Monday, September 29, 2008

"Astonishing" news: bears are in NJ

I'll pretty much watch any show that has a live bear as a central story. I got sucked into a show that was trying to figure out if some ancient giant bear had survived in Alaska by breeding with grizzly bears. A monster bear if you wish. Cue the montages of random hunters who had killed strange bears and their trophy photos. There's the polar/grizzly bear hybrid and the polar bear way inland. They only hang on the coast so it was strange to see a bear inland...kind of like Lost. Then my favorite part was "astonishing" footage of a mother black bear and her three cubs shot in a New Jersey backyard. Of course, there were interviews with the concerned mother who was living in a brand new house who had bears walk through her backyard. Funny thing. If you build a house in bear country, you will have bears around. It's not their problem when they are enticed by your garbage or bbq. They are just like us. If there's an easy option they will take it. But somehow these bears are labelled as a threat. Something must be done...i.e. hunt them down. Then there's the footage of a NJ hunter stalking with a bow and arrow through his backyard woods. They spot a bear in the distance in the woods and the hunter goes "If it looks over here, be very still and quiet." Why? Are you afraid it might see you and attack? That's unlikely. Are you concerned it might run away? Of course, the bears runs off once it spots them.

What I do know is that black bears are about to become a large problem in NJ. Their population is exploding. It should be mandatory that residents in bear country have bear proof garbage containers. People say a yearly bear hunt will solve the problem. The real problem is that the bear hunt only takes place in remote woodlands where the bears are living lives relatively untouched by people. It's the problem bears that live in developed areas that feast on garbage that should be the target of any solution. Maybe I'm foolish, but I actually want to live in the heart of bear country. Maybe it's the grass is always greener on the other side, but it'd be the closest thing I'd get to living in real nature.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Signs of autumn

Field work has mostly been small uninteresting sites. So I got out early and ran over to check out the swamp where I released Cashew. The most noticeable difference was the overwhelming darkness at 5 pm. No turtles were out in the area I released Cashew and I only saw a handful of turtles at turtle mecca since some sun was able to penetrate the large open area. On the way back to my car, I was cornered by an old man who was determined to talk my ear off. We...rather HE discussed....Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Route 17 in CA, Jersey barriers, the people who invented Jersey barriers and the entire backstory, speeding and him yelling at speeders, California's central valley, Native Americans, Mexicans claim to CA, AZ, and NM, President Polk, Franciscans, how these five topics are related (I don't understand), his age, him being retired, him being in college 60 years ago, etc. I was powerless to escape since I was cornered against the info shack. I managed to escape when his wife left him the dust. She had been puttering around the area I had released Cashew and was heading towards turtle mecca. I guess she gets fed up with his endless talk. I rushed to my car and started the engine just in time to see him walk halfway back to my initial cornered spot. I was worried he was coming back for round 2.

The leaves are just barely starting to change colors. I did see that the winterberries are out. It's the pics on here. Winterberry is one of my enemy shrubs since I have a hard time identifying it without the berries. I did prevail once this summer but only after I had exhausted my mental database of all possible shrub candidates. Luckily the list was short that day and I feel like I might be getting a better handle on identifying it sans berries.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Something I don't need

My Rav4 needs new tires. I've been doing my crazy research to pick the best tires ever. Since the Rav4 is not a real off-road SUV, the tire makers try to pigeonhole me into buying regular car tires. I want something that can handle some off-road, does well on highway, and is great in the snow. In other words, I want it all. I've narrowed the choices down and in my research I stumbled upon an aromatic tire!
"KUMHO Tire USA, announces the introduction of the world’s first fragrance automotive tire, the ECSTA DX. The project is the “fruition” of more than a year’s worth of research and development to deliver an alluring aroma tire that replaces the normal “black rubber” smell with heat-resistant oils in the scent of lavender, and in later versions, neroli (orange) or jasmine.
The tire is targeted at female consumers who drive such sedans as the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Subaru Outback, Chrysler Sebring and Ford Taurus."
I hate hate hate female targeted marketing. Why not make them in pink and lavender colors? Besides who cares if their tires are lavender scented. I certainly don't get out of my car to smell my tires....ever unless there's some sort of problem. Let me be the first to pose new aromatic aromatic cell phone or aromatic pets. I'm thinking white house cats could be vanilla scented and black cats of course chocolate or black licorice. Then calico cats would be of course neopolitan scented with vanilla, strawberry, and choco scents.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A new plant enemy

I had an urban site to check out for wetlands. Luckily I had a co-worker because urban sites can be crazy. I swear I rather have a zillion acre Sussex-tucky site with 20 bears than an urban site any day. You have garbage, high body/sketchy folks/homeless person potential, and super disturbed areas. The soils typically make no sense so you have to rely on other senses. Pretty quick we ran into a new invasive plant that will probably take over most of the state. It's call Devil's tearthumb or mile-a-minute. Pretty ominious names that reveal its evil nature! It has barbs which tear into you. I just pulled out a splinter in my thumb. The plant will live in any condition. It's happy in the woods oIt was creep/crawl/drape itself over anything in its way. It's so invasive that it invades monocultures of other invasive plants. Here it is draping itself on trees ala spanish moss. At some point the devil's tearthumb will overwhelm the trees and that'll be the end of the woods.

Here it is forming a mat over other shrubs and plants.

Here's tall sunflower, which was a new find for us. It was one of the only pleasant plants at the site.

Here's a more pleasant invasive plant called porcelain berry, but the devil's tearthumb has draped itself over it. At least the berries look like those easter malt balls.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Is that it?

Tropical storm Hanna hit NJ yesterday. There had been a big hype about it. Wind gusts were predicted up to 60 mph with a ton of rain. The supermarket was bustling in the afternoon and I was all geared up for some real stormy action. I grouped all my plants on my in numbers after all. I folded up the deck chairs and battened down the hatches. It started lightly raining in the afternoon and picked up significant strength by late afternoon during my drive to pick up the bf. I tentatively headed towards the always flooded Bound Brook and the almost always flooded train underpass. The underpass was just starting to flood and the right lane of the road following that was getting flooded. I learned that it's not good to blaze through flooded roads even with a suv. The large wings of the water overwhelmed the windshield and wipers. I couldn't see anything for at least 5 seconds and crossed my fingers that my still moving vehicle wasn't headed into oncoming traffic. I also made a mental note to get those new tires asap since mine are baldish.

The drive back on the highway was less precarious but we saw numerous accidents. I guess a lot of people just had to check out the vegetated median the hard way. The middle lane proved to be the best bet with the least flooding and just far enough away from the water wings caused by the 18-wheelers of opposing traffic.

The worst of the storm was supposed to hit overnight but by 9 pm almost all was quiet. Were we in the eye of the storm or perhaps a band had just passed? Nope. The storm was over and by 10 pm it wasn't raining anywhere in NJ.

The next morning we headed to the swamp to see how the critters were enjoying the new water following parched conditions. Almost immediately we heard the telltale sound of an another frog being eaten by a water snake. Not again!!!! We just saw that last weekend. But the rest of the critters were happily cruising around in the water where it just been a mud pool a week ago. The flowing duckweed proved to be mesmorizing in the ever changing swirls.

Even the squirrels were enjoying the bounties of the storm. The funny thing is that if you had asked if it had rained the day before, I probably would have said No. The ground had been so dry that it immediately soaked up the inches of new rain.
The tickseed sunflowers are out in full bloom all along the roads.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Please direct the 'cane over here please!

Not sure if the local peeps have noticed, but we need rain like something fierce. Leaves are changing color, wilting, and falling over and it's not fall yet. The soil is powder, which makes work real hard. Plus summer has been back with a vengence. It's hot and humid. I could see people's breaths this morning as they talked and it's not because it's very cold out.

Late summer flowers are out. Here's white wood aster, which has been more increasingly rare.

Here's some goldenrod. It's not ragweed contrary to my mother says. She singlehandedly removed all goldenrod from their yard and surrounding area, because my mother was convinced it was some sort of allergy weed. It's not! Poor goldenrod!