Heavenly Bland

Journal #9
April 5, 2024

This week, we wrapped our field days by going to the creek and collecting the last samples. The weather was nice and fairly warm. Everyone seemed to be in such a great mood, especially with how the weather was. The height of the creek was fairly low, and the tide was fast but slower than it has been. We also noted that the water was clear. The water was also warmer than usual. This week in the creek was not as fruitful, most of what we caught seemed to have been Black Fly Larvae. We have collected enough Black Fly Larvae, so we decided not to count that as any of our findings for the week. We did however find a few Mayfly Larvae and a few Dragonfly Larvae. We also collected some Leeches and what seems to be more Blood Worms. We all had a great time this week, especially considering that it was our last field day. It was bittersweet for everyone and slightly sad considering how much fun we had. Most of us have only recently started to get comfortable with fieldwork, but now we have some experience that will benefit us later. I am so honored and blessed to have been allowed to participate in this internship. I was able to meet new people, experience new things, and conquer some fear I had. I never truly understood how much fun and work goes into being in the field. I have way more respect for the people who do this daily and as their career. It has been a huge pleasure being here. I hope other people share the same sentiments when they are completing or have completed this internship.

Journal #8
March 22, 2024

This week was cloudy, rainy, and slightly chilly. The ground was extremely muddy which led to us being greeted by a few frogs during our walk in the woods. It was fairly loud that day as the birds all had something to say at once. It was as if there was a band playing with no particular order. Everyone was singing to the beat of their own drum if you will. We have started to see some significant growth in some of the plants we are looking at, more specifically in our Woodland Transects. The pine trees are releasing pollen and red maples are starting to have breaking leaf buds. The weather seems to like playing tricks on us considering it starts to rain whenever we need to look up to view the treetops. Drops of water fall on our face and eyes to our dismay, but these are the things we do as a field biologist intern. We are particularly proud of the growth of the violets as we barely saw any when we first viewed them. Now, they are everywhere along this small stream area. We also gave them a try as they are edible. The violet does taste almost like a leafy green; but it also has a distinct taste that tells you it is not actually a leafy green. As we wrapped up for the day, we decided to take a trip over to Dry Pond. Our guess for its name was “this is a pond that frequently dries up” but its real meaning is this is a manmade pond. This used to be a field that was flooded by the opening/ breaking of a dam. Here we discovered a fungus on a tree that was bright orange in color named Cedar Apple Rust. I personally did not want to go near it as it made my skin itch, but it was very interesting to view. It is also time to start working on presentations. It is very exciting and sad to know my time here is coming to an end, yet I’m thankful for being able to have this opportunity.

Journal Entry #7
March 15, 2024

This week we were back at the creek collecting samples with guests from the South Carolina Department of Environmental Health and Control (SCDHEC) and Newberry College. They gave us an understanding of the things they do on a day-to-day basis and how they navigated the environmental science field to find a career. The professor from Newberry gave us an understanding of the project he was doing involving flora along Thompson Creek. He also shared a little bit about his background as a botanist. Before we got started in the field, we talked about the air quality warning due to the prescribed burning. The weather was gloomy at first with a little drizzle. It eventually got warmer, and the sun came out a little more. Our guests from DHEC helped us collect samples and showed us new techniques when it came to how we collected the samples. One of our guests were able to help us identify some of the larva we found. He said that we have collected: entirely too many Black Flies in addition to Midges, Small Minnow Mayflies, Flat-Headed Mayflies, Cannes Mayflies, Stonefly, Riffle Bettles, juvenile Crayfish, Corbicula Clams, aquatic worms, two types of Caddisflies, Dragonfly, and Cranefly larva. At Kayak Pull Out, we were lucky enough to find an adult Crayfish which we released back into the water. It was very aggressive and pinched one of my colleagues. We usually find more to collect here but this time was different. There were not as many specimens to be collected. We also were running short on time, so we were only able to run it twice instead of the normal three. Due to the weather and our guests, I enjoyed myself immensely. It was great to be around people who are very knowledgeable about their findings and in their element. I felt very inspired to want to do something similar to what they do and make sure it is something I love. Seeing them actually enjoy themselves and not make it feel like a job or obligation was amazing. I am excited to see what else is in store for us and myself!

Journal #6
March 1, 2024

This week we were blessed by the good Lord with rain. Many of our shoes slipped through the mud and I hated it. I headed back to campus with cold fingers and a runny nose that day. It was a very unfortunate cold and rainy day for us, but a very fortunate one for the plants we are observing. The group voted to walk in the rain, so we parked the Kubota and walked to our transects. Walking in the rain came with its benefits, as we saw things in bloom that we would have never noticed zooming by. As we came up to our first site, Fireworks Prairie, I came prepared to be stuck with Blackberry thorns only to notice that the path was a little clearer than usual. We noted the same observations as last time because nothing changed much. Just more plant growth but no fruits or seeds aside from those present from last season, like on our Goldenrod. Nothing too alarming was noticed except our realization that one of the plants that had been chewed on seemed to have made a recovery! At the second site, the Upland Hardwood Forest, about the same amount of change was reported. The thing we had noticed is that the Blue Violets we had been looking at finally decided to bloom. We discovered a bunch of them along the area where a small stream ran through the forest. We were very excited to see them as we had originally thought nothing had changed. We also discovered many old, hollowed-out tree stumps that had many tunnels in them. We even found some holes that could potentially be exit holes in case the animals using them needed to escape. We were told they would make a good snake hideout. I cannot wait to see what the next creek week holds for us.

Journal #5
February 23, 2024

This week was interesting as this is the first time we have been collecting data since it rained. The weather was slightly better than when we were in the creek the first time, but we came prepared with extra socks and pants layers. I, unfortunately, was not prepared enough. It was chilly but not as cold as before while in the water. We observed that it was very muddy and slippery at both Kayak Put In and Kayak Put Out. The water level was also higher than before, but the flow of the water was not as strong. This allowed for fewer slip-ups while navigating the water. There was not much to find at Kayak Put-In this week. We found about the same things as the first time, but we did notice there has been some development in the larvae we found. I found another huge rock with a lot of tiny larvae on it similar to the rock I found two weeks ago with larvae on it.  When observing the things we found under a microscope we discovered that there were a lot of Black Fly larvae. This is not good as they are very harmful to the environment and humans. We also learned that we have an invasive species of clam on the property as well. I believe they are called Asian Clams possibly brought to North America as a food source. Kayak Pull Out is always the site where we find interesting things. The larvae are usually larger here but this week we found a lot of smaller larvae. We also happened to find leeches and they began to suck on a larva we had in the bottle which we found interesting. We also found bigger versions of the little red worms we have found. I think that they are blood worms, aka Midge Fly Larvae.

Journal #4
February 16, 2024

On the farm this week, we walked around the property to look at our transects. It was fairly cold outside on this day as my nose felt ice cold. I only thought about how excited I was to reach the warmth of my car after viewing the plants. Before we started, we viewed the creek to see how much an inch of rain can affect it. The water came up fairly high as no large rocks were visible and would be unavailable for us to use if needed. At our first site, we noticed a few plants still had last season growth on them but are starting to show new growth. The prickly Blackberry plants found there kept ahold of my tights and occasionally picked me. One thorn stayed along for the ride and stuck with me for some time. At the second site, our Red Maple tree had some open flower buds and flower buds starting to open. It was decided that a few plants should be added to the transect as we discovered some significant growth when observing them including Common Blue Violets which should bloom soon. When we finished up, we made our way back to the learning center slowly but surely, making stops along the way. We looked at the “Danger” bridge as others have decided to call it. The view from there was amazing. The sounds of the water rushing gave everyone a sense of calmness and relaxation. We were fortunate enough to learn a little history behind the bridge and how log trucks could not use the bridge to cross. Next, we went to Inspiration Rock. It was also beautiful there as we learned the history behind it as well as a story about the graveyard above the bluff. Overall, we had a great productive day on the farm.

Journal #3
February 9, 2024

This week we had the opportunity to go down to the stream and sample the water for macroinvertebrates which was very exciting for me. The day was rather chilly and gloomy overall, so the water was ice cold. I felt cold despite wearing waders, thick socks, and a hoodie. As we made our way down into both sites, we came across deer tracks along the edges of the water. The first thing we did at both sites was determine how clear the water was using a specific tool that had a black and white disk at the bottom. We filled it up bit by bit and stopped to see if the disk could still be seen. This helped us to have an understanding about turbidity, which is the amount of sediment flowing in the water. The water came up to be clear when tested at both sites. At site one, we managed to get a water average of 58.83 cm. At Site Two, we were able to get 60 cm all three times the water was tested. We used a Kick Net and a D-Net to collect some of the macroinvertebrates that were located in the water by disturbing the sediment, but in different ways. With the Kick Net, someone had to hold it on one end with rocks weighing it down on the other side facing the flow of the current. Another person had to go out ~3 ft and kick up the sediment at the bottom so it could flow toward the net to be collected. Site One proved to have all the smaller insects and other specimens. Site Two had bigger larvae as well as a crayfish that was already dead. It also proved to be the better site when it came to collecting overall. There was better diversity among what was found and there was also a larger quantity. The D-Net was only used at Site One for time purposes. The net itself was flat on one side which made it easier to scrape up the sediments and rocks. The last thing we did as we wrapped up sampling at both sites was to take the temperature, dissolved oxygen, and pH of the water. The averages at Site One for them in that order was 10 ℃, 28.94 dissolved O2, and 9.6 pH. The averages for site 2 were 9.42 ℃, 10.1 dissolved 02, and 8.9 pH.

Journal #2
February 2, 2024

Unfortunately, this week I had to miss out on the interesting things the group got to do as I was out of town. The temperature was 72 degrees F and very sunny where I was in Florida. The plant life is very different from what we see in SC. The area had palm trees which I consider to be odd because it is very rare that I see one. I also got to see some mallard ducks while I was gone. It seemed to be a pair who were enjoying sunbathing in each other’s company. Not too far away from them were a flock of birds that are unknown to me. They resembled a smaller version of a heron with their long legs but considerably smaller. If I had to take a wild guess, I would say they could be Egrets. While I was out getting a bite to eat, the place I chose to sit just happened to have a lot of what I only knew as some type of black bird. After further research, I discovered that these birds [who were fighting over human food and cawing very loudly] were called Boat Tailed Grackles. There were bodies of water everywhere we went and they ranged in sizes and colors. Some had a deep dark blue, others had a green-ish tint to them, and a small few had a beautiful light blue color. I also got to see different places from a plane view, and it put some things in perspective for me. Places look so different yet the same when it comes to things like housing and car traffic. Earth is really a beautiful place, and some people never understand how important it is to preserve it. I enjoyed seeing the thick patches of trees and a water basin that empties out into the Atlantic Ocean. We always hear about things like that but most of us never really get to see and apply what knowledge we have acquired about these topics. The air was crisp, but I think I may have gotten sick due to a slight change in climate. I felt happy to be in a place that had a lot of nature where there are buildings.

Journal #1
January 26, 2024

Upon arriving at the address provided, I was greeted at my car by what I would consider a pack of dogs. They were all different in looks, personality, and fluffiness. I headed into the educational center where David greeted me and introduced me to everyone I would be interacting with during my time here at Southern 8ths. After introductions and a brief background on what we will be doing, we finally were able to head out into the field. The weather that day was the opposite of what was projected.

It was a fairly warm day and cloudy. The ground was soggy from the previous rainfall so there was mud everywhere, unfortunately. We first went to visit the river and observed how the river had been higher than usual, again due to the rainfall. After, we hopped into the Kubotas to go to the other access point of the river where we got to see how the river being high can affect the land around it. I noticed there was a tree that had all the dirt removed from under it so you saw its roots. It looked like it was barely hanging on to the edge of the land. Then, we traveled to see other parts of the farm. There were a lot of open fields, but one hill especially stood out because it was a Native American settlement area. Something else worth mentioning is that there were beautiful art pieces made from fallen trees which were very interesting to look at. This was all very exciting for me and made me ready to start to do things.