Friday, August 27, 2010

Status update

Heading to the creek this morning to check out a logging tract in the Pea Vine subwatershed. Here is a cool pic to tide you over until I get back....

At first glance this looks like some kind of coral skeleton placed
at the base of a tree - hence the name coral fungus.  Coral Fungi
are an interesting group of saprophytes (living off the dead) from
the division Ascomycota.  Look for them under dense oak-hickory
stands in rich moist soils.  They extract energy from rotting oak roots.
The part of the fungus you see is the reproductive structure of the
organism called an ascus which will release spores as it dries out.  The
best time of the year to find these is early summer after a period of heavy
rains but they do grow throughout the late spring and summer months. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hellbender Video

As promised, here is a link to view a video clip of the micro-explorer camera in action.  In this clip we were able to observe an adult male underneath a large rock.  Note the rocking motion of the head, a behavior rarely witnessed in the wild or captivity.  Thanks Greg, I defintiely need to get my hands on one of these cameras!

For those who are not familiar with what a hellbender looks like, here is a dorsal view of an adult that measures about 16 inches from head to tail.  Note:  Look for the flat, rounded head in the video if you are having trouble recognizing any of the shapes.

Friday, August 20, 2010

On the South Fork with Greg

Another damselfly resident of the watershed - the american 
rubyspot (Hetaerina americana).  The red patches on the base of its
wing identifies it as a male.  He was checking us out from the
water willow lining the bank. 
Wednesday morning I had an opportunity to join Greg
Lipps on the South Fork to test a newpiece of equipment.
I have had the pleasure of assisting Greg with research
projects in the watershed over thepast five years focusing
on everything from spotted salamanders to hellbenders.
Along with Ralph Pfingsten, Greg is the foremost expert on
salamanders in Ohio and is an encyclopedia of information
on amphibian habitat and conservation. In this shot Greg
is testing a new underwater video camera designed to fit
into tight places like underneath large rocks in the creek. 
Can't wait to get my hands on one of these! Although
it was difficult to see on the camera's smallscreen, we did 
capture some interesting critters hinding under the rocks -
video coming soon!  Thanks to Barbara Rogers for allowing us
access the creek via her property.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A bonus - two posts in one day! More from the Warfield Walk.....

Liverworts are simple plant colonies that prefer cool, damp rocks on
which to grow.  The rocks here are covered with this variety.  They
are also indicators of air quality.  This colony is about a foot across
in size. 

Along the banks in this section of creek are towering
white oaks, sugar maples and pignut hickories.  These trees
rise about 100 feet off of the creekbank and play a key
role in the ecosystem by shading the water and preventing
it from becoming excessivley warm.  The dense tree cover
along the creek is just one more factor that contributes to its
exceptional status. 

Look what Amelia & Co. found!  Unfortunately Captina is home to
the invasive Asiatic Carp as are most tributaries of the Ohio River. 
You can imagine the impact an invasive fish of this size can have on
a watershed's native inhabitants.  The fish are accidentally introduced
into large rivers then evetually settle into the deeper pools of the small
tribs in the watershed.  As with most invasives it is difficult to control their
numbers with no natural predators. 

Nature Walk on the Warfield Property

Hi all, I'm back with more advetures from Captina Creek.  On Tuesday
we were lucky enough to be invited to tour the property of Mr. Dan
Warfield in Wayne TWP at the confluence of cranenest creek and
the south fork.  Dan is the one in the cowboy hat to the extreme left.
He had many great stories to share with us about the creek given that his
family has owned this property for 188 years!

Check out this guy!  He's not the most attractive creature in the
creek but has an interesting feature.  The mudpuppy Necturus maculosus
retains its gills throughout its life whereas most other amphibians lose them
as adults.  The gills are hard to see when the animal is lifted out of the water
but they are located on the rear sides of the head.  Mudpuppies eat crayfish
and like to hide under rocks in deeper pools where the bottom is well, muddy.
As if finding poppa wasn't cool enough!  These larval mudpuppies
were under the care of the dad shown above.  They are easily
distinguishable by the black and yellow bands that run parallel down
the lengths of their bodies.  Some will even have a bluish tint to their
undersides.  In mudpuppies the male will stay behind and care for the
young after the female lays eggs.  He will protect them from predators
like crayfish until they are able to fend for themselves.  This is a good
time of the year to find larval mudpuppies.
What a great find!  A variegate darter Etheostoma variatum
netted from one of the swiftly flowing riffles in the creek. 
This is one of the larger darter species in the watershed
ranging 3-4 inches as adults and also one of the most
colorful.  Males, when breeding, will have bright blue and red
bands on their bodies as well as a blue-green anal fin.  Females are
not as showy with four small red bands on their posterior sides.
Variegates are indicators of excellent water quality.
Notice how the creek bottom is solid limestone bedrock that stretches
for hundreds of feet.
Dan Warfield, on left in blue discusses the range of his property
while Greg Lipps, Kelly Capuzzi and Ron Preston discuss the best
pools to shock fish from. 
More posts from the nature walk tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Belmont SWCD Legislator's Tour 2010

A special thanks to all who attended this morning's tour which
included a stop on the North Fork to observe some of the watershed's
diverse fish and macroinvertebrate populations.  Local politicians were
informed about the importance of maintaining high water quality standards
within the watershed as well as the factors that separate Captina Creek
from other local watersheds. 

An easy way to fish! Electroshocking is a quick and somewhat
non-invasive way of sampling a large pool.  A small bullhead was
found here along with several small bluegill and sunfish.
Some interesting macroinverts found in the creek.  Macro-
invertebrate specialist Chad Kenny fished these out then
presented their importance as indicators of water quality. My
favorite is the large helgramite.
OEPA biologist Kelly Capuzzi lectures politicians on the significance
of the watershed and the impact of increased sedimentation on the creek.
Kelly is a wealth of knowledge on water quality standards for streams
of the Flushing Escarpment.
 Commissioners Coffland and Favede inspect a small crayfish from
 the nearby shallows.  Ginny is enjoying Matt's story about catching
these as a kid.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ebony Jewelwing

Damselflies are an interesting type of insect related to the
dragonflies through the order Odonata.  They have the same basic
body design as dragonflies but have wings that fold backward
over a slender body as opposed to outstretched wings and
a stouter body in dragonflies.  Their habiats include shady
riparian corridors along larger streams which is where I found
this Ebony Jewelwing (Calopterxy maculata).  Unlike other flies
their flight motion is sluggish and fluttery like a large moth or butterfly.   

Friday, August 6, 2010

Streambank Erosion

A great example of what happens when a stream bank is not properly
maintained.  Vegetation such as trees and shrubs hold streambanks in
place with a network of roots thereby stabilizing the soil.  When vegetation 
is removed, in this case by excessive ATV traffic next to the creek, the soil
cannot be retained in heavy rainfall and easy flows downstream choking the
watershed.  This sediment deposit is at least 30 inches thick.  Fortunately
this degree of erosion is not common throughout the entire watershed or else
it would significantly impact the diversity of life in Captina Creek.  ATV traffic
should stay away from streambanks and try to avoid stream crossing unless
absolutely necessary to preserve the unique habitat the creek has to offer. 
Stay tuned!   

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

More From Anderson Run

The creekbed here is solid rock of Pennsylvanian
age that stretches for about 150 feet.  The run is surrounded by a dense
stand of Black Walnut, Sugar Maple and and Honey Locust.  Special
thanks to Christine and Rodney Schneider for allowing me to cross their
property to access the run.

A vernal pool inhabitant that is about to undergo a major life
change! In a couple of days instead of swimming in the pool, this
individual will be taking up residence on land in the surrounding
vegetation. The long tail will be absorbed by the froglet's body and
will nourish it until it can effectively capture prey. Larval frogs
can be difficult to identify but I think this one is a Cope's Gray Treefrog
(Hyla chrysoscelis). Help me out here Greg!

More juvenile amphibians - this time a Green Frog (Rana clamitans).
This individual was hanging out in a small vernal pool next to the run. 
Periodic rains have made it a good year for vernal pools in the watershed.
Juvenile green frogs are abundant in streamside pools of this size though the 
mature individuals prefer larger permanant bodies of water .   


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

American Toadlet

Here is an interesting amphibian I spotted last week while hiking through
the lower end of Anderson Run. This tributary is a part of the Pea
Vine subwatershed and empties into Captina near Armstrong Mills. I'm
always on the lookout for frogs, toads and slalmanders and today I was
rewarded with a juvenile American Toad (Bufo americanus) I'm guessing this
individual metamorphosed earlier in June and is now a resident of the
wetlands next to the run. Note the single warts surrounded by black circles.
Barely measuring a half inch, this individual should be fully grown and
ready to reproduce in two years.  More amphib pics later....   

Monday, August 2, 2010

A View From Creekside

Hi all! I would like to welcome everyone to the official blog of the
Captina Creek Watershed.  I hope that by checking in on this site
regularly you will gain an appreciation for the creek and its natural 
resources.  Feedback on the posts is encouraged. 

This picture was taken in July of 2008 near Armstrong Mills.  I usually
post recent photos but this oldie is one of my faves.  I enjoy this
segment of the creek for its diverse tree composition and songbird
population.  The banks are lined with Black Walnut (Juglans nigra),
Yellow Buckeye (Aesculus octandra), Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)  
and even Butternut (Juglans cinerea).   The trees on the south bank
shelter the nearly verticle rise in elevation off the creek floor.

More to come...