29 de marzo de 2019

Field Marks for Identifying Wild Irises in a Louisiana Swamp

There aren't many good visual guides pointing out the differences between Southern Blue Flag (Iris virginica) and Giant Blue Iris (I. giganticaerulea). I've seen lots of irises in the South misidentified to one or the other recently. Because of that, I have spent some time the last few weeks cycling through iNaturalist observations to pick out the differences between the two species. First I started with research grade observations then moved onto needs ID observations. Once I felt comfortable with the differences I'd noticed, I started identifying observations. Today, that practice paid off when I stumbled on some Southern Blue Flag while measuring and recording Giant Blue Iris. I'm not a botanist, so I will try to avoid jargon that I'm a little fuzzy on.

Here are a few reliable field marks of Southern Blue Flag that help differentiate it from Giant Blue Iris:

  1. Prominent veins on the underside of the sepals (falls), especially around the base. This is best seen in photos from the side of the flower (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21745551) Southern Blue Flag (Iris virginica) Giant Blue Flag (Iris giganticaerulea)
  2. Multiple flowers originating from the same point at the top of the stem (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21745508). Southern Blue Flag (Iris virginica) flowers
  3. Leaves have a slight midrib (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21745542). Southern Blue Flag (Iris virginica) flowers

The Giant Blue Iris (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21745584) has none of those features. The base of the sepals is covered by a green layer, so there aren't any veins worth mentioning. Flowers occur singly along the stalk with two usually at the top. There are several leaves along the stalk as well while Iris virginica stalks are usually pretty bare. Leaves are smooth with no midrib. Giant Blue Iris also tend to be taller with plain green stems whereas the Southern Blue Flag typically were shorter and their stems had a slight purple-ish coloration. This may be more of a local variation and heights are variable depending on nutrients, so I wouldn't consider those good field marks like the three already mentioned.

Anotado en 29 de marzo de 2019 a las 08:37 PM por ilouque ilouque | 4 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

18 de marzo de 2019

New Wild Louisiana Iris Citizen Science Project

Recently, through the Southwest Louisiana Master Naturalists board meeting, I found out about the Greater New Orleans Iris Society's citizen science project to help preserve the Louisiana iris. They're asking everyone look for blooming Louisiana irises this spring. Using the Ramblr app, take photos and measurements, and send them the info. All the information about the project's protocol is on their web page. The Greater New Orleans Iris Society does great work and has been really helpful in my understanding of Louisiana irises. They even donated a bunch of Iris giganticaerulea and I. fulva rhizomes to plant at Tuten Park in Lake Charles, LA. I'm going to support their citizen science program this year by going out to the usual iris locations to get some measurements, coordinates, and photos for their map.

In doing a little background research on Louisiana irises for an upcoming presentation, I realized that there isn't a single search term for Louisiana iris for iNaturalist. So, I created a project that compiles all observations of non-cultivated Louisiana irises in one place. The wild irises are starting to bloom, so photos are already rolling into the project. Check out the new Wild Louisiana Iris Project, join it to be notified of any Louisiana iris related news, and post your Louisiana iris observations!

Anotado en 18 de marzo de 2019 a las 02:11 PM por ilouque ilouque | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

26 de noviembre de 2018

Join the Southwest Louisiana Master Naturalists this Spring!

I'm the president of the Southwest Louisiana Master Naturalists, so this holiday season is the time I spread the word about the upcoming 4th annual Southwest Louisiana Master Naturalist Program! The course will consist of 12 six hour workshops focused on different taxa, SWLA habitats, and naturalist skills. Most workshops will take place in the Lake Charles area and are pretty much 50/50 lecture/field. The course is open to anyone 18 years or older who's interested in learning about nature. Apply today!

So far, Southwest Louisiana Master Naturalists have contributed over 7,000 observations of almost 2,000 species to iNaturalist and we're continuing to grow in number and impact!

I've tagged the prominent iNat observers in SWLA. Please consider joining us for the course and let your friends know about us! I hear the course makes a great holiday gift that keeps giving!

@feistyone @kgardner @robjamax @paspalum1 @heteromyid @barbara32 @bradmoon @lifeagogo @pmpalmer @bearly33 @mjwalrus @bjkauffman @henicorhina @thehaplesshiker @biggi24 @carrie37 @terrapinjoe @c-merritt @jciv @hannahburnett @clayardoin @skinne1

Anotado en 26 de noviembre de 2018 a las 04:39 PM por ilouque ilouque | 14 comentarios | Deja un comentario

24 de agosto de 2018

Which City in Louisiana Can Find the Most Nature?

Last year, the Southwest Louisiana Master Naturalists organized Louisiana's first City Nature Challenge. We held our own against much larger cities, and we had a blast doing it! It was a little lonely being the only city in Louisiana participating in the challenge though!

We'll participate in the CNC again in 2019, but this year we'd like to find out which Louisiana city can find the most nature! If you'd like to help organize your city's effort, sign up for an upcoming conference call with the City Nature Challenge organizers. Learn more.

Anyone can organize a City Nature Challenge through your connections in your area regardless of institutions/organizations. I'm tagging the top iNat observers in LA and some select ones in various cities that I know. Feel free to tag others you think might be interested!

@royaltyler @matthewherron @zoology123 @cypseloides @kgardner @amberenergy @henicorhina @jameswbeck @napoleon1799 @c-merritt @kenbosso @paspalum1 @lifeagogo @terrapinjoe @robjamax @feistyone @bjkauffman @bearly33 @eustatic1 @rockybranch @charlespaxton @reallifeecology @heteromyid @audubon23 @thehaplesshiker @humbleearthgarden @michapetty @barbara32 @pmpalmer

Anotado en 24 de agosto de 2018 a las 01:58 PM por ilouque ilouque | 6 comentarios | Deja un comentario

09 de abril de 2018

Louisiana Master Naturalist Rendezvous 2018

I just got back from Rendezvous. It got way to cold for April, but otherwise the speakers gave a bunch of great talks and the Sunday nature hike was exceptional! We hiked around the pond, over the field, and through the woods finding the neat local species along the way. My personal highlights were the Rough Green Snake (probably just my 3rd ever, with my second at Rendezvous 2017 at Chicot), the Dwarf Salamander that Bob found in a log, my lifer Calico Pennants and Blue Corporals, tons of Dwarf Sundews, and a Swallow-tailed Kite that I saw in Oakdale on my drive home. Species seen/heard but not recorded in iNat include Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and Northern Cardinal.

Anotado en 09 de abril de 2018 a las 12:06 AM por ilouque ilouque | 62 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

24 de enero de 2018

Tuten Park's Bird Feeding Station Notes

Since the deep cold a few weeks ago, I've been reliably filling the bird feeding station at Tuten Park with great results. A student group covered pine cones in lard and bird seed. They hung some of the cones around the park and took some home. I keep a hopper feeder filled with black oil sunflower seeds and a thistle sock filled with nyger seed. Occasionally, I throw 2 or 3 cups of standard wild bird seed on the ground around the feeding station. Since I noticed a Ruby-crowned Kinglet eating the lard on the nearest pinecone, I started smearing "Bird Bark" around the feeding station as well.

Bird Butter
David Booth's Bird Bark

Within days, American Goldfinches discovered the feeders. Mourning Doves weren't far behind. I even saw my first of the season Pine Warbler today and an Eastern Phoebe ate some Bird Bark! So far my list of observed bird bark eaters is three (Yellow-rumped Warbler, Eastern Phoebe, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet), but I bet the Pine Warblers will be seen eating it shortly. Birds seen at the other feeders include American Goldfinches, Northern Cardinal, Mourning Dove, White-winged Dove, and Carolina Chickadee. Naturally, other birds come in closer when a group of birds are feeding such as American Robins and Carolina Wrens.

Hopefully, as I consistently feed the birds here, I'll start to record greater diversity. In the past I've seen White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos under the feeders.

Anotado en 24 de enero de 2018 a las 09:51 PM por ilouque ilouque | 6 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

13 de noviembre de 2017

Prairie Plant Rescue

Yesterday, the Southwest Louisiana Master Naturalists undertook their first native plant rescue. We filled the bed of a pickup truck with native plants. They were all dug from a property that will be developed into a road behind A.A. Nelson Elementary School for dropping off and picking up students. Several species such as little bluestem, goldenrods, asters, and blue mistflower were particularly abundant. The species transplanted include little bluestem, muhly grass, Eastern gamagrass, several goldenrods, Physostegia, asters, blue mistflower, giant blue sage, and rosinweed.

There will be another rescue day in the near future for the area south of the Lake Street Post Office. I've already secured permission to dig there. From what I've seen, there's greater diversity and more giant blue sage (both blue and white colored flowers) there. This site is less urgent as there isn't imminent development planned.

Anotado en 13 de noviembre de 2017 a las 03:08 PM por ilouque ilouque | 8 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

22 de junio de 2017

Post-Tropical Storm Cindy "Birding"

I was off of work today due to the tropical storm, so I decided to go to one of our local parks that overlooks some water to see if I could find a weird tern or Magnificent Frigatebird. I arrived at Prien Lake Park around 1 pm and winds were strong out of the west/southwest, tossing the waves in the ship channel. After some looking around, I didn't see any weird ocean birds are much of anything fighting the wind. I did see a Purple Martin, some Barn Swallows, Laughing Gulls, and a Brown Pelican over the water. You can find my eBird checklist for the day here.

I did notice lots of dragonflies hunkering down on the east side of the peninsula out of the wind. I photographed what I thought were Black Saddlebags, but turned out to be Marl Pennants. Then a large Four-spotted Pennant appeared flying over the lake and landed near one of the Marl Pennants. These were the only two species I saw on the peninsula. Later as I walked back to my truck, there were loads of dragonflies hunkering down in the crepe myrtle trees and irises in the flower beds. I photographed the ones I could for iNaturalist (Needham's Skimmer, Eastern Pondhawk, Blue Dasher).

Anotado en 22 de junio de 2017 a las 10:04 PM por ilouque ilouque | 9 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario