Archives for 2018

Sep
4
Rare Plant Rescue Signing Off

This will be the last blog from the RPR crew this year. It’s hard to believe that September is here. How quickly this summer has flown by. Although, with the weather being as variable as it can be in this province you can never count out the potential for a beach day regardless of what the calendar date says. We enjoyed the weather over the last few weeks and, although we always hope for rain in these dry years, we were also glad to not have been stormed out or encounter impassible roads this time around. In fact, we had a very successful field trip over the last couple of weeks searching for rare plant populations and monitoring past occurrences.

Thanks to some very useful habitat models we were able to find new locations of Smooth Goosefoot (bottom right), a threatened plant species that loves sand dunes, which was lucky for us because so do we. It’s always nice to get to explore the interesting dune habitat (bottom left) scattered across the province and I would recommend that if you haven’t been to the Great Sand Hills that you put it on your “must-see” list. We also found the Hairy Prairie Clover (top) populations that we were monitoring to be thriving, with several occurrences numbering in the thousands! This plant had been described to me as reminiscent of Sideshow Bob’s hair and after seeing it in person, I admit it is a great comparison.

Along with finding additional target species such as Small Lupine, Bur Ragweed, and Beaked Annual Skeletonweed, we found some beautiful Scarlet Gaura (right) still in bloom, lots of broomweed and rabbitbrush, and many dotted blazing star (middle) and blue lettuce plants (left) in flower.

We also saw some pretty cool insects such as Ten-lined June Beetles (right), whose large size, unusual appearance, and ability to hiss can be quite intimidating. As well, we were lucky enough to come across an adorable velvet ant (middle), whose plush appearance and misleading name are maybe not intimidating enough? Another common name for a velvet ant is “cow killer”. They are not actually ants but are wingless bees and although they do not actually kill cows, their name apparently stems from a reputation for having an extremely painful bite. I personally don’t care to find out what it feels like, though I must admit I am a little curious. Another neat find was a spider’s sand burrow (left). The tunnel was lined with silk and we were hoping to catch a glimpse of the brave engineer that lived inside but unfortunately weren’t so lucky.

We are still waiting to hear about results of some funding applications and, therefore, we stayed at the lake with family for a few nights while in the field to try to stretch a buck. It was nice to be able to cool off at the end of the day by jumping into the water, and it didn’t hurt that beavers, herons, and these adorable little minks also call the lake home. We woke up to some beautiful views of fuchsia sunrises and mist on the water that our cameras just don’t do justice to.

The latest encounters: male antelope watching over their harems, currently full of mothers and their twins; extremely well camouflaged coyotes; and Golden and Bald Eagles; were welcomed. This summer has gone by in a blur. I have truly loved spending more time in the field this year, and enjoy and appreciate all the animal and plant species that call this province home. A huge thank you to all the landowners who allowed us on their property, we couldn’t do any of this work without you!

Until next year!

Ashley and Emily - Rare Plant Rescue

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