Monday, June 30, 2008

Our African Adventure, Continued

Megan and I left the field biologist and after a few short steps, we were treated to an amazing array of birds. Amazingly, they all seemed to be confined to one small area and were quite used to people. Perhaps the most fascinating of the species in this extremely birdy forest area were the spectacular carmine bee-eaters. They were feeding on these fascinating concentrations of insect larvae scattered about the forest floor.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Our Journey to the Congo

This morning, Megan and I journeyed to the African forests and met this nice field biologist. I must say, he was extremely quiet, in fact, he said nothing. He was so focused on studying the large mammals of the area that he stared in one direction without glancing away for an instant. I admire the dedication and patience of this hard working field biologist.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Stream Bluet Stack 'em Up

Megan and I are in the midst of packing. Somehow, water soaked our basement floor this past week, just after our 5 inch rain night. The strange thing is, we haven't figured out how the water go in. It didn't come through the walls, because they were all dry. Just strange. Anyways, we're busy packing all our things into boxes in the basement so the wet carpet can be ripped up. It is starting to smell horribly like mildew. We've had fans and the dehumidifier running 24/7.

The evening I took this picture, earlier this week, there were stream bluets covering the banks of the river. They are fascinating creatures. What makes the males all get together like this? Are they hoping a female might fly by? Why are there so many more males than females? The females I do see have usually found a male. Nature is full of questions, isn't it?


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Skywatch Friday

Taken from my favorite sunset photography area, Kenney Park, Columbus, Ohio. These cloud formations bring angels to my mind. I'm not one typically to see angels in the clouds, but the allegory here is too strong for me to ignore.
Happy sky watch everyone.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Capturing Light

I recently realized that I hadn't taken many photographs recently for art's sake, so I had to remedy that situation. These are shots taken last evening along the Olentangy River. Which one(s) do you like?


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rock Hard Mussels

After our high waters receded, weathered dead mussel shells (sometimes called sub-fossils) that have been scoured up by the surging water are strewn about the river and banks. Here are some of the more interesting shells from my walk on Sunday morning.

The little ones are non-native Asian clams.

More Asian clams, there are millions of these in the Olentangy

And finally, ancient sea creatures embedded in some Delaware limestone.


Monday, June 23, 2008

The Olentangy Runs High

Here's a shot of the water willow beds along the Olentangy River near Kenney Park. Believe it or not, one of the busiest commuter highways in Ohio is just to the right of this river. And between the river and the highway is one of the busiest bike baths in the state of Ohio. These water willow beds are what I look for when I want to photograph damselflies. The little sprites just love these habitats. I often see the females laying eggs on the submerged stems of water willow. This year, the river is quite high compared to last year, when this area had only inches of water in some places. Larger dragons are very difficult to see this year, since most of their basking spots are covered by water. If there are any interesting clubtails around, I'm guessing they are hiding in the trees or along the river bank. The high and turbid water also makes it quite difficult to wade through the stream, limiting my access. I still crossed it on this day, it only came up to my knee. We continue to get rain at least every other day. I'm sure farmers love this, but I'd like the water in the Olentangy to be just a bit more clear!


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Blue-Fronted Dancer Female

Isn't this creature a looker? I spent some time this morning setting up this shot to get it "just right". The camera is actually mounted on a tripod. Damsels like this love to bask along the shorelines of rivers and streams, and I know that I used to pass them off without giving them a good look. But when viewed close up, they have an amazing variety of colors, structures, and behaviors. To me, they are incredibly fascinating. I'm so glad that our home search is over. Megan and I were spending hours each night with the Realtor for several weeks, leaving little time for naturalizing or blogging. Now, we have a bit more free time, but only a bit. Megan is wrapping up her dissertation and soon we'll have to pack up all of our stuff in preparation for the move. We can't wait.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Olentangy Teems with Life

The Olentangy is teeming with life right now. The images are from my photo outing last Friday.

Black-shouldered spinyleg

Stream bluets and powdered dancer

Baby map turtle (hatched last fall)

Stream bluet

Powdered dancer orgy!

The first American rubyspot of the year.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Prince Bastkettail....and a House...Finally

About a week ago, I walked down to the Olentangy one evening about 7:00 to see what I could see dragonfly wise. Sure enough, the river did not disappoint, and I spotted a species that I missed last year. This dragon is called the prince baskettail. I've since learned that it is common in Ohio around ponds and lakes, and apparently even rivers. This dragon was flying back and forth along the riverbank, darting off course occasionally to gobble up a mosquito. I think the most interesting part of this creature are its green eyes.

You may have noticed that I've been much more quiet now that field season is fully here. During the winter and spring, I had plenty of spare time to blog and read other blogs. Now that the field season is here, I'm working irregular hours driving to the extreme corners of the state to botanize. So far it has been a fantastic summer, and I have really been focusing on learning the sedges, or Carex species, that grow in Ohio. My plant presses are full of specimens.

And on the home front, as you probably know, Megan and I have been looking for a house for about two months. Well, I think that we are far enough along in the process that I can announce that "WE HAVE FOUND A HOUSE!" We are in contract, have been through inspections, requests to remedy, final mortgage approval and we are set to close on July 14th. What a day that will be- the day we purchase our first house.

The house is in Worthington, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. The house itself lies 2.7 miles north of our current home. I'll be a little farther from the river, but still a very quick bike ride away. I'm looking to expand my horizons. Instead of just going to Kenney Park to naturalize, I'll get on my bike, have the camera, and zip up and down the river corridor. From our new house's neighborhood, we have direct access to the Olentangy River Bikeway. This path travels all the way south through campus (of The Ohio State University) and then down to downtown all the way to where the Olentangy meets up with the Scioto River. I'm looking forward to learning about the Olentangy in even more depth. Who knows, maybe there will be a more diverse dragonfly fauna up north.

And finally, one of the coolest things about our new house is the gigantic bur oak, a gorgeous specimen, that grows in the backyard. It has a diameter at breast height (a forestry term, really) of four feet! More on the house and the tree to come, including a historical look at our neighborhood when this tree was literally the only one on the block.


Monday, June 16, 2008

High Water

Although here in Columbus, we haven't had any major flooding events like those occurring in Iowa, the recent rains have brought very high water levels to the Olentangy River. I'm surmising that the normal food sources that mallards eat during the summer are submerged. This pair is making up for the lack of food by visiting the seed pile placed in the street by our neighbor. The white bits are blossoms of our neighbor's arching Catalpa tree.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sky Watch Friday- The Ohio Plains

Last Friday, driving back from Kelleys Island, I captured a few interesting images from the passenger seat of our moving car which was heading back to Columbus.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Man Missing in Olentangy (Not Me!)

Remember my post about the swollen Olentangy yesterday and how I wouldn't go near the river? I guess this poor young man saw the river and had the opposite thought. Really quite an unfortunate event, it shows you how powerful the river can be during high water events like the one we are currently having. This happened about five to ten miles downstream of where Megan and I live.

Spencer Hunt of the Columbus Dispatch Reports:

Kelleys Island

Thanks to Derek Jensen for releasing this fabulous oblique aerial photo of Kelleys Island to the public domain. You can can get a great feel for how large and still how wild this island is. Let me qualify that: wild for OHIO! We do have 10 million people in this state, so finding any high quality natural areas is quite a challenge. You can see in this photo the quarries. The island is a hunk of limestone with thin soil on top. Much of the limestone has been quarried away. The abandoned quarries make fantastic habitat for many of Ohio's state listed plants. There are also red cedar woods across the island which also make for interesting habitat.

To get to Kelleys, you can take a boat or fly. We take the ferry. Cedar Point roller coasters in back left.

The ferry landing.

To the east quarry to botanize.

Carex viridula, an Ohio potentially threatened species.

Very interesting dragons in the wheel position. Any thoughts?

A tiny american toadlet with vestiges of his tadpolian tail.

Our super invasive non-native Phragmites australis subspecies australis.

A quarry sedge swale not yet invaded by Phragmites.

It supported larval ambystomatid salamanders, perhaps the Kelleys Island salamander.

The clear horseshoe shape lake of the quarry supported a lush growth of pond weed. (Potamogeton)

To the woods, a natural calcareous cliff, perhaps an old shoreline.

A not so natural fence, contructed long ago.

The blue ash, Fraxinus quadrangulata, is not uncommon on the island.

Neither is the honey locust, Gleditsia triacanthos.

And last but not least, the woods was teeming with this damsefly, perhaps an emerald spreadwing. Thank goodness for them. Nature's Bug Spray. Dragons and Damsels.