Angel Milla

Journal Entry #9
April 5, 2024

Today was our last day of going out to Thompson Creek and collecting Macroinvertebrates. At our first location we collected using the kick nets and attempted to use the D-net to try and see if we were able to find more individuals or new Macroinvertebrate species. Our turbidity was 30 cm for all three attempts and the weather outside was clear, sunny, and warm. The average PH for both sites was around 8.4 and the O2 level was averaged around 10. At our second site we also had turbidity of 30 cm. Something interesting that we thought about as well was that Black Flies were very common in the creek, and we believed it was because the waters might be polluted, and Black Flies are common near pollution. But we also learned that Black Flies also live near cattle and there were cattle near the creek. We would have to investigate further but it could mean that if the Black Flies are there due mainly to the presence of cattle, then Thompson Creek can still be maintained clean and healthy. We were not able to identify the Macroinvertebrates that we collected but from what we saw were many Mayflies, Dragonflies and of course there were many Black Flies as well. I was sad to see that it was our last day of going out into the fields and Creek but I enjoyed every second of it and I look forward to our presentations to share with others about our experience and to spread the word about the importance of what I am doing.

Journal #8
March 22, 2024

Today was our last day of visiting our transects to check out the phenology in our plants. It was raining and around 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit. The first transect we visited was the Fireworks Prairies where we noted some major changes this time. Many of the plants such as the Black-Eyed Susan and the Golden rods have started to show no more initial growth and have full leaves growing and budding/flowering. This was also the same case for some plants that we did not mark such as Rosinweed and the Rattlesnake Master. We also reminded ourselves of some plants and their importance such as Common Milk weed. This plant is important because it can produce a form of cotton that many people use to make clothing and other things as well. Some creatures that prefer to live in Milk weed are the Monarch Butterfly as well. This shows us to appreciate and value nature because many animals and other microorganisms can only survive on certain plants and habitats and if they were to not exist anymore it would affect us so much more. At our next transect, the Upland Hardwoods, we noticed our Loblolly Pine trees have moved to the pollen stage where pinecones have released their pollen. Other trees like the White Oak and other plants have either finished their initial growth or have finished. Next, we visited Duck Pond where we noted some animals and something interesting that caught my eye was a certain fungus that only grows during rainy or damp weather and on certain plants as well. I do not remember the name of the fungus, but I enjoyed learning about it. I am very excited for our final trip to Thompson Creek to gather Macroinvertebrates and identify them.

Journal #7
March 15, 2024

Today we had a very special group of people who worked for the Aquatic Science Stream Team at the South Carolina Department of Environmental Control (SCDHEC). Not only did they share their experience in the field and showed us the importance of everything they do, they also joined us in the field in Thompson Creek to collect Macroinvertebrates. With their help we were able to identify many Macroinvertebrates and we were showed some tips when collecting. Overall, I am very thankful and appreciate them for joining us today. It was cloudy and very light rain when we were out in the field and around 574-75 degrees. We were also informed about the air quality in South Carolina was something to watch out for due to many prescribed burnings in the area. The water levels were slightly higher than last time we were out in the creek but not as high as our previous data. We tested the Turbidity in our first site and got 60 cm. For PH in our first site, we had an average of 9.1, for O2 levels we got 9.3, and finally our average temperature was 17.5 degrees Celsius. In our second site we had an average turbidity of 57 cm, for PH we got 8.3 and for 02 levels we got 9.3. Finally, the average temperature was around 17.1 degrees Celsius. Some interesting critters we collected today that I if found interesting were the Dragonfly (Boyeria vinosa), Riffle Beetles (Elmidao), and we found a young live Crayfish (Cambaridae) as well. We also found many Black Flies. I hope that in the future we can help the stream by becoming a part of DHEC’s Adopt- A- Stream program to clean our water and improve all wildlife surrounding Thompson Creek. Overall, we were very efficient in collecting our samples and I enjoyed my experience today. I look forward to next when we return to the fields and woodlands to see if our plants have bloomed with some fruits/flowers.

Journal Entry #6
March 1,  2024

Today was World Wildlife Day! We were introduced to the history of wildlife research all over the world and were shown this year’s goal of World Wildlife Day. We learned that this year’s goal was to use technology to learn more about the world and to inform others. Learning about the goal of World Wildlife Day and seeing that a lot of the same technology is used to record data, analyze data, and teach others about nature here at Southern 8ths was very inspiring.  For today we went back out to our transects at Fireworks Prairie to see how our plants were doing and see if there were any changes. With all our plants we noticed some initial growth and growing leaves, while out in the fields at Fireworks Prairie we also were introduced to some other species like Rosinweed and Rattlesnake master. From the prairie, we visited our Upland Hardwood Forest transects where we observed more open flowers on our Red Maple and the first flowers of Common Blue Violet. Overall, today was cold and drizzling outside so we were limited to our time in the field, but we were still able to gather a lot of information and data. I’m looking forward to our next session as we will go back into Thompson Creek to gather more Macroinvertebrates and identify them as well.

 Journal #5
February 23,  2024

Today we continued our research on Macroinvertebrates and the quality of Thompson Creek. We made our way to our first area where we gathered information. Today was partly cloudy and there were mild drizzles every so often. Before we started collecting some Macroinvertebrates, we first checked our Turbidity. In our first sampling location we were able to fill the 60 cm tube and see the bottom meaning that the creek was clear. Then we gathered material from the creek using our kick nets and collected our specimens.   We did this three times and after that we measured temperature, PH, and Mg/ml. The average temperature was 13 degrees Celsius. Ph was 8.7 and mg/ml was 10.29. Next, we went to our second sampling location on Thompson Creek to do the same thing. First, we checked the turbidity. It was clear up to 60cm. Then we collected our 3 samples using the net. Finally, the average temperature was 11.4 degrees Celsius. PH was 8.3 and mg/ml was 9.93. We made our way back to the Learning Center and we looked at the Macroinvertebrates we collected from last time and today and started to identify them. Unfortunately, we were able to identify many Black Flies and I learned that they have a high pollution tolerance meaning that the creek could be polluted. We were also able to find some Mayflies and even some Leeches as well. I learned that there are many Macroinvertebrates that are difficult to identify due to their similarity to other species. One specimen that my group had a difficult time identifying was a Crayfish that was found deceased during our first day in the creek. Next time I hope we are able to find more Macroinvertebrates and be able to learn more about them and identify key species that will give us a sign about our water quality. Next week we will return to our transects and hopefully we will see more plant growth and bloom fruits/flowers!

Journal #4
February 16, 2024

Day four was our phenology day in which we visited our two locations where we set up our transects and recorded different plants and trees. Before we went out into the fields we had a very exciting meeting with Brandon Hough who is the Executive Director of Homegrown National Park. He discussed always helping others and informing others about the importance of preserving the environment from invasive species and ways to help. A question I had asked him was “what is your biggest accomplishment” and his response was being able to make a difference with the people around him. That meant informing your friends and family about the environment and convincing them to also make a difference no matter how small, like planting a native plant in your backyard. After our meeting we drove to an open field and began learning about the use of drones and how to use one. I had a lot of fun when I practiced controlling the drone as well as learning that it is much easier than toy drone as it has more sensors and features. After that went to our first transect on the prairie and noticed many of the plants we had recorded previously had started to increase in size. Most were in their pre-growth stage but have either had slightly larger leaves or more colonies around. Then after we visited our next transect which were in the woodlands where we noted leaf buds on White Oak and open flowers on Red Maple. After recording our data, we got to explore more of Southern 8ths and visit some new locations. One of my favorite locations would be Inspiration Rock. There we learned that in that same location the Owner of Southern 8th farm decided to buy this land and preserve it for nature and protect It from any pollutant or damage. I am looking forward to coming back next week to continue our study of Macroinvertebrates in Thompson Creek.

Journal #3
February 2, 2024

Day three we began our research on Macroinvertebrates. I, personally, was very excited for this segment as I enjoy hands-on activities relating to animals of all kinds. We will be conducting our collection at a part along a section of the Thompson Creek in two different areas. We prepared to collect our samples by wearing waders pants to stay dry and gathering tools to collect. In area one we first measured the turbidity which helped us see how clear the water was at certain depths. In both areas one and two the turbidity was over 60 cm, which meant the water was relatively clear. We also recorded temperature, PH and O 2 levels. For PH the average in the first area was 9.6 and the second area was 8.96. This meant that the water was basic rather than acidic, which is a good sign.  As for O 2 the average for both was around 9.5 which meant the water had a lot of oxygen available for Fish and Aquatic Macroinvertebrates.  The average temperature came to be around 10 degrees Celsius, or 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The collection of our specimens was successful as we were able to collect many different Macroinvertebrates. Some species consisted of Mayflies and Clams and some larger Macroinvertebrates. They were all collected and labeled based on what location were in. Overall, this was a very fun experience for me and my partners as I enjoy hands-on research and learning new things along the way. During the day we also saw some Deer tracks going into the creek meaning that they probably went in for a drink, and we heard some Wood Ducks in the distance. Next week we will continue our research on Phenology and look at our transects to see if the plants we labeled changed and in what way did they changed.

Journal #2
February 2, 2024

Day two we started our day checking the weather and having a discussion of what we were going to do today. It was roughly around 60 degrees outside, and the sun was out as well. While checking out Thompson Creek noticed that the water levels have decreased since last week as we were able to see some rock beds and other things compared to last time. Then we made our way to the Fireworks P. There we began to make a transect, a square one, 65×65 feet. t. There we will continue to monitor different plants and record any changes over time. Some of the plants that I look forward to studying are would be the Black-Eyed Susan and the Golden Rods. I would love to see them flower and show off their beautiful yellow colors. After we set up our transect and set up our plants names and location we moved nearby to a trail where there were many trees and set up another transect, the Upland Hardwoods. There, some of the species we are going to record include some White Oak trees and Pine trees which are the most common trees here in North Carolina. While setting up our transects, something interesting I saw was a peeled pinecone on the ground. I realized when one of my instructors pointed out that a squirrel peeled it for food. Overall, I am very excited to record this data and see if all the plants grow or if they don’t and why. And, to determine if location matters for some species of plants. While outside the prairies as well I saw some turkey vultures flying in the sky and heard some chirping from some Carolina warblers as I used an app to help me figure out the sound. I saw some wonderful things today and learned new things as well. We visited a logging site and there we learned about prescribed burning as well as machines/vehicles used to cut down large trees. We were able to see that burning took place at the site as some trees have black charr around the base. Some other trees were leaking sap and have some gashes in the bark, signifying that large vehicles bumped into them. I’m looking forward to next week as we will begin studying macroinvertebrates and collecting samples in Thompson Creek as well.

Journal #1
January 26, 2024

This Friday was day one, and we began orientation to learn about Southern 8ths and to become familiar with what we are going to be doing and the areas where we will be gathering information about macroinvertebrates. Even though today’s weather was sunny and mildly warm, the days before it was raining quite a lot so the trails were muddy and the water level of Thompson Creek, where we will be gathering our data, had risen. This was the first location we went through and while visiting the creek I learned about different things to look out for such as snags which are usually branches or trees that have fallen in the river. These are important as they can provide habitats for many species. We also learned about riffles that are shallows areas of the river that usually run over rocks and create a bubbly type of effect that adds oxygen to the water. Due to the river’s higher water level of the creek rising we were not able to see the riffles. Through our tour and visiting different areas of Southern 8ths, there were some interesting wood sculptures. Each one was handcrafted with mainly a chainsaw and a chisel and had a meaning/significance to it. The one that caught my attention the most was a sculpture of a horse being covered or protected by a large bald eagle. This sculpture symbolized that the eagle was the protector over the cemetery and graves that we visited. Another interesting location we toured was the Fireworks Prairie. There we learned about the different types of plants that are grown in the prairie such as Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and Black- Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and many more. I look forward to learning about all the species of macroinvertebrates that we will be collecting data on. The data I am most interested in collecting would be the wildlife that lives on the farm as well as birds, more specifically owls, as they interest me. Overall, this was a great first day here at Southern 8ths farm and I look forward to seeing all of the fun and exciting things we do as we collect data and research.