Denkhaus, Robert wrote:
>Yesterday, I took 21 members of the 2002 class of the Cross Timbers Chapter of
>the Texas Master Naturalists out on the wetland/aquatic systems field trip.
>As usual, we visited a number of sites around the Fort Worth Nature Center &
>Refuge, which contains a long stretch of the West Fork of the Trinity River,
>and a number of backwaters, marshes, and sloughs.
>The Texas Master Naturalist program is designed to train a diverse group of
>amateur naturalists in the intricacies of the local ecology so that they can
>participate in resource management and educational programs in the state.
>Participants range from professionals who would like to learn more about local
>ecology to housewives, bartenders, and retired folks who want to be involved
>in local environmental efforts.
>The local training program, 9 weeks in length, focuses on our local
>environmental systems including forest, prairie and urban systems along with
>the wetland/aquatics habitats. The training for each system includes 2
>classroom sessions and one 6-hour field experience. The Fort Worth Nature
>Center & Refuge sponsors the local (Fort Worth, AKA Cross Timbers) chapter and
>participates in both the North Texas (Dallas) and Elm Fork (Denton) chapters'
>For more information on this exceptional program, which has become a model for
>a number of other states, check out
>Yesterday was a perfect day, weather-wise. Highs were in the mid-80s with
>clear blue skies. Everyone was excited about the upcoming adventure. I had
>tried to set the stage during the classroom sessions so that no one would be
>surprised that this field trip required immersion in the habitat. I had also
>given sufficient warning regarding the various hazards of the trip including
>but not limited to venomous snakes, poison ivy and alligators.
>We started by examining a currently dry vernal pond site to look at wetland
>soil types and dominant wetland vegetation. We then moved to the Lotus Marsh
>where we checked out emergent and submergent vegetation and discussed the
>avian and mammalian residents of aquatic systems. This led to a discussion
>regarding feral hogs since the Lotus Marsh is a hotbed of hog activity and our
>impending control plan just hit the local media last week.
>After a short 4WD adventure, we reached the area that we intended to examine
>in detail. This area, one that I have described a number of times before, is
>immediately downstream from the Eagle Mountain Dam spillway. In the past, I
>have found quite a diverse array of species in this area. Yesterday though,
>the water level was down considerably (we are at the mercy of what Eagle
>Mountain Lake will give us ("dam" them!) and the collecting was not as good as
>usual. I did have the opportunity to introduce the fish neophytes to the
>Longnose Gar (3 feet)
>The fish catch was rather disappointing but we did add some invertebrates to
>the total including:
>Dragonfly nymphs (numerous species)
>Damselfly nymphs (numerous species)
>Predacious diving beetles (numerous species)
>Freshwater mussels (4 species)
>We also saw a number of banded watersnakes, cricket frogs, green tree frogs,
>and southern leopard frogs.
>The highlight (or lowlight, depending on your point of view) of the day came
>at the very end. On Wednesday, 18 September, I had released a 5 feet long
>male alligator that had been given to me by a local zoo/aquarium because it
>had outgrown its relatively small exhibit. Yesterday, a 5' gator was found
>floating just below the surface and somewhat entangled in some submerged
>snags. Both of the right legs had been torn off cleanly. It appeared that
>the limbs had been twisted off at the joint. Closer inspection showed tooth
>puncture marks across the skull and another set of punctures across the
>shoulder area of the back. It appears that the released gator met up with a
>resident male of considerably greater size (ballpark - 8' based upon the
>distance between the punctures). No one has seen an 8 footer on the Refuge in
>at least a decade but who knows?
>Anyway, none of the group wanted to go back in the water after the dead gator
>was found so we packed it up and headed back. I'll be doing a necropsy on the
>gator in the next week or so.
>Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
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/"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily
/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
/ This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes Association
/ nanfa_at_aquaria.net. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word
/ subscribe, unsubscribe, or help in the body (not subject) of an email to
/ nanfa-request_at_aquaria.net. For a digest version, send the command to
/ nanfa-digest-request_at_aquaria.net instead.
/ For more information about NANFA, visit our web page, http://www.nanfa.org