April 30, 2019

Third Visit to Foxcroft Farm

Our third visit to Foxcroft Farm was, unfortunately, going to be our last, and we would go back to working in the lab setting next week once again. This week, we had a box to fill with samples we collected to analyze later. It had rained again the night prior and the stream was even more flooded, so once again we could not reach our BioCube, so we took samples from around the rest of the ecosystem. We took samples of the water and the soil, along with plants and bugs we found.
This week, I was finally able to see the robins that have been calling these past weeks. Unfortunately, the bird was too far away to get a clear photograph to upload. However, it was still nice to get confirmation that these birds were in fact present. We found some interesting plants for the box of samples, like Queen Anne's lace. I thought that plant, in particular, looked very interesting, due to the little dried flowers it appeared to have. I was excited to see what it would be identified as once I uploaded its picture because I wanted to see one fully in bloom. I also photographed a plant with clumps of leaves that I was interested in identifying, but am not satisfied with the ID iNaturalist suggested so I am hoping another person corrects the identification.
This week, we caught many interesting insects and spiders! Tom was very good at catching them, and the rain had made them come out from their various burrows. We caught 4 spiders, two large and two small. They all had the same back markings, so I only uploaded a photo of one of them. Our group hypothesized that all four spiders were the same species. We also decided that the difference in size could be explained in two ways. The first is that the smaller spiders were male spiders and the larger were females, and this was sexual selection. The second was that the smaller spiders were simply younger, and less developed. We also caught a grasshopper, which was very exciting because they are quick!
The most exciting catch of this week was the Fringed Diving Beetle. We saw a group of about 4 of them skimming the surface of the water, and in the water, they look like nondescript ovals. We were immediately curious and had to catch one. Our net was not long enough, and the beetles were extremely swift, so they dodged our attempts easily. To make the task harder, there was a bush full of thorns hiding part of the bank of the stream the beetles would hide under. However, after about 30 minutes, the beetles finally came close enough that the net reached, and we struck! We were so excited about the catch. The beetle has what looks like a shell or armor over its body, and two of its legs are longer than the others. It looked like it used those legs were used to change direction in the water quickly.
This was a great end to the three weeks spent at Foxcroft Farms. I know my whole group will miss coming to the farm and getting to collect samples in the stream.

Posted on April 30, 2019 03:43 by arshiak arshiak | 5 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 23, 2019

Second Visit to Foxcroft Farm

Our second visit to Foxcroft Farm was just as fun as the first! It had rained the night before, so there were pools of water across the farm, so much so that one of the teams had to walk in trash bags to reach their ecosystem! While the walk to the stream was not that bad, unfortunately, the stream had overflowed its banks, and we could not reach our BioCube. Instead, we took more pictures and samples of the stream wherever we could reach.
I noticed immediately the sounds of birds filling the air. I could not see the birds or identify them, as they were hidden or too far up in a tree to see, but there was certainly a flock nearby. Perhaps next time, I should record their sounds. We started taking pictures of the plants we could reach. There was a lot of a certain grass looking plant growing in the bank of the water, which I captured a photo of. They were rooted in the water. When I uploaded the image, I found out they were young cattails. I have attached the image I took of the cattails.
We had a small net in our bag, so we used that to skim the top of the stream and small pools of water that had been created by the rain for organisms. We caught a spider, and a fly. We found a few more insects but were unfortunately unable to catch or photograph them.
We continued to explore the stream, but not much had changed since last week, save the stream overflowing, so we could reach even less. During our silence, I heard the birds mentioned previously and the sounds of the stream. I could hear my groupmates moving around the ecosystem, as well. I decided to go as far into the woods next to the stream as I could, to see if I could find something new. I ended up just enjoying how peaceful the scene was instead of finding different organisms, but I just enjoyed taking a minute to be fully immersed in the environment.
One exciting thing that happened was that one of our group members almost fell into the stream! He was reaching over the edge with a net to see what he could catch, and a piece of wood broke off under his feet. Luckily, he was able to catch himself, and we were even able to retrieve the wood that fell. We found that inside, there were many carpenter ants, which were the cause of the wood breaking off. The wood also had some mushrooms on it, which I am not fully convinced on the ID of. Overall, the second week at the farm was a lot of fun, and we were able to find lots of cool organisms!

Posted on April 23, 2019 03:34 by arshiak arshiak | 5 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment