Monday, April 06, 2009

Wildflowers and Sunshine- Highbanks Hike Continued

As I drove to work this morning, as I was curving around the off ramp and stopped at the traffic light, rain drops began to hit my windshield. I then realized that mixed in with the liquid water was semi-frozen slushy snowflakes. They were gone as soon as they came, but is was no-doubt-about-it snow.

And then just as I accelerated up the ramp to I-71, on my way home this afternoon, the heavens opened up once more, this time releasing wind driven heavy rain, and mixed in, big, wet, slushy snowflakes. With the high clouds that let quite a bit of light through, it was a strange sight. I'm just glad we're not going to receive the 6-12" of snow our local weatherman Jim Ganal predicted for my homeland, Northeast Ohio. Tom (fishing guy), have fun with this one, can't wait to see pictures.

With all this talk of snow, why not head back to last Thursday, a glorious spring day bursting with native wildflowers? I can't think of any reason not to, so here we go.

The other Tom (Mon@rch) that we all know and love apparently needs a baby fix, so why don't we give him one?

Here's Weston and Mom, wearing a wonderful little cap made by his Aunt Rachel. She's studying to be a nurse practioner in Virginia, so we'll have two advanced practice nurses in the family soon. Thanks Rachel, he wore this hat well.

Here we are at the trail head, near the nature center at Highbanks. We picked up on the pileated woodpecker trail, which winds through beech-maple-oak forest ravines, eventually down to the floodplain of the Olentangy River, and back up again. There were plenty of bloodroots, as you saw from yesterday's post, but several other interesting things were blooming as well.

Like this little guy, which I think is long spurred violet (Viola rostrata) but I looked at it only to take the picture. I remember way back when, 10 years ago, when I saw my first spurred violet at Eagle Creek State Nature Preserve. Ohio has over two dozen species of native violets, and this is one of them. Compare this one to the violets in your yard, and you'll see that they don't have this long spur.

The first flower I typically see each spring, without fail, is spring beauties. Although I had seen some by the time I had taken the violet image, it wasn't until I caught a few Dutchman's breeches just beginning to unfurl that I got both species in a picture. Look carefully, the breeches are the solid over exposed white flowers in the top right with feather divided leaves, while the spring beauties are in the lower left, with linear spongy leaves.

And what is spring without an early blooming sedge? I believe this is Carex pensylvanica, Pennsylvania sedge, which is a common early bloomer in mesic to dry woods.

As we walked, the trail dropped down to a small head water stream that cuts down to the bedrock of the area, the Devonian aged Ohio Shale. Same bedrock here that is in Cleveland that they find gigantic armored fish fossils called Dunkleosteus in. It also is the source of Central Ohio's home radon issues.

After leading us down, the trail led us back up the ravine on the other side. From this location, I could see the opposite eroding bank, and I spotted one of the concretions that I have blogged about before, even comparing Megan's pregnant belly to one of these round rocks. This shot was at full telephoto from about 100 feet away, and I would estimate the boulder to be about 3 feet in diameter. The jury is out about how these round concretions formed in rather flat, finely bedded shale, but my sister agency has put out a great fact sheet that is well worth a read. Would you believe that one of these concretions found at highbanks metropark actually had a devonian aged fish jaw fossilized in the center of it? They've got a picture of it at highbanks. Obviously, I'm finding it more interesting now than when we were there, or else I would have photographed the fossil!

Thanks for joining us on part two of our Highbanks adventure, tomorrow we'll make it down to the river, see what's inhabiting the upper reaches of the floodplain, and find out what bird species are already building their nests.



  1. Great posting as always Tom.

    Have a great week!
    Regina In Pictures

  2. Hi Tom. Enjoyed the post. You're lucky that your snow was melting as it hit the windshield. We woke up to an inch of accumulation this morning in northern Indiana.

    The violet looks like Viola rostrata to me. Nice shots!


  3. It was a glorious spring day- I'm hoping that the warm weather returns soon!

  4. Weston looks darling in his little green hat his Aunt Rachel made him! I thought it looked cute before, but setting on this little cutie's head, it's just perfect! Way to go Rachel!

    Oh yea, the flowers were nice, too!

  5. OK...the absolute best shot is definitely Megan and Weston! How cute he is getting and the hat is perfect :-)

  6. Guy, thanks very much.

    Scott- No accumulation here in C-bus, we were lucky, just some flakes.

    Megan, I think it will, I think it will.

    Mom- Yes, it is both functional and stylish. Great job Rachel.

    Thanks Mary. We switched him towards the end of the hike so when I wrap up that series of pics, there will be a nice shot of me and Weston.


  7. Hey Tom nice hike, I wish I could say your photos are amazing, lol, but little Weston is definitely going to superseed all. What a cute baby! Anna :)

  8. OMG! OMG! So excited to see a pic of Weston in the hat I made. Made my day after coming home from a long clinical that ended at 8:45 tonight! Glad the hat is such a hit- I'll make Weston more baby clothes eventually.

  9. Awwwwwwwww...Weston looks about as sleepy as a guy can get. What a cutie pie!

  10. Anna- Thanks so much, we have fun with him. Although last night he woke up about 5:30 a.m. and I've up since. A bit tired but well worth it.

    Rachel, thanks again. He had his socks on too that you made.

    Lana- Thanks very much.

  11. Hi Tom,
    As usual you provide a wealth of information and beautiful photos. However, the BEST was of Weston and Megan - both looking in the peak of health and happiness. Adorable little knit cap!