Wednesday, September 19, 2007

North Bass Island

I definitely have one of the greatest jobs available in the State of Ohio. I have had the opportunity to travel this summer to North Bass Island, in Lake Erie, three times this year. With my co-worker Rick Gardner, I'm working on a vegetation survey of the island for the Division of Parks. Here are a few of my shots from this past Monday-Tuesday trip.

We leave from Catawba State Park, where I can remember fishing when I was a teenager. There is a nice cobble limestone beach there which really looked great in the morning sun as we were waiting for our boat.

We arrived at the Island and were greeted by Dale Burris, and, well, grapes. Even though many of the vineyards have been removed, grapes are still a big presence on the island.

After saying goodbye to our hosts, we loaded up the utility vehicle and drove to the lodge. Here to greet us outside near the deck was a large Lake Erie watersnake.

But today was not all fun and games. We had some serious work to do. One of my goals was to find a chinquapin oak on the island, a limestone loving oak species, but we were not able to come up with one. There are very few oaks on the island, but there is this large red oak in the woods just to the south of the chapel.

Also in this woods grew Smilax illonensis, or Illinois greenbrier. This plant has globular blue fruits that look like a little bit like grapes.

Next it was onto Honey Point, the southeast tip of the island. Here, waves come at the point from two directions.

Growing on the beach was seaside spurge, one of Ohio's potentially threatened plants. In Ohio, this plant is found only along the shoreline of Lake Erie. I usually see it in sandy situations, but here it was growing amongst the cobbles.

After our vegetation work was done for the evening, I had an opportunity to photograph insects in a nearby field. There were many interesting little creatures, including this pearl crescent whose color seemed washed out and faded.

Several other interesting insects were present, including a chickweed geometer, a colorful larval lepidopteran, thousands of grasshoppers, and even some female damselflies, possibly familiar bluets.

The sunset was fairly spectacular, and it cast amazing light on everything, including several Jerusalem artichokes and the back wall an abandoned house on the island.

Finally, the sun set, creating up more photo opportunities.

With no light left, I retreated to the lodge, watched a bit of Ontario television and learned about the Green Party in Canada, and was off to bed. We were treated to a spectacular sunrise the next morning.



  1. You're right Tommy- you do have a great job that lets you travel about! How cool! :-)

  2. I am totally jealous of your job! The photos are amazing! Did you get a new camera after dropping yours in the river? If so, what kind is it? I need all the help I can get to be a better photographer. There's only so much Photoshop can do for me :)

    Again, great pics!


  3. Fantastic pic's. North Bass Island has some amazing areas. I always feel like I'm stepping back in time. Thanks for your hard and important work.

  4. Seems like a very interesting place with a unique look and light. It has just recently moved up on my short list of places to get to.

  5. I lived there as a child. Would like to return someday for a visit.

  6. I work for the nature conservancy in the Oak Openings Region, and just was completely captivated by your picture and comments. Everyday I work with plants and it is nice to see the same occurring else where, especially on one of the islands. As I was reading your coments you spoke of Chinquapin oak and I got real excited, hey a red oak is a great find too! We recently ran in to a Chinquapin oak about 2 to 4 years old on our preserve, but we mainly have black oaks, white oaks, pin oaks, and swamp oaks. Lets just say you instantly made me want to jump ship and come work for the establishment you work for. What an experience going to such a rare amount of biodiversity that has had minnimal impact by our species!! have a wonderful rest of your weekend because you providing this made my weekend! Most Respectfully, Matthew L. Pierce