Summer at Duck Pond, White Memorial Foundation

Friday, September 27, 2013

Alien Invasion!

I see them every day...aliens hiding among us.  They blend in, making it difficult to pick them out, yet they strike with a fierce intensity. 

No, they're not the folks at White Memorial (contrary to popular belief), nor do they live in underwater cities on the planet of NabooThey look harmless, even pleasant, and many of us pass by them without giving it a second thought.

These embryophytic, photosynethetic marauders are altering our ecosystems as we have never seen before.  However, these aliens are now being exposed.

For the past few months, we have been collecting, pressing and preserving samples of invasive alien plants.  Barberry, Multiflora Rose, and Morrow's Honeysuckle have been taking over the understories of our forests since their introduction from foreign shores.  These species, however, are just the tip of the iceberg.  The State of Connecticut lists 96 species of invasive or potentially invasive plants in our area.  Some, like the Autumn Olive, are widespread and well-known.  Many others, such as the Rugosa Rose, have a limited distribution in the State. 

Morrow's Honeysuckle

Much to our surprise, we have already collected samples of 40% of the invasive species on this list.  There are at least five other species we know about on the property but haven't collected, and potentially several other invasives that we haven't yet documented on the property.  Water chestnut, for example, used to be found in Bantam Lake, but thanks to eradication efforts, we were unable to collect any samples of this invasive. 

Why are we going through the trouble of collecting all these samples?  These specimens will be sent to the University of Connecticut herbarium so other scientists can get a better picture of where these invasives are and how we can manage them.  Even though these species seem to pop up everywhere, we have surprisingly few records of invasives in Connecticut.  In fact, many of the specimens we do have were collected decades ago and do not necessarily reflect their distribution in Connecticut.

Below is a list of the invasive plant species found in Connecticut.  We have specimens of the species listed in plain font, but no specimens of those in bold.  You can also learn more about invasive species at White Memorial by visiting our Encyclopedia of Life page.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Forest Cover Types Included in Blog Map

Check out the map at the bottom of this weblog!  The vegetative cover types have been incorporated into the map.  Click on each cover type to observe other information, as well.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

White Memorial Hawk Watch Sets New Records on September 16, 2013

Several hawk species, mostly Broadwing Hawk (Buteo platypterus), migrated in a massive push on Monday 16 September 2013 through southern New England and the northern Mid-Atlantic states.  The conditions were just right for this event.  A cold front progressed through the area from the northwest bringing with it a steady northwest wind and a short break in the cloud cover.  The front also pushed out a blanket of clouds that were in the area in the early morning. The hawks were observed taking flight as soon as the cloud cover started to break up!  The clear sky lasted for only a few hours but it was long enough for the ground to heat up thereby creating thermals or up-welling pockets of hot air that the birds ride upward gaining altitude.  There was a steady stream of birds coalescing into kettles consisting of hundreds of birds.  New kettles were forming every 5 minutes in the sky.  Our counters for the day included James Fischer, Jared Franklin, and Kelly Lawlor.  They observed a total of 2608 birds for the day, which is a record number of birds in one day for the White Memorial Hawk Watch site.  Several other Hawk Watch sites observed similar conditions and it is presented to you below.  The following images show the hourly satellite imagery and progressing cold front.  The number of birds observed at each station is illustrated for each Hawk Watch.  You can see for yourself the massive wave of birds that moved through the area in just a few short hours!

10:00 a.m. EST  The clouds were just starting to break and birds took to the skies!

11:00 a.m. EST  The wind picked up speed due to the advancing cold front
bringing with it clear skies and lots of birds!

12:00 p.m. EST  A steady queue of birds were observed at nearly every
Hawk Watch site throughout western Connecticut and southern New York.

1:00 p.m. EST  A few birds could still be observed as clouds were moving in from the northwest.

2:00 p.m. EST  White Memorial Hawk Watch calls it a day after observing a total of 2608 birds!

3:00 p.m. EST  Many of the birds were now being observed and counted in northern New Jersey.

Number of Hawks Observed Each Hour at Selected Northeastern U.S. Stations
Hawk Watch Station9:00 AM10:00 AM11:00 AM12:00 PM1:00 PM2:00 PM3:00 PMTotal
Russell, MA115154462051101044
Torrington, CT18427985557541213904451
Litchfield, CT02401173824322002559
Bridgewater, CT02310391582565702133924
Bedford, NY051938592228247608587
Montclair, NJ0019139107693413233491
Fort Washington, PA000165810513541533