Results from Ohio’s Heritage botanist are pending: Happy April 1st.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Results from Ohio’s Heritage botanist are pending: Happy April 1st.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Sure the economy is tight, but that is not the type of flexible billing this post is about.
There were no Short-billed Dowitchers in attendance at the recent Shreve Migration Sensation –their peak migration is not until May- but, their cousins the Snipe were found in good numbers. And while studying them, our conversation soon turned to the amazing flexible tip of their mud-probing bills. Not only are the tips flexible, as this impossible-looking photo shows, they are also sensitive to touch, enabling the discovery of dowitcher delectables buried in the sand and mud.
The adaptations of shorebirds, and their specific food niche can be a study in and of itself. The better birders can often tell the species of bird by the depth of water and signature style of foraging. Mannerism or habitat is often the key to a bird's ID, so you’ll want to pay attention to those subtle clues. Sorting these divas of the mud flats can be a real challenge for a Weedpicker, so I need all the clues I can get.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Great balmy-weather birding and programs were the main draw, while a nice selection of vendors and educational displays rounded out the mix. It was old-home week for many of my feather-friends, and I enjoyed seeing so many GMAS and OOSers.
Marc Nolls, Jim MCcormac and Dave Ford in the field.
After tending to the Greater Mohican Audubon Society booth for a bit of the morning, we hit the waterholes to have a look-see. The waterfowl were plentiful and the frogs were in good chorus too. Although we were unable to actually locate the leopard frogs, we knew they were about from their underwater "snores" - grrrrowl.
The afternoon was filled with programs, one featured Ohio Peregrine Falcons, which included some amazing video and photos (one shown here.) It was a fascinating look at the life history of these "Bullet hawks" from birth to death.
Hilliary the Peregrine Falcon.
Last two speakers: McCormac and Kaufman, both worth the wait. Jim McCormac showed some lovely images from his about-to-be-released book, Wild Ohio: The Best of our Natural Heritage, and regaled the audience with his depth of knowledge and well-developed sense of humor. Anyone who enjoys nature will want to learn about the incredible diversity Ohio has to offer and you can pre-order a copy of his book, just gohere for the form.
And last, but certainly not least, Kenn Kaufman should win a "constellation" prize for his program on migration and the movement to save habitat with shade grown coffee. If you love birds, think twice about your morning cup of Joe; think shade grown.
Thanks everyone, for a wonderful day!
Photo by Brian Zwiebel
What does your morning cup of coffee have to do with Cerulean warblers? Plenty, according to the research by Dr. Amanda Rodewald at The Ohio State University. Her program at the Ohio Wildlife Diversity Conference focused on the Cerulean Warbler and the terrifying 70% decline in its global population since 1966.
Shade grown coffee could be the answer. Many neotropical birds utilize the plants, often coffee, growing in the understory mountainous regions of South American. More aptly, they “utilize” the insects that visit those plants. All was well and good, until shade grown coffee was tossed aside and the soil tilled and managed for sun grown coffee. The difference is the same contrast between an organic Ohio Amish farm and the huge corporate farms tilling large swathes of land with no hedgerows, and chemically controlled weeds and insects. Not a bird (or people) friendly operation.
What can you do? Let’s make that effort to purchase shade grown coffee. If we all did a little- we could accomplish a lot! Folger's and Maxwell House should be trembling at the prospective loss from my coffee drinking habits alone!
Help protect the neotropicals: please pass this blog link on to your friends, and let's start rewriting history. Purchase shade grown coffee and give the warblers a break! Please click the new link on the sidebar to order your Audubon coffee.
Photo provided by Brian Zwiebel, to purchase his exceptional photography, please go to Nature Photography Portfolio.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Dave Riepenhoff sent this wonderful photo of a Henry's Elfin recently seen in Shawnee Forest. Henry's is a dime-sized beauty that utilizes the Red Bud tree as its host plant, and in just a week or so, Shawnee will be a blaze with blooming Red Buds like the photo below.
Shawnee Red Buds photo Ian Adams
More news on the butterfly front: Toledo Rare Birds has added a Lepidoptera section! Now butterfly folks can report their sightings. I don't know about you, but that adds the Pop! to my Snap and Crackle! It doesn't take much butterfly talk to get me excited about spring!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Trilliums are among the most recognizable and earliest of the spring ephemerals, the short-lived wildflowers that bloom before trees fully leaf out in the spring. And Snow Trilliums, little 3-5 inch beauties are a real rarity.
These were photographed at The Wilderness, property owned by The Nature Conservancy in Adams County. Franklin County also harbors at least two populations, where I have seen these hardy flowers blooming in April- when snow was still lingering on the ground.
Easy to recognize but difficult to find, the Snow Trillium has a special charm of its own.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Our Adams County micro-flora foray also included some very cool micro-fauna. Searching under rocks and logs on stream edges is just part of the deal when you hike with naturalists. Many interesting species lurk underwater, or at the waters edge.
We found a Common Stonefly larvae, one of the species used as a bioindicator for good water quality. Ecologist often test for "EPT" Ephemeroptera (mayflies), Plecoptera (stoneflies) and Trichoptera (caddisflies). These species are bioindicators of a good quality stream.
So don't think of them as scary creepy-crawlies, these aquatic invertebrates are important water quality indicators we should admire and respect!
Sunday, March 22, 2009
In Ohio we too often take this "gift of life" for granted. With Lake Erie's bounty to our north and reservoirs spotted throughout the state, we give little consideration to our liquid assets. We ego-centric humans have always touted blood as the gift of life, but without freshwater, life as we know it would soon come to a screeching halt.
Turning on a faucet in mid-Ohio is so easy, one never registers the rarity of this natural resource. If you lived in Arizona or Florida and endured water rationing and watering bans, the concept becomes a bit clearer. On a global perspective, many still carry water for miles for that life giving sustenance of human, livestock and agricultural needs.
Plants, butterflies, birds, fish, humans- we all need clean water. Take a moment to ponder this gift of life and reconsider your choices. Do you need to use that chemical on your lawn? Is agricultural run off impacting our streams and rivers? Can parking lot residuals creep into our waterways? Protect and conserve our water- learning about Rain Gardens is one step in the right direction.
Many of these early blooming plants we pursued in Adams County are in the mustard or Brassicaceae family: Levenworthia, Drabas and the more familiar Cardamines: Purple Spring-cress and Cut-leafed Toothwort. Perhaps their small size makes finding them seem like such a big deal!
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Another shot of the same plant from the last post, Harbinger of spring, this one in a more developed state. Interestingly enough, we were discussing the possible pollinators for such an early plant. Beetles? Ants?
Behold- the bee! Now remember this flower-head is no bigger than a dime, and our bee appears to be a Mason or "orchard bee" of the Osmia family. Looks like a match to the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects (pg. 343). This is the book- I thought I would never use it, and now it is darn near indispensable!
These pollinators are quite interesting, as they are picking up more of the slack than people had imagined, since the colony collapse disorder has stuck the non-native European Honeybees.
And remember the name "Salt and Pepper?" Not the rock band, the other common name of Harbinger of Spring. This photo clearly illustrates that moniker.
Micro bees and macros of flora- stay tuned! You'll be amazed at all Adams County had to offer!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
The Ohio Ornithological Society's 2009 Conference and Annual banquet will be held May 16th, a sensational time to be in the Oak Openings and Lake Erie marsh regions. The staging ground is the beautiful Holiday Inn-French Quarter in Perrysburg, located only a stone’s throw from the Oak Openings’ best habitats, and an easy drive from such iconic western Lake Erie birding locales as Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and its legendary bird trail.
The Saturday-only conference will feature three nationally known speakers, Kim Kaufman, Director of Black Swamp Bird Observatory, and Jim Berry of Roger Tory Peterson Institute will present in the afternoon. Both are outstanding and you won't want to miss them! After Saturday evening's dinner, Jim McCormac, President of the OOS will give a program titled Oak Openings: Desert of Diversity, based on twenty years of visits to document its rare flora and fauna. Visit vendors, browse educational displays, and enjoy good conversation with fellow birdwatchers during the dinner buffet.
Even though the conference is officially only one day, there'll be plenty of great opportunities on the days that bookend it. Plan to visit one or more of the featured destinations, as the Oak Openings is Ohio’s only stronghold for Lark Sparrows, and harbors breeding Summer Tanagers, Blue Grosbeaks, Whip-poor-wills, Blue-headed Vireos and much more.
The date of the conference will also be good for catching late migrants such as Connecticut Warbler at Magee Marsh and the famous "Boardwalk." The conference packet will provide directions to seven great locations, ready to showcase the best they have to offer for our attendees. Hope to see you at “The Oaks!”
For Registration Click here or visit Jim McCormac's blog for more info.
The booklet is the perfect field guide for your daypack or car's glove box, as it features 60 species with stunning photos of the adults and larval forms of many butterflies. Their life histories are complimented with distribution maps, and occurrence charts. Written in cooperation with the Ohio Lepidopterist, it has most of the species the casual butterfly enthusiast will see in Ohio.
Generously provided with Diversity Funds, your free copy of Publication 204(109) from the Ohio Division of Wildlife is available by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE (1-800-945-3543) or (614) 265-6300 for those outside of Ohio. The text and photos are beautifully presented; photos were provided by folks throughout Ohio, including contributions from good friends John Howard, Jim McCormac, Jim Davidson and Dr. Jaret Daniels, from Florida.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
And the biggest mystery is, how do Mourning Cloaks live in the winter? I bet you thought all butterflies go through that life cycle of hatching out of a chrysalis in the spring. When it comes to the life history of butterflies- your elementary teachers usually left the best stuff out! Yes, Mourning Cloaks hibernate as adults, in tree crevasses or log piles and leaf litter, and can emerge for a single warm March day, only to return to hibernation with inclement weather.
But what do they eat? There are no flowers blooming in the woods. Mourning Cloaks nectar at sap and dung. We all know the maple sap is running, and the Mourning Cloaks utilize sap for nectaring sources. They just get more wonderfully specialized by the minute.
Get out there and enjoy nature- even in the very earliest of spring there is much to be seen!