Friday, July 10, 2015

Invaders of the roadsides and roads

The roadside by the Carlos Avery pools along Chisago County Highway 36 is littered with goose feathers and droppings. (Slightly east of the bridge, the roadside is sometimes littered with a Wyoming police department speed trap.) Midday today, unlike some other days but the same as many, there were no geese or ducks in sight. I had been hoping for an opportunity to take some close-up photos of this year's goslings. Not today. I mostly settled for pictures of roadside vegetation in bloom.

roadside geese
roadside geese
Photo by J. Harrington

Crown vetch is in flower everywhere I look. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources [MNDNR] lists it as an invasive. The Minnesota Department of Transportation [MNDOT] classifies it as a "nonnative plant" and notes "while these plants may be aggressive on some sites, management is usually not a high priority." I think it would be helpful if public entities were required to provide definitive lists of plants to be eradicated, rather than the multi-jurisdictional hodge-podge we have. Another example is the Canada thistle, which I think is blossoming next to the crown vetch along Chisago Highway 36 near the bridge. MNDOT lists Canada thistle as a "Prohibited: Control" species. There's also a link in the MNDOT listing to a Board of Water & Soil Resources [BWSR] Minnesota Thistles Identification Guide. Here's a separate link to BWSR's resource page on Native Vegetation. Full disclosure, this is the first time I've come across this resource. I'm thinking I may need to create a resource on resources for Minnesota's indigenous and/or invasive species.

Crown vetch or axseed (Coronilla varia)
Photo by J. Harrington

Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense)
Photo by J. Harrington

Now, as you may have suspected, I've saved the best until last. Driving back to the house, I came across a Blanding's Turtle that was either sunning itself or returning from egg-laying or both. Since I wasn't sure it wasn't just soaking up some warmth, I didn't move it across the road for safety sake. I'll check later today or tomorrow to see if there's reason to regret that decision. (I'm mildly encouraged since last year I saw some folks intentionally drive around a large snapping turtle crossing a nearby road.) Since I hadn't read the briefing that Blanding's aren't prone to bite, and I didn't have work gloves, I also didn't turn it over to check for the gender characteristics. I'll try to remember both gloves and information in the future.

Emydoidea blandingii (Holbrook, 1838)
Blanding's Turtle

Photo by J. Harrington

The Adventures of a Turtle

By Russell Edson 

The turtle carries his house on his back. He is both the house and the person of that house.
         But actually, under the shell is a little room where the true turtle, wearing long underwear, sits at a little table. At one end of the room a series of levers sticks out of slots in the floor, like the controls of a steam shovel. It is with these that the turtle controls the legs of his house.
         Most of the time the turtle sits under the sloping ceiling of his turtle room reading catalogues at the little table where a candle burns. He leans on one elbow, and then the other. He crosses one leg, and then the other. Finally he yawns and buries his head in his arms and sleeps.
         If he feels a child picking up his house he quickly douses the candle and runs to the control levers and activates the legs of his house and tries to escape.
         If he cannot escape he retracts the legs and withdraws the so-called head and waits. He knows that children are careless, and that there will come a time when he will be free to move his house to some secluded place, where he will relight his candle, take out his catalogues and read until at last he yawns. Then he’ll bury his head in his arms and sleep....That is, until another child picks up his house....     

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