On the trail

Tales from the Field

A fuzzy sword fern fiddlehead declares spring has sprung at the Grove of Old Trees in Sonoma County.

A fuzzy sword fern fiddlehead declares spring has sprung at the Grove of Old Trees in Sonoma County.

Yesterday was a cold, but lovely day in the field with signs of spring all around. I went to both Samuel P. Taylor State Park and the Grove of Old Trees to check on sword fern growth and the weather stations for Fern Watch. I was pleased to see so many young fiddleheads popping up through the leafy crowns of sword ferns at both sites, but was dismayed to find my weather stations needing much TLC!

At Samuel P Taylor, aphids munched on the bay tree near the weather station and their droppings created a sooty mold outbreak all over my leaf wetness sensor. Apparently the equipment can’t tell the difference between aphid honeydew and rain or fog, so my recent data may be totally suspect. That’s okay, because nature happens and I placed the weather station in a new, hopefully aphid-free, location.

Aphid, sooty mold, and lichen covered weather station at Samuel P. Taylor State Park.

Aphid, sooty mold, and lichen covered weather station at Samuel P. Taylor State Park.

There were no aphid issues at the Grove of Old Trees, but I can’t keep those batteries running for more than a few weeks at a time. A short in the system? Bad batteries? Dark arts? Who knows!

I definitely need help tracking fiddleheads in the redwood forest this year so I can time my next measurements well. If you spot fiddleheads in the forests, please send me a pic or message me @DoctorFern on twitter. Thanks!

 

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