Friday, July 31, 2009
Water-willow, Justicia americana
A delicate water-borne beauty, favored haunt for dragonflies, the Water-willow forms dense mats along the banks of rivers, streams and lakes. The purple and white blooms seem orchid or mint-like at first glance, but it is a member of the Acanthus family of flowers, like Bear's Breeches.
And the habitat isn't so bad either. I spent the afternoon studying this vegetation from the shore of the Clearfork Reservoir. Good thing I brought along my binoculars for dragonflies and birds, and the camera to document them. Its a dirty job, but somebody has to do it...
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
It was grievous to learn of Pinky's untimely death, however, that is what nature is all about: life, death and nutrients recycled. Being an insect is a tough way to make a living at the bottom of the food chain.
Somewhere out there is another pink katydid, and while it is nowhere near as famous as "Pinky," it is just as interesting and worthy of scientific attention. She was an ambassador for the insect world and it was a thrill to share her with so many.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The Midwest Native Plant Conference's field trips provided opportunities to botanize in some of Ohio's best fens and other natural areas. We viewed the gamut of flora at Cedar Bog-from the most common, Allium cernuum, the nodding onion (in the last post) to the exceedingly rare Zigadenus elegans, or Wand-lily.Found in only a few counties in Ohio, this lime-loving Wand-lily is also called White Camus. The Native Americans were well aware of its poisonous properties- and thus another common name is Death Camus. These common names vary from state to state.
As a wise old botanist told me this weekend: While scientific names change from time to time, common names change from location to location.
No matter what you call it, Zigadenus elegans is an "elegant" member of the Lily family and we were thrilled to see them in full bloom... just don't eat it.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Viceroy on Blazing Star
Just one photo from Prairie Road Fen to set the tone for the conference. Tonight's speakers were Judy Burris and Wayne Richards, authors of a great book entitled The Life Cycles of Butterflies. Check it out, you will be blown away with the macro photography!
Maybe we'll post more tomorrow- Pink Katydid is quite the celebrity here. Since her featured article in the Columbus Dispatch came out today, she is the most in-demand insect in Ohio!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
A chippy scolds us for disturbing the silence, then retreats to his grass-hidden lair.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Four-spotted Skimmer photos by John Howard
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Early in the morning the bumble bees pollinate the Swamp Roses, Rosa palustris which grow freely along a small stream. Their display is a feast for the eyes and a reminder that roses need not be the weak, chemically dependant, insect infested "hybrid teas" of Jackson Perkins fame. These natives are hardy beauties requiring no care, yet producing a wall of flowers for the passers-by.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Unfortunately, the Purple Martins were highly excitable and one house was completely free of activity. We wondered why there seemed to be feathers stuck to the roof, and once we walked in closer, we witnessed a gruesome scene of shattered wings and Martin parts. The house cast a chill over our mood, like the Nightmare on Elm Street.
Nature is sometimes cruel, and the Purple Martins were a tasty morsel for something higher up the food chain. This colony seemed to fare the cold snap in June better than their inland counterparts, most likely because mayflies are so plentiful in this location. Sadly, now we learn the hard way how tough nature can be, the house was probably predated by a raccoon. The Purple Martin landlord, Bill Dudrow had new sheet-metal animal baffles installed on the poles before noon today.
Hopefully we will have cheerier news to report next time, you can go here to see a post of this colony in happier times.
Sorry to the botany fans- I promise to post some flora photos soon!
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Our program was on the fascinating topic of North America's largest swallow, the Purple Martin. These colonial nesters and their life history made for lively discussion, and we were treated to great looks at the Purple Martins still feeding young in the super-gourd housing at Pleasant Hill Marina.
Thanks again to Don and Diana Plant for all their work, and to everyone for the exceptionally yummy food!
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Fringed Loosestrife, Lysimachia ciliata
There are likeable varieties of loosestrife, and although not as well known, they are well-behaved additions to our native flora. Fringed and Whorled Loosestrife both bear yellow flowers, with similar five petaled flowers. Whorled Loosestrife, Lysimachia quadrafolia has distinctive whorled leaves in tiers of four (hence the name quadrafolia.) Our photo feature is Fringed Loosestrife, Lysimachia ciliata a lovely addition to wet thickets throughout Ohio.
There is even a seldom seen native loosestrife, in a hot-pink variety. It will make you do a double-take, and wonder if the bad ones are loose again. A little comparison of size and leaf shape should clue you in to this diminutive wet-prairie species. Although it is not as large and showy as its cousin the bully, it has a pleasant, delicate look among the sedges and native grasses, and resides at both Dahmer Prairie and Castalia Resthaven Prairie.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Wild Petunia, Ruellia humilis with a very handsome striped insect. (click on the photo to enlarge)
This flower is pretty much contained in the southwest quadrant of the state of Ohio, and it is not uncommon to find this species growing in the ditches and along roadsides. The softly fuzzy leaves and violet flowers are worth stopping to inspect, as deep in the throat of the flower are magenta veins which probably act as nectar guides. If they are half as effective with insects as they are with me, this member of the Acanthus family should have no problem getting pollinated.
The bonus insect- a minuet fellow with a distinctive strip and festive dotting on the legs, should be easy enough to ID. Unfortunately, I am having no luck! Any takers out there?
Monday, July 6, 2009
While swimming here, I noticed some of the pockets carved in the rocks were filled with decaying matter, like rotting sea-weed, or more correctly, lake-weed? This must become the foothold plants need to germinate on this otherwise impregnable limestone. Even the sides of these rock formations have dwarfed flowers, mosses and grasses hanging on for dear life. Plants here become Mother Nature's personal bonsai garden.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Ka-Boom! The smoke and gun power explodes- once again we have the rockets red glare. With simultaneous fireworks at Put-in-Bay and Lakeside, one starts to think about the battles that did occur on this lake.
The Put-In-Bay monument in plain view from the Lakeside shore is named for Oliver Hazard Perry, who turned the tide in 1812- "We have met the enemy and they are ours." Tonight we celebrate our freedom once again.
Wishing you all a happy Independance Day!
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Here is a glamour shot of the white-and-shell-pink beauty, Great Rhododendron, Rhododendron maximum, listed only in six Ohio counties on the USDA Plants database. I was fortunate enough to accompany some of Ohio's finest naturalists to closed site in the Hocking Hills area, where we saw many rare and unusual species of Ohio's flora.