, water striders, lunged snails and other macroinvertebrates. Fewer were found in the river, perhaps due to the recent storm. We had help from several children and their families that passed by. Kids just love hunting for bugs.

Even after just a few visits we are becoming familiar with the neighborhood, which now include a new neighbor. Monica focused her binoculars on the old den where a groundhog had been spotted years ago. However someone new has moved in. A beautiful grey fox was peeking its head and shoulders out. Both George and Monica were able to observe the fox standing at the entrance to the den, by watching from the opposite boardwalk. It turned and went into the den when people approached along the nearby boardwalk. Could there be young foxes present? Bring your binoculars and camera next time you are downtown by the Clinton Library and take a look. The den is located at the end of the ridge that separates the wetland from the main river channel, at the end where the river water enters the wetland. Let George and the folks at the nature center know what you see.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 June 2013 08:20
 
CAMN Advanced Training Class is a Magical Hummingbird Experience Print
Central Arkansas Master Naturalists
Written by Joellen Beard   

On April 27, CAMNers traveled to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Foundation's Potlatch Conservation Education Center at Cook's Lake outside of Casscoe, Arkansas.  Cook's lake is about 80 miles East of Little Rock. Tana Beasley of AGFC is the only person trained and certified to band hummingbirds in Arkansas.  She demonstrated this very delicate procedure.  She showed us each step with three hummingbirds.  The tiny birds are caught in a cage surrounding a feeder and carefully placed in a mesh bag where most become remarkably calm. When it is time to band they are wrapped in a ladies' footie!  Hummingbird breastbones are so delicate that they must be held with the tips of your fingers, being extremely careful not to squeeze!  The birds are weighed and measured; age and gender are determined and recorded. When the process of banding is completed with magnifying glasses and homemade, specialized, tiny tools, they are released.  Each band has an alphabetical and numerical code which identifies the person banding and place where it was banded.  Three lucky participants held hummingbirds in the palm of their hands, feeling the heartbeat and then the hummingbird's sudden departure back into the Conservation area.  Ms. Beasley bands more than 1200 hummingbirds a year, helping to understand the flight patterns and instincts of this lovely, tiny creature.  We learned many facts about the hummingbirds, realizing that so much more is unknown.  Many thanks to Ms. Beasley and her team for sharing this important aspect of preservation and conservation.

Hummingbird Facts:

Ruby-throated hummingbirds (in Arkansas) migrate more than 2000 miles per year.  Many of them cross the Gulf of Mexico nonstop.  This is a distance of 550 miles.

Before migration hummingbirds develop three distinct layers of fat running horizontal on their bodies.

Hummingbirds take several baths a day!  Nectar is sticky.

They eat small spiders, aphids, and other small insects.  They use spider web to hold nests together.

They beat their wings 50 to 200 times per second in a figure 8 pattern and their tongues lap nectar as fast as 13 times per second.

Hummingbirds are the only birds hunted by an insect-the deadly preying mantis.  It will wait on a feeder, grab the hummingbird and then slit its throat.

Humming bird nectar should always be 1 part sugar to 4 parts water!

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 06:53
 
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