Z dam
When I was a child the James River and its tributaries between Bosher’s dam and Williams Island was my playground.
Hugenot Bridge
I walked east along the south bank of the James River last week. The City of Richmond has done a commendable job providing trails and access. The river is now enjoyed by many.
stinging nettle
In the 60’s there were few trails. We’d bush whack through stands of this (Laportea canadensis?) taller than we were.

two parent household Branta canadensis

geese and goslings

During the second year of their lives, Canada geese find a mate. They are monogamous, and most couples stay together all of their lives. If one dies, the other may find a new mate. The female lays from two to nine eggs with an average of five, and both parents protect the nest while the eggs incubate, but the female spends more time at the nest than the male.–Wikipedia

These geese have gone native, they no longer migrate.

Maladera castanea

picking them off by hand
Maladera castanea (the asiatic garden beetle) flies and eats at night.
AGBs belong to the order Coleoptera. The order contains more species than any other order, constituting almost 25% of all known life-forms.
I am having a yearly run in with these insects. They function like a self reproducing electric utility. They top trees, preferentially feeding on new growth at the top of trees: “the terminal leader”.
The AGB is a major drag on my afforestation effort. The establishment of a forest or stand of trees in an area where there hasn’t been forest for centuries is a challenge. All the complexity has been removed, roots, biomass, beneficial fungi, and that has created a zone that is remarkably hostile to young trees, a fragile system.
Complexity is good in natural systems. When people farm, the complex system is removed. The dirt remains, to be used as a media for the desired plant making chemicals to promote growth and chemicals to control insects necessary.

Pinus palustris

pinus palustris grass stage
Before European settlement, longleaf pine forest dominated as much as 90,000,000 acres stretching from Virginia south to Florida and west to eastern Texas. That range has been vastly reduced. These are not popular trees with pine plantation folk. This form is called the grass stage. During this stage, which lasts for 5–12 years, vertical growth is very slow, and the tree may take a number of years simply to grow ankle-high.
Longleaf pine takes 100 to 150 years to become full size and may live to be 500 years old. When young, they grow a long taproot, which usually is 2–3 m (6.6–9.8 ft) long; by maturity they have a wide spreading lateral root system with several deep ‘sinker’ roots.–Wikipedia

Herbivores above and below. Last year grackles killed ten of these trees from above. This year I am struggling with the underground herbivores.
Herbivores above and below. Last year grackles killed ten of these trees from above. This year I am struggling with the underground denizens. Voles dig under plants, eat the roots until the plant falls over. I make 1′ diameter rat wire collars, buried at ground level. That way the voles have to work harder for their food.

rat wire in situ
This is a photo in process. Different plant, same species. Three hours after this photo was taken a mole tunnel appeared. Moles are carnivores. Earthworms a major part of their diet. The mole bumped into the wire. My theory is that voles opportunistically run mole tunnels. Just a theory…