Thursday, February 28, 2008

Forked Tongues

Well, the weather is really warming up. Consequently our snake friends have been seen sunning themselves at Tsal-Luk Wah. (say that 10 times fast!) Three snakes were seen snuggling together in an area that burned last year. Only see two heads? The third one darted off into a rodent hole just before the picture was taken. Our new West Eugene Wetlands site host, William, has been seeing snake babies out here as well.

Since reptiles smell with their tongues, a forked tongue is very helpful. The forks of the tongue literally bring in very, very small bits of scent into the snakes' mouth. This is then transferred to an organ in its mouth that it uses to smell. (What that means is that the smell bits go into the snakes' mouth on the tongues and then the snakes can tell if there is something good to eat close by!) That sure is different than the way we do it, huh?

These were taken by Paul Gordon, City of Eugene Restoration Technical Specialist. Thanks for the great photos, Paul!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

You never know what you'll get in the mail.

What in the world did our friend, Elvira, send us? Post a comment with your guesses. We have a prize for the correct answer. (don't give it away, Elvira!)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Vernal Pools Project with WREN's Citizen Science

WREN is partnering with local scientists such as Cary Kerst and community volunteers for a new Citizen Science program. As the name implies, Citizen Science will gather scientific information around the west Eugene area to give us a better understanding of our area. Our first project in this program is the Vernal Pools Project. This winter we have begun a qualitative study of three vernal pool sites in west Eugene (that means we are checking things out to see what's there). We are looking for folks that have some field science background or a strong commitment to learn sampling protocol to join us in this endeavor both Spring and Fall.

Vernal refers to "spring" in Latin. Wetlands sometimes have pools that fill seasonally, that are not connected to any other open waterways, called vernal pools. These seasonal bodies of water create a very unique niche habitat due to acidity and salinity gradients. (that means that vernal pools can be a harsh place to live because the chemistry of the dirt can really change! AND there aren't very many places like this so a special place = special things living there)

Here is a shot of Liz, Cary and I at the Tsanchiifin site.

Do you see the macroinvertebrates? (find the little water bugs we are looking for - don't look too close!) There is a caddisfly larva on the right hand side next to its case.

Uh oh...............................

Talk about getting into your work. Thanks, Cary! And thanks to Rick Ahrens for the fun photos and volunteering his time with this project!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Frogs on the blog.

Spring starts early here in the wetlands. The Pacific Tree Frog, or Hyla regilla in scientific latin terms, is already getting ready for the warmer weather to come. As early as January, males begin to call to the females to breed. Pacific Tree frogs have also been called Chorus frogs and when you hear them you know why. They are one of the smallest amphibians around with one of the loudest voices. They have a distincitve, two-part call that is sung in unison to let the females know they are available. (Thank you to John Applegarth for the photos!)