Thursday, June 17, 2010

Although I haven't yet caught up on sleep, I've at least dried out after a weekend of thunderstorms, ponds and boating on Block Island as part of the 2010 Bioblitz. About 200 people ferried over to document as many species as could be found on the northern half of the island.  And what a half it was.  Below is the field (click to enlarge photos) where we were to pitch our tent, as soon as Mr. Lapham — part of the family that acquired the property in the 50s and 60s then donated most of it to the Nature Conservancy — kindly finished mowing it for the anticipated tent city.

Since Mary and I had taken the earliest ferry (not that we were too anxious to get there or anything) we were the first to claim our spot. Then, since I was the only one who could manage the standard transmission of the ancient Dodge pickup, I was drafted to drive it into town to pick up two loads of folding chairs from the Abrams farm, home of llamas, emus, goats and even a camel. After navigating the boxy, creaky truck over the bumpy gravel access-road to the Clay Head trail, loading and unloading 80 chairs, we felt we had earned a reward with lunch and beer at the Oar in New Harbor.

Then it was back to our spot to pitch our tent. By then others were arriving and setting up. A surprising number had also just purchased their tents for this event, so I didn't feel like such a newbie and was able to check out other brands I had looked at online. I decided I was very happy with the one I picked, isn't it pretty?

Then it was off to explore a bit and check out the view from the bluff trail. We met up with Roberto Bessin, sculptor of beautiful, monumental and ethereal bird sculptures and we all hopped on a shuttle heading for dinner in town before the scheduled lecture by Providence Journal environmental writer Peter Lord, who wrote the Journal's award-winning report on how open space was preserved on Block Island. (Full disclosure: I worked with Peter on putting this piece together for the web.)

By the time we took the shuttle back to the campground everyone seemed ready to turn in, so after checking out the amazing stars from the bluff, we zipped up the tent and tried to get some sleep.

We woke to an overcast day. Mary went on the geology walk, but I decided to take a trail down to a pond and set up my easel. The disappointing result of 2 hours of painting might have survived to be judged back in the studio, but there were just too many witnesses who might ask to see it, so I wiped it off.  It was nice to spend some time on the quiet trail though, just me and the birds.

Back at Science Central we spent some time talking with the other artists until noon. None of us seemed to know exactly what we were going to do but all were excited to be the first artists take part. When the noon siren signaled the start of the 24-hour Bioblitz, it was off to look for frogs. The Lapham property is dotted with kettleholes, surrounded by dense vegetation, which seemed the perfect environment for the little guys. The dense vegetation proved not so perfect for us though, since there were few spots where we could access the mucky shore. But we managed to find a frog in Monument Pond, which our team leader Mandy swabbed as part of a project documenting frog diseases. By now persistent drizzle was falling, so after checking out a few more ponds where we heard bullfrogs, smugly out of reach, we headed back to Science Central. 

There we found that someone else had more luck. We were greeted by container filled with these funny faces. If they look like little kids, it's because they still have their tadpole tails.

By now the rain was coming down hard, but cleared in time for us to stand in line for some great food, socializing, and checking out specimens. The 20 or so artists gathered around a table to share our backgrounds and a bottle of wine, after which we climbed a small hill to check out the bat trap. No bats fell for it, but I was happy to find I could still catch fireflies.

Although cozy on my air mattress, I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before, so I was looking forward to a good night's sleep in my little green tent. It was not to be.... (to be cont.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

I value your comments, please let me know what you think!

Related Posts with Thumbnails