This Past Summer

By A. Basil

 Hi, everyone! I hope you are well, and I apologize for being somewhat lax in sharing the incredible summer we've had at Westmoreland.

Being a part of this summer's group of interns and volunteers, I can tell you that the ever-necessary conservation work kept us both constantly immersed in nature and open to learning more about it, from each other and from Westmoreland staff. Here's a brief run-through of our work through June, July, and August. Enjoy!

Bird Banding

We had some very productive months of bird banding. For those who may be new to the topic, bird banding is a method of avian conservation involving the attachment of lightweight metal bands to wild birds' legs. These tags help us monitor bird populations within the sanctuary, migration patterns, and the lives of individual birds. They are also helpful in relaying information to other bird banders who may come into contact with any individual bird. This summer, we banded the following bird species:
  • Blue jay
  • Downy woodpecker
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • House finch
  • Goldfinch
  • Wood sparrow
  • Rufous-winged sparrow
  • Rose-breasted grosbeak
  • Mourning dove
  • Titmouse
  • Nuthatch
  • Chickadee

Invasive Species Management

Above: The invasive (and spiky) Japanese Angelica tree.

                                    The spot cleared of Japanese Angelica.

Interns and volunteers participated in land management efforts by clearing invasive species, including Japanese Angelica, multiflora rose, and Oriental bittersweet. Some of the habitats included the riparian area (we catch the invasive rusty crayfish here, too), Wheeler Field, and along the trails. Major trails had significant storm damage, which we took care of. A couple of our trees had fallen, but they were no match for Steve and his chainsaw. We revitalized land by planting native species as well.

Our natives are armed with protection from deer...

Wheeler Field is doing really well, by the way! We've seen a number of pollinators, some of them quite uncommon. You can also see native species, including jewelweed, goldenrod, and Black-eyed Susans, beginning to really flourish:

Wheeler Field, top left, with its native species. 

Pollinators at Westmoreland. 

Pond/Stream Ecology

'Pond scooping' at Betchel Lake

Riparian area

Monitoring the health of Betchel Lake and all of our riparian areas is essential to conservation efforts. Good news-- we found quite a few sensitive species in these habitats, indicating good water quality. 

Very fascinating pond...stuff.

A sunny and a tadpole in conversation.

Traps, put in place to catch invasive Rusty Crayfish.

Trail Maintenance/Land Surveillance

Westmoreland's approximately 7 miles of trails are monitored and maintained on a fairly regular basis. On hikes, we cleared invasive species and broken branches, used loppers to cut any stray brush, and learned about the forest's staggeringly diverse array of life.

Well, that's a basic summary of what volunteers and interns did this summer! Of course, countless little anecdotes still remain. But we'll save those for another day.  :)

All the best, 

-- A. Basil

Photo credit: Akanksha Basil