While December was a slow month because of the holidays, things are really picking up now that it is January.
I’ve been assisting with a Plant Growth Monitoring project. Once a week, the monitoring lead and I go out into the field and monitor specific plants, measuring length of leaves, water depth (with the Willamette Valley’s on-and-off rainy weather, the depth of the vernal pools can really vary), and grazing/frost damage. Right after the new year it was actually quite interesting: Eugene had a cold snap, and all of the vernal pools had a thin layer of ice covering them. We got to step through the ice (rubber boots are a definite must have) to find our plants, and most of them were frosted over.
After monitoring the T&E species during the summer field season, seeing the wetlands during the winter is quite the surprise–it’s such a drastic change! Where there were once green prairies, now there are huge swathes of water. Sometimes herds of Canada geese take refuge in the wetlands, easily located by their cacophony of honking; it’s very different from the silent butterflies and praying mantises that wended their way through the wetlands last summer.