Monday, August 5, 2013

Natural Beauty: Prairie Style

 One of the most significant preservation accomplishments in Ohio in the past decade was naming Daughmer Prairie Savanna a State Nature Preserve.   A lot of good folks were involved in this effort, and I have written about it numerous times: the Dedication ceremony, how it looks in late fall, Daughmer on fire, its cord grass and several other posts as well.

Daughmer Prairie on an early August morning
I have gone there many times and each experience is different and meaningful in its own way. Last Saturday Crawford Park District was hosting one of Ohio's most knowledgeable naturalists, Jim McCormac.

This virgin, never-plowed prairie is worth investigating over and over.  If you would like to take a guided tour of Daughmer, go to the Ohio Natural Areas and Preserves Association and sign up for our Annual Banquet

Jim McCormac, the ultimate nature guide.
Jim McCormac, author and employee of Ohio Division of Wildlife, leads people into nature like none other. He has been a wonderful mentor to me and thousands of Other Ohioans. He is a walking field guide to Ohio.  You would be hard pressed to find a better source on botany, birds, natural history. He also has a great understanding of both mammals and insects, including moths, dragonflies and any other creepy-crawlies.  I simply wanted to hear his take on Daughmer.

There was quite a crowd too!   I didn't count, but we had somewhere between 45-50 people. Those of us who were in the back of the tour were a good 1/8 mile away!  It was still an extraordinary trip.

Winged Loosestrife, Lythrum alatum
 We had not even left the parking lot before we discussed the "good" loosestrife, which is not to be confused with the invasive non-native.

Sullivant's Milkweed, Asclepias sullivantii
Next we ogled the famous milkweed that was named for Ohio surveyor and part-time botanist William Starling Sullivant.

Ann Budgeda from Lake County Parks with Swamp Milkweed.
 It became a "pretty in pink" day, with Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata rising high in the grassland.  This milkweed is just as beneficial for hosting monarch butterfliess, but it prefers wet soils.

Primrose moth, Schinia florida
Another high-light was the Primrose moth Jim found as it flitted through the vegetation.  We had wonderful opportunities for a photo shoot with this compliant creature.  This day-flying photogenic pink bug can be found (but is seldom seen) throughout the eastern U.S.  Primrose moths have an affinity for nectaring on Common Evening Primrose.   I once saw one in Florida, but it didn't stick around for a photo session!

Josh Dyer (Crawford Parks), Jim McCormac (ODOW), and Bill Fisher (Crawford Parks) at Daughmer Prairie

Thanks to Crawford County Parks for all they do to maintain the prairie (with the help of ONAPA) and for hosting this special program.

Please sign up for the fall Daughmer tour with Guy Denny sponsored by ONAPA. You will be amazed, too.

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