Thursday, June 18, 2015

Aquatic Adventures

If it is flying, flapping or swimming, it is worth chasing, studying and sharing with friends.

Spatterdock Darner
Today we were harassing dragonflies at the Gorman Nature Center in Mansfield, Ohio. For a little pond, the list was amazingly varied!   Eastern Amberwings, Eastern Pondhawks, Dot-tailed White-face, Comet and Green Darners, Slaty and Twelve-spotted Skimmers, and many others- including this amazing Spatterdock Darner! It was a feast for the eyes.

Judy Semroc and Larry Rosche
Two of my favorite guides and dragonfly experts Judy and Larry gave an excellent program and led the field trips.

They do professional outreach for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. The are also the authors of one of the best dragonfly and damselfly guides written in the Eastern U.S.  If you don't have it, you can buy it on-line: just click here.

The bridge at Gorman Nature Center's pond.
If you are interested in learning about Odonates (dragonflies and damselflies), the pond behind Gorman Nature Center is a well-stocked location. You can spend an afternoon and see up to fifteen species!
Our field trip to the pond.
We did plenty of milling around, catching the adult fliers and netting some aquatic life in the form of immature Odonates, water bugs and frog tadpoles galore!

 Judy waded right out into the water to get the best specimens, while Larry identified all the goodies we brought to him on shore.  If you have never ventured into the field with these exceptional leaders, you have been missing out on a lot of fun!

They will be leading part of the Aquatic Adventures for Flora-Quest, Aug. 27-29, 2015  in the Mohican Area.  For those of you in the Cleveland area, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History  is offering a sign-up on line to drive down in the bus from CMNH. Just go to this link to sign up from the CMNH calendar.

Or go directly to the Flora-Quest website to see all our offerings.  If you are interested in plants or natural history, this is the conference for you.  Hotel rooms are limited, so contact me if you need help finding a room.

Hope to see you there, chasing Dragon Hunter dragonflies and Hellbenders!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Swallows? Bank on it in Chagrin.

Ohio has many lovely locations for birding.  Mohican and Shawnee State Forests come to mind, as does the North Coast.  Lake Erie offers countless opportunities to take in a golden sunset and admire a stunning view, all in the name of birding.

The Chagrin River on a lazy day.
Just South-east of Cleveland, the Chagrin River flows north to the lake and meanders through North Chagrin Reservation, one of Cleveland's many parks which make up the The Emerald Necklace.

A river bluff, remains from an earlier geological period.
 The river's water level was down from the previous week when I had visited during a flood stage.  There is no exposed shore when the water was raging over the banks. It was interesting to see the river at both stages.  It is calm in the photos, but just a week before it was an altogether different beast.

Bank Swallow nesting riddles the bluff with holes.
 Scanning the far shore, a cliff rise high above the river.  It is probably a good 120 foot tall, if not more.  Look carefully at the face and you notice the Swiss cheese effect of bank nesting birds.  There is a huge colony present of the highly social Bank Swallows, Riparia riparia.  Special thanks goes out to Dale Gaul for alerting me to this nesting colony.

Bank Swallows tended their nests and socialized along the bluff face.

For video of Bank Swallows go here.  This video shows the interactions of the Bank Swallow colony.  It was a joy to see Bank Swallows in a natural (vs. man-created) habitat.  Watch carefully for the bank swallow hole (mid-screen left)  where excavated sand comes flying out of the nesting cavity!

To read more about Ohio's Bank Swallows- This is from a past blog which features the Bank Swallows utilizing the screenings or tailing piles, the name for the by-product from quarrying operations, at the Marblehead limestone quarry.

The river walk at Chagrin Falls
Chagrin Falls, Ohio is a charming town with lovely shops and cafes. It was fun to visit this nearby city after our birding adventure, knowing the best- kept secret in Ohio.  Bank Swallows rule their nearby river bluffs.

I could hardly contain myself!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Report from Kirtland Bird Club

It was my great honor to do a program in Cleveland for  The Kirtland Bird Club last night.

The Kirtland Bird Club is one of Ohio's oldest and most prestigious bird/ science groups.  It was named after the Dr. Jared Kirtland who in 1852 collected and identified the very first specimen of Kirtland's Warbler on his farm near Cleveland, Ohio. It was many years before biologists found the birds nesting in 1903 in northern lower Michigan.  This is a bird of concern which has been long studied, and recently, conservation efforts have possibly prevented its pending extinction. You can read about the bird, here.

The bird club was named in honor of Dr. Kirtland and their website gives the following history:
The Kirtland Bird Club (KBC) was formed on September 28, 1940 and has a long tradition of quality contributions to the Northeast Ohio Birding community. In its early years the club conducted monthly meetings, field trips, breeding bird population studies, Christmas bird counts, and wintering duck population studies. The objectives of the KBC are serious study of ornithology with a view to increase the knowledge of individual members, the exchange of ornithological experiences and records, the compilation and publication of important information on birds, and the promotion of good fellowship among its members. 
Out-going Kirtland Bird Club President Lukas Padegimas 
 It was Lukas Padegimas' last night as President.  This fine young man is busy attending school at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, but I am certain he will remain active in the birding community as well.

A nice crowd filtered in...
 As always, a nice crowd of 30 or so filtered in and we discussed upcoming meetings, bird trips and  membership (I renewed my membership, you should join too!)

The Talking Head
 Since The Kirtland Bird Club meets at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, you never know who is going to stop by to make an announcement or two.  Fortunately, I spoke after this guy, so my program was a little more lively than his.

Cheryl Harner and Lukas Padegimas ( Flora-Quest Scholar 2015)
photo by Paula Lozano
It is also my great honor to announce that Lukas has received a scholarship to the 2015 Flora-Quest!  This is super exciting, because Lukas is interested in land conservation and practising law for conservation easements.  We can't wait to have him meet and greet all our botanical and birding friends when we gather at Mohican State Park in August.

Sign up for Flora-Quest and take part in eco-tourism.  This is educational-entertainment!  We hope to see you there; I'll introduce you to Lukas!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

What's the Buzz...

Forgive the obvious title. It seems a forgone conclusion to name pollinator programs for the bee.  But bees are not the only pollinators, and many of the sexual surrogates for plant reproduction don't buzz at all.  Take moths and birds for an example.  

If you haven't thought much about this before, I hope you will join us this Saturday at 7:00 pm at Gorman Nature Center in Mansfield, Ohio.  Prepare to have your mind blown.

It is my honor to be the keynote for this first (annual) event, so come out and help me kick this thing off right!  I have just put the final touches on my program and I am happy to share some new information (at least it was news to me!)  I am no neophyte regarding pollinators, so prepare to be edu-tained!  We will talk about all kinds of pollinators!

Our native bees hold a special spot in my heart and these work horses haven't been given the credit they deserve.  They definitely need an Emmy for "Best Supporting Actor."

Sure honeybees are great, but we have a lot of interesting things with wings getting in on the pollination act.

Moths and butterflies are also pollinators.  There is a direct correlation between botanic diversity and pollinator diversity.  Don't believe me?  Ask Darwin.  He suggested the basis of this a very long time ago.

So why all the interest in pollinators?  You might have heard of a little thing called Colony Collapse Disorder.  This is has had a major impact on bees, bee-keepers and farmers all across the country. But it is not only the Honeybees that are having a rough time of it.

Come on out and will discuss some very cool local pollinators and learn more about their preservation and protection.  

Love to mulch your landscape with wood chips?  We'll discuss why that could be bad news for your bees. 

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lakeside's Secret Gardens

Lakeside, Ohio has many attractions: the beautiful shores of Lake Erie, fine food and entertainment, friendly people and quaint architecture.  Now it even has a very special park for nature lovers.  It is a botanical "step back in time" featuring the historic flowers of Marblehead.

I'll be leading two walks on Saturday, May 23rd at 3:00 and again at 4:00 pm if you would like to experience this woodland garden in person.  Walk/field trip details can be found here on Lakeside's website.
Woodland Phlox and Mayapple leaves bespeak the richness of this forest floor.
Spring's ephemeral flora is short-lived but spectacular. Like mini-rainbows, the fleeting colors of flowers dance in dappled light, scattered across rich forest floor.  This year the outstanding display of Woodland Phlox, Phlox divaricata is as remarkable as any I have ever seen.

Moss-covered Rock outcropping
 The rocky outcroppings, remnants from Marblehead's rich history of stone quarrying, have an enchanting, verdant covering of moss.  Even winters in this secret garden boast of green.

Large-flowered Trillium, Ohio's state wildflower.
 The last of the Trillium are waning, but their leaves will bear proof of their presence.  A grander wild flower is not known in Ohio than this, Trillium grandiflorum.

Appendaged Waterleaf is now stealing the show.
 The newcomer blooming this week is the Appendaged Waterleaf, Hydrophyllum appendiculatum. It should be putting on an excellent show by Saturday. You'll not want to miss the opportunity to see these unusual flowers and trees growing in a natural habitat near the shores of Lake Erie.

Herb Robert, Geranium robertianum
 We will even discuss some of the local non-native flora, like this winsome gem, Herb Robert.  Some say it works as an insect repellent!

Join our walk to learn more stories of our favorite native plants and gain a greater appreciation for the unique Carolinian Forest flora found in this park. This newly "un"developed park is found at the corner of Sixth Street and Popular Avenue just north of the beautiful Chautauqua Memorial Gardens.

There is also a plant sale being held in Lakeside earlier in the day, and you may sign-up for this field trip at the registration table at the Legacy House at 217 Walnut Street.
Lakeside Daisy, Tetraneuris herbaca
While you are in Lakeside, you'll want to visit another very special "secret" garden on the Lakefront path in Perry Park. The rarest flower in the United States grows on our shores.  The last of this year's Lakeside Daisy blooms should still be evident in the garden maintained especially for their benefit.

Leave a comment below if you'd like help signing up for Saturday's walk. I hope to see you there!