IBCM IV - Oregon Zoo
It's hard to believe that it has been a full year since the series of Imperiled Butterfly Conservation and Management workshops began in Toledo. I've just returned a couple of weeks ago from the fourth installment at the Oregon Zoo in Portland.
Feeding LarvaeWe're already pretty familiar with the butterfly conservation lab at the Oregon Zoo. Vincent and I visited a couple of years ago for some really great training from these folks. Since then our butterfly rearing has been far more successful. These scenes are very familiar to us. The first day of the conference involved lectures and a tour of the zoo. Sadly, I was not able to reconnect with my best penguin friend in the world.
Days two and three of the conference involved field trips. (Yay!! always the best part!) We visited one of the few remaining sites for Taylor's Checkerspot. After hearing about how awful the spring weather has been in the Pacific Northwest, we were thrilled to have a beautiful sunny day for our visit. I was a bit surprised at the site. In Illinois, very rare butterfly species are almost invariably found on sites with high-quality native vegetation communities. This site was dominated by an invasive grass and ox-eye daisy, a Eurasian plant.
In the afternoon, conference organizers put us to work. We visited a salt-spray meadow, home to the federally endangered Oregon Silverspot. Conference participants helped release silverspot larvae and planted both host plants (violets) and a variety of nectar-producing plants to support the butterfly.
We spent the second night of the conference in Newport, a beach town on the Oregon coast. We had some free time late in the afternoon. I was excited to go down to the dunes to try to photograph the Pacific Coast Tiger Beetle. Unfortunately, the weather got cool and foggy. I was pleasantly surprised to find and photograph a single Oregon Tiger Beetle. Tony found a freshly-dead Pacific Coast Tiger Beetle, but , unfortunately, that was the only one that we saw.
Dinner was at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. It was a nice surprise. I had not heard of it, and it's a delightful aquarium. I recommend it. I especially enjoyed the numerous tanks of jellies that they displayed. The evening's lecture as by Scott Hoffman Black, CEO of the Xerces Society.
Thursday involved a visit to NRCS, the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Eugene. This is a totally cool place. They grow all kinds of plants for conservation and restoration purposes, and they do it on an agricultural scale. They had all kinds of really cool farm equipment that had been modified to harvest seed from plants that are not agricultural crops. I was especially impressed with their arrangement for large-scale cultivation of violets for seed production. We could really use something like that here in Illinois.
After lunch, we proceeded to a site where Fender's Blue, another endangered species, is being managed. Here again, I was surprised at the dominance of non-native plant species like tall oat grass, ox-eye daisy, and cow vetch.
By this time, the participants were getting a bit giddy. Brian did an imitation of the Green Man. Tony, from the Henry Doerly Zoo in Omaha, did his usual death-defying number by handling a velvet ant. Velvet ants are wingless wasps with a potent sting that gives them the nickname "cow killers."
Since the crew obviously needed a bit of calming down, we had dinner at the brew pub at the Grand Lodge Hotel. The dinner speaker was Robert Pyle, author of many books including the Audubon Field Guide to Butterflies of North America. He autographed his book The Butterflies of Cascadia.
The next, and final, installment of IBCM isn't until June 2011. We're hosting at The Nature Museum, and the bar has been set pretty high. I'm looking forward to it.