Wednesday, August 5, 2009

End of July 2009

There has been a lot of activity around the park the past few weeks. But first I wanted say that I failed to mention in the last entry that we had a fifth crane species visit the park in late June – one Eurasian crane was spotted among a small flock of hooded cranes. It was only seen that morning and has not been spotted since. During the month of July we have had a lot of visitors and researchers visit the park. In particular, there were three hydrology students and one tourism student from Universities in Moscow as well as a PhD student studying waterfowl from Bristol University. In addition to people visiting the park – the park sent several representatives to a summer camp for children living in social shelters. This camp is located approximately five hours north of the park and provides an opportunity for these children to spend the summer in nature. Every year Muraviovka Park sends staff to teach children about the nature and ecosystems of Russian and about the importance of conservation.

In mid-July there was explosion of edible goodies in every inch of the park – currants, raspberries, bird cherries, and mushrooms to name a few. Everyone at the park has spend a little time gathering these treats and adding them to our meals….

The omnipresent rain of June has transformed the wetlands from its earlier state of dryness in April and June. Areas that were burned in early spring are now filled with tall grass and water is nearly waist high in some parts…

The wildflowers are still persisting in the wetlands, although they are not at their full glory like the month of June. There are however, two orchids that bloom in mid-July.

One of these orchids is unbelievably tiny and almost overlooked.

It is also hard not to notice that Mid-June is the season of love for many of the insect species. The air was filled with butterflies and dragonflies engaged in coitus.

At the headquarters, the swallows nesting at the house have successfully hatched out their four eggs and the chicks have been growing at an amazing rate. I think that within the next several days we will see them leave the nest!!

Another amazing spectacle at the house occurs each evening when millions of insects flock to the porch light. Although the light may be on for less then an hour, it attracts hundreds of species. Many of these moths are so exquisitely beautiful that you may spend hours just looking at the different colors and body shapes.

The work with the small mammals have also identified two new species that reside on the property – the reed vole and Innokov’s bat.

One of the most photographed and distinctive features of Muraviovka Park is Lake Kapustikha. It is easily visible from the headquarters.

But we recently purchased a new piece of equipment – a small inflatable boat – that has allowed us to experience the lake from a whole new perspective. The main purpose of the boat is to enable the hydrology students to conduct research about the lake. But the boat also allows us to get close to otherwise elusive wildlife and hard to see water plants.

Inevitably, the month of July has showed yet another marvelously beautiful and wild side of the park –

But all the beauty does come with a price – A very abundant price at that!!!

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