Sunday, March 27, 2011

Exciting times ahead

Today I went on my first training for the NEPCoP. New England Plant Conservation Program, that is. A program run by the New England Wildflower Society, to monitor and sometimes maintain populations of rare, threatened or endangered species. We met on Cape Cod, at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, of which I know nothing, but I'm sure is very interesting.
Together with agencies from all six New England states they perform surveys where they go out and check on plant populations on private and public land. I am a beginner both in botany and conservation, and this will be a wonderful opportunity to learn about nature and to get to see some exciting, beautiful sites. And many of them are secret - both because they are on private land and because the plants are so endangered. We had to sign papers to promise that we would not disclose any of the locations.
I think the instructor said that in all six states they do up to 3000 surveys per year. That's lot of plants!
As a volunteer I will be given a list of sites and occasions and sign up for the ones I'm interested in doing. In my area there are a lot of us so I might have to travel a little further from town if I want to make sure I get to do it. There will also be plenty of chances to go out and clean up invasive species which I am really looking forward to. As a beginner I will be paired up with some more experienced NEPCoPs.

The drive to the Cape was smooth so early in the morning although I got horribly lost once I entered the village of Woods Hole - my own fault for not bother to print out the map and just keeping it in my iPhone, where it was completely illegible. That place might warrant a second visit - so quaint and cute!

On my way home I saw an enormous bird soaring over the land. I could see the colors were different from a hawk and I thought it might be an eagle. I have never seen one, so I was a bit excited.
At home I brought out my brand new Crossley ID guide and could right away see that the bird I saw was not an eagle but a juvenile turkey vulture. Well, I'd never seen that one before either! I also saw what looked like an osprey nest high up on a pole (thanks to my nature loving blog friends I now know what an osprey nest looks like).

In the morning before going I saw this little guy:

Not as imposing as the turkey vulture, but very welcome in his own way. The goldfinches at my feeder are obviously as ready for spring as we are and have started to molt their gray coat.

For my next post I will return to Puerto Rico and show some pictures I took in the rain forest state park El Yunque. After that, maybe spring will have come?

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