Three turtles on a log
You have asked some great questions that I would like to answer. So far I have not seen any alligators, but today (Saturday) was really the first day out in the field. Before this I met the other teachers, learned about caterpillars and how to spot them, got settled in the field station, and went grocery shopping. I did get a chance to walk around a beautiful park in New Orleans (Friday) before we headed for the Field Station in Slidell, Louisiana to begin the science research. How far is Slidell, Louisiana from New Orleans?
The bird in the picture on the left is a great white egret. It is from the same family of birds as one that we commonly see in Oregon, but ours is a different color. Does this remind you of a bird you have seen before? Try looking up egret on the internet, and I think you will find the answer. The bird on the right is an ibis. It has a long funny looking beak for a reason. This is an adaptation to help it find and catch its food. What do you think it eats?
We are all staying in the bunkhouse at the Pearl River Wildlife District. Scientists doing this kind of research often stay in a 'field station' close to the research site to save time from having to travel from the forest to the university lab. It's a bit like staying at Outdoor School.
I have observed several things about this ecosystem that may interest you. The fauna is mostly different from Portland and Lake Oswego, It is much more tropical. There are many flowers still in bloom even though it is nearly the end of October, and palm trees grow here naturally. I got to see some of the native fauna(great white egret and ibises, fire ants, and some very large turtles) in the park where I took a walk. The pictures above are from my walk in the park. Can you see the fire ants in the middle picture?
You might be especially interested in the fire ants. I know that I am because I have to watch out for them while I am working with the scientists and teachers in the field! I almost stepped in a fire ant hill. We don't have them in Portland, so I didn't even know I was near one. Fortunately, another teacher from Florida knows what they are, and he warned me not to go near them.
They are a bit scary and certainly very interesting. Please look them up and tell me what you find out. I'll be interested in any advice you have from your research, but please don't worry. I have strong boots that go up to my knees, and I am now watching out for the fire ant hills. It's a good thing because the spiders here are quite large too! We saw one today that had brown furry legs.
The other teachers are fun to work with. They have come from Illinois, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Florida, and New York, Please ask Mrs. Nelson to pull down the US map sometime this week to get a look at where these states are located if you have forgotten.
Now, I must head to bed. We have a busy day of caterpillar hunting, setting up a field laboratory, and counting vegetation ahead of us tomorrow. I have an awesome picture of the biggest and coolest grasshopper I have ever seen to show you on tomorrow's post. I will also post some caterpillar pictures. I found four different types today. I am learning to look more closely at the natural world around me, and it is a lot of fun!