With warm rain expected, netting aquatic life in our Study Area seemed like a good way to put in our time. At the Sarsaparilla Trail, however, the observation dock has become so closely surrounded by tall stands of Narrow-leaved Cattails (and their hybrids) that little open water was available for our nets. We managed to catch a couple of Brook Stickleback minnows, and let them go. Working south along the shore, thick masses of Reed Canary Grass lay between us and the cattails. Only Rob found his way out to open water and he did it by walking off the end of a floating log (thereby getting a rubber-boot soaker).
As lunchtime approached, Rob changed course and led the group overland through seemingly endless thickets of Glossy Buckthorn, eventually emerging into a well remembered clearing with a small stand of Rhubarb. Samantha and Gabby happily chewed on the unsweetened stalks for a long time, even after their meal.
After one more attempt to reach water, Rob gave up on Pond I and led back past the dock and north to Pond II. It was choked with tall vegetation, too, but we hit on an old beaver canal from which we dredged up several kinds of pond snails, a bunch of Mudminnows, and three Green Frog tadpoles. The main problem was the mat of floating Frogbit plants that had to be lifted off the net in order to see anything. Owen competently
There is a really big old ash tree by the trail, and we were saddened to see that it is half dead from the attacks of the Emerald Ash Borer. Over the years, the hollow trunk and knotholes have been home to Honey Bees, young Porcupines, and a White-breasted Nuthatch family.
Narrow-leaved Cattails and their hybrids, as well as Reed Canary Grass, Glossy Buckthorn, European Frogbit, and the Emerald Ash Borer, are all invasive species that have been substantially reshaping our Nature Study Area from what we have known it to be.