Native Plants, Habitat Restoration, and Other Science Snippets from Athens, Georgia

Friday: 18 February 2011

Yesterday  -  @ 07:31:56
Part 1. Waking Up.

The last five consecutive days have had us in the 60s with pleasant clear weather. We've had only six additional days above 60 degF since December 1, for a total of eleven. That actually beats last winter, when we had only eight days above 60 during the same period. But in the winter of 2007-2008 we'd had 28 days with temperatures above 60, and 29 such days in the same period 2008-2009. So no question about it - it's been a cold winter!

It's been just over five years since I'd seen my first armadillo on our property, Nov 23 2005. They had just reached our area. Since then I've only seen them occasionally at night, but their holes and grubbings are to be found everywhere. I suspect they've had a very significant influence on the ecology of the litter and soil beneath.

On yesterday's walk, I surprised this armadillo and he took off in a wide circle around me and up the hill. I was surprised at how fast they can move. He paused just briefly for a last look before zipping down his hole.

I'd spotted a butterfly a couple of days ago, but hadn't been able to see it clearly enough to identify it. Whatever that one was, this one seems to be a Question Mark, Polygonia interrogationis (thanks, Dale). It was taking a little rest break on a projecting buttress root overlooking Goulding Creek. I'd documented them previously Mar 4 2008 and Nov 19 2007, so quite a broad range of activity.

Part 2. Overdone Chicken.

The walk was interrupted, about half a mile from the house, by a page for a chicken house structure fire. The page was initially made to our sister FD on our southern border, but these sorts of calls tend to spread, so I made my way home just in time to get the call for a tanker from Wolfskin. Fire Chief Ed had been on a bike ride and stopped by the station on his way home to open up and get out the trucks, and the tanker was ready for me to take when I got there.

The route to the farms on Union Point Road, Hway 77, is over Hutchins-Wolfskin Road, a dirt road only partly gravelled, but it had at least not rained for a week or so. The road was fairly good, but it's also extremely long. I checked in as I turned in the drive to the farm, and just missed the cancel. So I got to stay there for a couple of hours as the only responder from Wolfskin. Chicken houses burn fast, and the main action is to keep the fire from spreading.

Part 3. Shades of Pleasantville.

About 9pm there was a page to that same FD on our southern border, for a location right on the border. Cat stuck up a tree.

But for a few hundred yards, that page might have been to us, and a life-long dream would have been fulfilled. As it was, a SECOND page had to be made to the lucky department - we would have responded instantly, and we have ladders too.

We followed the progress over the next hour, and indeed there were inquiries from 911/Central to query whether cat had been rescued. Eventually it was. I'm so jealous.

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