Monday, June 28, 2010

Landfill to Landmark- Byers Woods

The Ashland County Park District has an unusual piece of real estate in their portfolio, a capped off landfill. Greater Mohican Audubon has been giving bird walks at Byers for years, offering a scenic walk around two large "cells" covered in mixed grasses, clovers and forbs, and nearby woods. Each year we would celebrate the return of the Bobolinks in the spring, and then mourn the lost of their fledglings when the grass was mowed for maintenance in June.

Male Bobolink

Four years ago we did something about it. We worked with the Ashland County Park Board, and with the blessings of Ashland County Commissioners we planned our first Bobolinks and Butterflies at Byers Woods. The Commissioners arranged for the annual maintenance mowing in July, allowing time for the baby Bobo's to leave the nests built directly on the ground in the deep grasses.

Last year we stepped up our public education efforts by installing a sign explaining the life cycle of the Bobolinks. Now, we annually celebrate successful Bobolink breeding and the other interesting flora and Fauna found at Byers Woods. Here a just a few more creatures we saw in 2010.

Milbert's Tortoiseshell Photo by Greg Cornett

These orange and brown butterflies are the prized lepidopterian jewels of Byers Woods. They are not an easy find in Ohio, and most of my friends in NW or SW Ohio will wish they had seen this little beauty. You'll want to think twice before you get rid of "weeds" like Stinging nettle, Urtica dioica , as we learned it is is the host plant for this unusual butterfly.

Our afternoon speaker/ trip leader was Jim Davidson a butterfly, dragonfly, bird and botany guy and good friend of mine. Jim does it all and has an amazing wealth of knowledge. Here he explains the differences between native and non-native cattails species.

And since Jim is quite good with the dragonflies, we spent a bit of time admiring the species found at the pond. This Unicorn Clubtail was quite a thrill and a "life" dragonfly for most of our troops. Anytime I get to see a clubtail, I am a happy camper.

And Halloween Pennants were perched on stem-tops holding their wings like a flag in the breeze. These colorful dragonflies of orange and brown make quite an impression!
Thanks to all the folks who so graciously helped out, Su Snyder - bird walk leader, John Precup- our main GMAS booth man, Warren Uxley and Greg and Leslie Cornett for carting plants and for helping wherever needed.
A special thank you for the support and encouragement of Black Swamp Bird Observatory and Hugh Rose and Judy Kolo-Rose for bringing the traveling display to our event. And certainly, we appreciate Jack and Lalle Laughlin from the Friends of Ashland Parks for all their help with this event, and all the park folks who provided lunch!
But most of all this event works for conservation because people attend from far and wide! Thank you for traveling many miles to show our park system that we value the Bobolink. IF you were not able to make it this year, please save the last Saturday in June of 2011 and plan to join us in our efforts to continue conserving grassland birds at Byers Woods. It is hard to believe we can accomplish so much for conservation, just by having a good time!

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