04-04-14 Field Note

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04-04-14 Field Note

April 4, 2014

Jeff Clarke's Field Note chronicles the begining of field and tick season, plus signs of spring.

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04-04-14 Field Note

The field crew started the 2014 season with the removal of large piles of tumble mustard and koshia that gathered in the base of draws and along fence lines. These piles look ugly and prevent herbicide from killing new weeds. They also inhibit soil contact of broadcasted seeds.

To remove the piles, we set them ablaze!

The extreme overland flow event in early March washed out the bottom of most draws and left large collections of bare soil everywhere. The past two weeks, the crew spread and raked seed into every bare patch they could find. We hope that the native seed will establish before invasive seeds do. We also spread seed on all unstable southfacing slopes.

Several exclosures and trees washed out due to the spring burst. We work to clean and fix them.

We also work to fix all the exclosures mangled by the large winter ungulate herds.

The crew started a massive basin wild rye transplanting project. We will fill the bottoms of several draws with this native. Once established, the wild rye should prevent further erosion and provide additional cover for critters.

A pair of bald eagles appear to be incubating eggs in their new nest in the Clubhouse Floodplain. We have restricted access to the floodplain until the eaglets fledge.

Early buttercups bloom in the floodplain this week.

I found several piles of elk scat that contained undigested corn kernels; this pile more than three miles from the corn field! I wonder if we will see random stalks of corn emerge all over the ranch this year?

I watched this Clark’s Nutcracker pull several seeds from a crack in a dead cottonwood branch. I bet it fed on cached ponderosa pine seeds from last fall.

Warm spring temperatures alert western thatching ants to get back to work. Ants labored to pile pieces of grass and pine needles all over this nest.

A couple weeks ago, temporary river channels flowed across the northern floodplain. By yesterday they had run dry. A second spring pulse should fill them again soon.

It’s tick season!

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