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From Missouri Conservationist: Apr 2012

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: Because turkeys nest on the ground, and the young birds can’t fly, do the hens stay on the ground with the young at night?

A: Yes, the hen will roost on the ground at night with the young birds until they are about 2 weeks old. At that point, the poults can fly enough to roost off the ground and the hen will do so as well. As the poults get older and stronger, they’ll all roost higher and higher in a roost tree.

Q: When I’m on my dock at the lake, I see bubbles rising through the water to the surface. First there are just a few, but soon the bubbles are everywhere. They wash into the end of the cove like soapsuds. I don’t see any small fish. What causes this?

A: Bubbles in the water can come from several sources. Through photosynthesis, aquatic plants and algae produce oxygen, which forms bubbles that escape from the living plants and eventually come to the surface. The decay of organic material (wood, dead plants and animals) produces other gases as byproducts, such as carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide. There is decaying material on the lake bottom as well as buried in the sediments below. The movement of fish disturbing the lake bottom can release gas bubbles. The slight movement of your dock when you walk on it may be enough to dislodge gas bubbles from the lake sediments and allow them to float to the surface. The decay of organic materials in the water can lead to some compounds that have an oily texture. The action of waves or water movement on those materials can produce foam, similar to soap suds. This can be seen in lakes as well as in rivers and streams.

Agent Notes

Keep Cleaning Up Missouri

“I DIDN’T KNOW it was litter if you couldn’t see it.” That was a quote from an individual cited by a conservation agent for littering after she had tried to leave a bag of household trash behind a tree on an MDC area.

Conservation agents spend many hours behind binoculars trying to catch those littering our lands and public waterways. We also use surveillance cameras on illegal dumpsites and problem areas. Although catching litterbugs is important, it isn’t the only answer. Education is an important piece of the puzzle.

MDC spends almost $1 million a year to clean litter from conservation areas and other department locations. MoDOT spends more than $5 million each year cleaning litter from Missouri’s roadsides. Litter is expensive! Not only does it cost to clean it up, it decreases property value and deters commerce and tourism.

According to a study by Keep America Beautiful, littering has decreased 64 percent in the last 40 years. That is encouraging. Anti-litter campaigns such as No More Trash! are working. Clean-up efforts by citizen groups such as Missouri Stream Teams have been very successful. So how can we continue this trend?

  • Set an example, use trash and recycling bins, even for the smallest of items (tobacco items are the most littered item on Missouri roadways, 38 percent are cigarette butts).
  • Be prepared, take bags for your trash when you go floating or visit recreational areas.
  • Keep a trash bag in your vehicle.
  • Litter begats litter, leave an area better than you found it. If you see litter, pick it up.
  • Report violators and illegal dump sites to your conservation agent or the appropriate law enforcement agency (see below on how to contact your local conservation agent).
  • April is the annual No MOre Trash! Bash. The event sponsored is by the Missouri departments of Conservation and Transportation as part of their ongoing No
  • MOre Trash! campaign. During the entire month of April, efforts are aimed at getting people to clean up litter across Missouri from roadsides, parks, neighborhoods, rivers and streams. For more information, visit nomoretrash.org.

David Ingram is the conservation agent for Dent County. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional conservation office.

Photo Tip of the Month: Composition

While good equipment is helpful, there are some basic steps you can take to improve your photography, without having to shell out a small fortune. It boils down to composition—what we decide to include in the frame, and where in the frame we put it. Here are a few pointers to better composition:

Fill the Frame. Include only what is important to the image. If you are taking a picture of an animal, and only the animal is important to your photo, fill as much of the space with that animal as possible. However, if you are taking a landscape photo, you will likely want to include a wide area of the scene with a deep depth-of-field so the entire scene is in focus. This is still filling the frame as long as you only include what is important to convey the sense of the landscape you are trying to portray. If it isn’t important to the message of the image, leave it out. Cleaner and simpler is usually better.

Move closer to your subject. This is closely tied to the above pointer and is the simplest thing we can do to improve a lot of our photos.

Have a focal point. Every image needs a strong, sharply focused element to catch the viewer’s attention. In a close-up photo of an animal, it may be the animal’s eyes. In a landscape photo, it may be a flower in the foreground.

Use the “rule of thirds.” Imagine a tick-tack-toe grid placed over your viewfinder. The rule of thirds suggests that, in most instances, the best place to put your focal point is at one of the four intersections of the lines. Notice that the lines do not intersect in the center of the frame.

75th Anniversary of Conservation Photo Contest, Enter Now!

Remember to get out those cameras and search those photo files for your best images that celebrate the natural wonders of Missouri and the 75-year legacy of MDC. A full list of rules and guidelines can be found at mdc.mo.gov/node/16689.

Did You Know?

We help people discover nature.

Fun Events Around the State

  • Find an event near you! MDC offers a wide variety of events across the state to help people of all ages discover more about nature and enjoy the outdoors. Below is just one example in each of our regions. Go online to find more events at mdc.mo.gov/node/252.
  • St. Louis region, Butterfly Gardening With Tom Terrific at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center in Kirkwood, Saturday, April 14, 10-11:30 a.m. Reservations required; please call 314-301-1500.
  • Kansas City and Northwest regions, Trapping Education at Lake City Range in Bucknor, Saturday, May 12, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reservations are required by April 22; please call 314-249-3194.
  • Southwest region, Morels and More: Missouri’s Wild Spring Mushrooms at Springfield Conservation Nature Center, Tuesday, April 17, 7-3 p.m. Registration required by April 17; please call 417-333-4237.
  • Central region, Beginning Fly Fishing from A-Z at Runge Conservation Nature Center in Jefferson City, Thursday, April 19, 5:30-3 p.m. Registration required by April 19; please call 573-524-5544.
  • Ozark region, Dutch Oven Cooking at Twin Pines Conservation Education Center in Winona, Saturday, May 19, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Reservations are required by May 14; please call 573-325-1331.
  • Southeast region, Digital Camera Scavenger Hunt at Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center, Saturday, April 14, 2-4 p.m. Registration required; please call 573-290-5213.
  • Northeast region, Crappie Clinic at MW Boudreaux Memorial Visitor Center at Mark Twain Lake, Saturday, May 12, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reservations required by May 9; please call 440-735-2420 or email Rob.Garver@mdc.mo.gov.

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler