Today, our field biology class made our first stop at the Charles D. Owen District Park at 8:45 am. We started off by grabbing our nets and searching for whatever we could find in the pond. Since it was rainy, we were not able to find any butterflies. Dr. Basinger caught several fish, including a blue gill. We were able to catch a mosquito fish, crane fly, dragon fly nymph, damsel fly nymph, and a nightcrawler. Dr. Carpenter also caught an amphipod.
Our second stop was at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly at 10:20 am. Here, we were able to catch several red spotted newts, which are the only species of newts in North Carolina. We also caught a skimmer dragon fly nymph, a common stone fly nymph, a roach-like stone fly nymph, and a crane fly larvae. Dr. Basinger fished in the pond and caught a large mouth bass.
We then headed back to the lodge for lunch and then to the Western North Carolina Nature Center instead of Curtis Creek because it was raining. At the nature center, there were many different species of animals, including the American black bear, cougars, the red wolf, and the corn snake. We were interested to find out that the red wolf nearly went extinct before being repopulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It was also interesting to note how small the black bear enclosure was. We felt that it should have been larger to accommodate the size of the bears.
After having dinner, we returned to the lodge and went walking on the Blue Ridge trail at 8:37 for night observations with our red flashlights. We split into groups of two and one group of three and waited quietly for an hour in the dark to search for nocturnal organisms. Zach and Brittney searched for glowing worms. Dr. Carpenter determined that the worms they caught were Pyromorpha dimidata, which is a type of larval moth. Dr. Carpenter caught an Orfelia fultoni, a type of larval fly. At the end of the day, Dr. Basinger picked out a mountain laurel.
Overall, the journey today was interesting because we caught fish, observed species at the nature center, and observed the mountains at night. Today was filled with several new experiences for everyone. We are looking forward to tomorrow, which will be our last day in the field.
- Brandon and Zach