I have always enjoyed going to the Piedmont. Every year has been a different experience for me. For example, I remember clearing the vernal pool my freshman year and experience the sweat lodge for the first time last year. This year, it was a bit relaxed (partly, much to my surprise, because not a lot of people came). We helped Prof. Wood cook dinner, and the food was delicious as always. We even had a chance to drink tea and eat pumpkin pie afterwards, while he talked a bit about the Native American cleansing ceremony before entering the sweat lodge.
We got up early the next morning so that we could observe the birds by the lake. We were able to hear a bunch of crows from far away and Prof. Tom told us that they were apparently mobbing an owl as it was about to go to sleep. Also, he fed the Trumpeter Swans before he grabbed binoculars for us to use at the lake. I thought it was interesting to see the Ring-Tailed Ducks, which migrated from Canada and were settling down for a bit. We even saw a beaver!
We still ended up clearing invasive species by the road but I did not expect doing the entire roadway. It was still a great morning exercise though. Unfortunately, Prof. Tom was not able to us during that time because he had to go somewhere. Instead, we had Dr. Francisco from the Smithsonian to show us what we needed to do.
Overall, I enjoyed my trip. Although it was brief, the annual trip to the Piedmont always reminds me of how detrimental invasive species are to the natural environment. It was also a great way for me to bond with my floor mates and de-stress a little bit. I always recommend this trip to anyone since every experience is different. Thank you to Tom Wood for always welcoming us into his Little Pink House on Warrenton!