Today is our first full day at the Wilson Botanical Gardens in Las Cruces. Created from pasture lands in the 1960s by Catherine and Robert Wilson, it was transferred to OTS in the 70s and has been one of their three chief stations ever since.
Heavy rains last night shut down the bat team's research, so Alex and Joey and wandering the garden today, learning as much as they can. (Another quiz itomorrow!)
The bird team started the morning with a Rufous-tailed Hummingbird.
The Rufous-tailed Hummingbird is a common hummingbird in the garden, and one that all students are expected to recognize. (Could be on the next quiz!)
The bird team made the usual measurements...
including tail length ...
and tracing the wig to caculate wing area.
The next capture was a Violet Sabrewing, another hummingbird.
This individual had been banded by a team f researchers last year. We'll report our recapture to the station biologist, who will pass on the information to that research team.
Tracing the wing of the Violet Sabrewing.
The long curved bill of the Violet Sabrewing.is adapted to reaching nectar in the flowers of bananas and heliconias.
After lunch Ellen led groups of students through the garden, teaching them how to identify the major families of plants represented there.
Although this is supposed to be the beginning of the dry season, the weather here so far has been classic rainy season, with heavy rains beginng after lunch and continuing through the evening. But that didn't stop the botany tours.
Learning to recognnise members of the Zingerberaceae (gingers) by their pinnately compound leaves.
Consulting the key characters in their field guides.
Bananas are a key family here.
Learning how to recognize heliconias by their leaves...
The small, tubular, yellow flowers poker out of large red modified leaves called "bracts." These are the flowers beloved by the Violet Sabrewing.
When not learning botany, Ashley tracked this female Central American Agouti, a common, large rodent species in the garden. Here she is nursing her young offspring.
Her baby never strayed far from a drainage culvert, which served as an escape hole.
A large wolf spider was an unwelcome uest in the classroom.
Colorful species of tanagers at the feeding station behind the dining hall.