West Virginia University biologists, Lincoln Oliver and Joe Girgente were doing field work in Pocahontas County last week. Girgente, with his large butterfly net, was trying to identify our county’s 38 documented species of damselflies and dragonflies. “Because there just aren’t that many people looking for various species of them, I’m sure that there are actually many more species of damselflies and dragonflies waiting to be identified,” Girgente said.
Oliver was researching a response to a study about two declining songbirds – the Cerulean and the Golden-Winged Warbler – by NRCS conservation projects on private properties in West Virginia. Natural Resources Conservation Service, formerly known as Soil Conservation Service, is an agency of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA).
“Of all the areas that we survey throughout the state, Pocahontas County is definitely my favorite,” Oliver said. “Pocahontas County is home to some unique high-elevation plants and animals found nowhere else in the region. The vast expanses of public land provide ample opportunities for birders, photographers and wildlife enthusiasts to see bird species and other wildlife that they rarely see otherwise. Surveying here is important for my research because it’s the only area where I reliably find the rarer of my two focal species, the Golden-winged Warbler (see photo). The friendly people, small towns, history, recreational opportunities, and the wildlife combine to make it such a special place.”
Oliver is a master’s student in Wildlife and Fisheries Resources and Girgente is a wildlife technician.