James Pittman


This was our last time visiting the kayak put- in and take-out locations, and the last time we will be going out into the field to do research. It will feel weird not showing up to Southern Eights and examining the transects or trying to collect samples in the streams. We were able to find quite a few samples on our last day, one of them being a crustacean. The oxygen levels were much lower this time around than any of the previous recordings, being between 9-10 mg/L, usually they were from 70-90. After a long day of sampling, we went to a spot that had a scenic view, which overlooked most of the woods of the property. Then we got to identifying our samples, we were again unable to find out all of their identities, we will have to meet with Dr. Niland to verify our findings.


It was unfortunate that this week was the last time that we would work in the prairies, it was fun observing how it changed overtime. It will feel strange not visiting there on a bi-weekly basis. It was interesting to see how the fish physiologist from Winthrop University, Dr. Blair, and his students collected samples with their nets. Their research in some way correlates with ours in the streams; the invertebrates are a food source for many of the fishes. On our way to Fireworks Prairie, we fed the goats, which was a bit different than usual, but it was fun to see how they coexisted with one of the Great Pyrenees dogs, and how it sort of was their protector. We visited Otter Pond later in the day, but no Otters, or Beavers were seen. There was fresh scat, so there are signs of life, we must have just missed it.


When we arrived at the property, we were gifted t-shirts, and we dyed them using Black Walnuts harvested from the prior week; they were left in a boiling pot so that the dye would color the shirts while we were collecting data. The kayak put-in and kayak take-out locations yielded more samples than any of us would have guessed, we even found a small clam. The pH and oxygen levels were slightly higher than prior weeks, but things seemed more or less consistent. The water level of the kayak put-in was much lower than last time, it was also much narrower. At the kayak take-out location we caught several fish, which is pretty typical, and the water level was about the same as last time. After collecting samples and data, we returned to dry out the shirts, and the process created neat designs for each of the shirts made; I was interested in learning how natural dyes are used and the industries that are popping up as of late. We then began identifying the specimens we had collected, but since Dr. Niland was not able to attend, we could not identify some of the species, and the ones we had logged will need to be checked over by her to ensure that we provide proper information. It felt a bit disappointing that we couldn’t identify most of what we collected, but at least we found life in the stream.


Friday the sixth at Southern Eights was a very memorable day. Our group was accompanied by two additional people, April, a student from a university in South Carolina, and Brad’s son, Blake, who came in from Connecticut. We first went to the Fireworks Prairie location and began surveying the plants there, but just before that we were able to pilot the drone Brianna uses to help her in acquiring data on the prairies. Many of the spring/summer plants in the field are beginning to die off, and the fall/winter plants are taking over. Camphorweed and Goldenrod are dominating the area, especially the former; its flowers are in full bloom and is easily the most prevalent plant along the transect. Once our data was collected, we then went to the Upland Hardwood Forest site, where some of the trees were beginning to show reds and yellows in their leaves, starting more than two weeks ago, but many are still mostly green. With plenty of time remaining, we were able to visit a section of the property where Black Walnuts were growing and picked dozens of them from the trees and ground; they make great natural dyes and food, though it can be time consuming to get to the center of each nut. We were then able to visit another section that had pine trees cut down, it was interesting to hear about the processes and economics of wood, mainly being that the needles of the pines were the most profitable part of the tree. We got to visit a part of the property christened “Turtle Pond”; there weren’t any turtles present, but there was a large hornet’s hive inside a Wood Duck nesting box. On our way back, we stopped by a Persimmon Tree and ate its fruit. The flavor was nice, though there is a coarse texture on your teeth once you take a bite from the skin. Finally, we witnessed up close two Bobwhite Quail flying away from our group, it felt like a safari looking into the field from the vehicle, then seeing the two majestic birds take wing. Overall, I am very happy with how that day played out, I had several first time experiences that I think I will remember for years.


I found it very interesting to learn about Hugh H. Bennett, and how political conservation as we know it today in America started in Anson County, mere miles away from the University and Southern Eighths. After learning about conservational history, we were able to head towards the Kayak Put-in and Pull-out locations, at the Kayak Put-in, two salamanders and a frog were spotted, as well as several small fish; few macroinvertebrates were found there, likely due to lower water levels. The Kayak Pull-out location also yielded very few invertebrates, but it was comparable to when we were out there two weeks ago. A Black Rat Snake was spotted at the Kayak Pull-out location, it must have been around six feet in length, this is a sign that rodents and other prey items are present around the stream, either that or the snake came by for a drink. Of the macroinvertebrates we found, many of them were pollutant-resistant, such as beetle larva, which could be a cause of concern, but since amphibians were present at the stream, the water should be relatively healthy. It felt somewhat taxing to try and identify all of the samples we collected, but it seems we made good progress, and soon enough identification will become easier with experience.


On the Friday of September 22nd, we were able to see the progress of time as we inspected plants that had been marked exactly two weeks ago. Some interesting observations that we found were that Goldenrod and Camphorweed had become more abundant and dominant in the prairie. Another interesting observation was in the case of two Indian Grass specimens within the Quadrat. These specimens were no more than two dozen feet apart yet displayed a difference in their development; one Indian Grass had flowered and was actively releasing pollen, while the other hadn’t yet done so. This could be due to their location, or maybe it’s just that the first to bloom comes from a line of ancestors who would pollinate early to gain an advantage, or perhaps it’s the opposite reason, and the late blooming plant is in a more favorable position. Then we went into the woods to inspect the Upland Hardwood Forest quadrat. There was not much of a change that I was able to observe, but on the way there, I was able to witness several Harvestmen scurrying along the floor of the woods. After that was done, we went to the area of the property where the pine trees were recently cut down. It was interesting to learn about how the owner of the property had ensured the conservation and wellbeing of other native trees and strives for more diversity. Before we left, we got to witness a wasp of some sort dragging around a spider it had preyed upon.


I really enjoyed what we did at Southern Eights on Friday the 15th. Firstly, we got to head into the stream with waders. Once at the stream sampling location, we collected data on turbidity, oxygen levels, and pH in the water. Then we began collecting organisms kicknets and D-nets. We caught a salamander among the fish and invertebrates, which was my first time seeing one in the wild. A few other creatures we found included a leech, a few striders, worms, and what appeared to be a beetle larva. We collected the samples in bottles to identify them later in the lab. The weather was much milder compared to the other two times at the property, I am hopeful it doesn’t get too cold while we are collecting data in the coming months. As I was driving home, I got to see a flock of wild turkeys on the side of the road, which was quite a sight to behold.


When I first arrived on that Friday, Brad, the owner of the property described to us three important things, always ask questions, the best way to learn is to ask; have a story, stories reach people, and reaching people is the best way to make them care about something; attitude, be bold and optimistic, that’s how to leave an impression on someone. After his introduction, we parted ways and went into the fields and chose plants to survey: Bluestem Grass, Indian Grass, Goldenrod, and a few others. We went to the forest and did the same, observing a few oak trees, and some sweetgum trees. We witnessed wild turkey and deer while we were out, I have never seen a turkey in the wild before that point, which was a pretty unique experience. I am excited for next Friday when we can observe any changes since we were last there.


My first day at Southern Eighths was quite an experience. On my way to the property, I was able to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of the place, completely empty roads that left me along with nature and my thoughts. Upon arriving, I was able to learn about the rich history of the Southern Eighths; my main interest was how Sherman’s total war doctrine affected the area, destroying much of the county during the civil war. After viewing the landmarks, my peers and I were able to tour the fields and forests that we will soon be surveying. Along the path, we witnessed deer running adjacent to us; a sight which is becoming a rarity due to habitat loss. I was also able to learn about some of the tree species of the area, as well as how the prairies are maintained. After the day was finished, I felt very grateful to be able to have this experience.