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River Beach & Barred Owls

February 23, 2011
Cahaba River at Benton Beach

Cahaba River at Benton Beach

Last night after work five of us drove down to the park behind the lab to walk along some of the local trails through the backwater swamp with gum and cypress trees. We walked down to Barton’s Beach along the Cahaba River. This is a large gravel and sand beach stretching for several hundred yards. We observed relict shells of several species of freshwater clams but didn’t collect anything. This was a great escape from the lab and time to enjoy the fresh air.

This morning we began on project two, working on the basic taxonomy of the freshwater periwinkles. This involves reading the original description of the species and what various authors have said about the species for the past 150 years. This exercise is basic to a complete revision of the taxonomy of the family. We check each of the localities where the species were described and identify the original specimens used in the original species description. So this is how we spent today, talking about a whole list of species, who described them and when, which museum maintains the original type specimens.

Floating Turtle Trap

Floating Turtle Trap

This afternoon to take a break from these mental exercises, Jeff, Ellen and I walked down the road alongside the hatchery toward the river. I photographed a floating turtle trap. They are trapping the sliders to remove them from the fishponds. We walked back into the forest for several hundred yards listening to the birds and spring peepers. The sounds of two Barred Owls hooting at each other brought us to a stop. Jeff tried to call one of them in with no luck;  the bird sat in a pine tree watching us. Dinner was waiting when we returned. After dinner, we returned to the lab to try and make some more progress on editing these species accounts.

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