Sunday, May 31, 2009

Today's Flowers- the Lily-Leaved Twayblade

I've had the opportunity to view and photograph this subtly colored, amazingly intricate orchid twice this year. It is native to the eastern deciduous forests. Isn't it quite stunning?

This is my contribution to this week's Today's Flowers meme.

Ohio Heritage Naturalists at Cave Lake

Little Wood Satyr, Megisto cymela

Yesterday, I traveled with my co-worker Rick G. and met up with our Ohio Natural Heritage Program volunteer group, the Ohio Heritage Naturalists. We botanized and naturalized Cave Lake, a YMCA campground that has family camping, and in the future, will house more facilities, while keeping the significant natural areas intact. This site in western pike county is located in a dolomite gorge, which was long along ago dammed to create a recreational lake. A significant cave, Frost Cave, overlooks the lake, and some of the gorge is still present, with tall dolomite cliffs and a beautiful waterfall. Here's a look at some of the critters and geologic features we observed yesterday. It was great to be out with everyone and learn many new things.

Golden Backed Snipe Flies, Chrysopilus Thoracicus I'll let you interpret their behavoir. Kudos to Janet for knowing the name of this striking insect.

Some type of Orb-weaver spider.

Eastern Fence Lizard, Sceloporus undulatus

Eyed Click Beetle, Alaus oculatus

And here is the fantastic waterfall below the dam,

And finally, a look out from Frost Cave to Cave Lake. Deep within the reaches of this cave, in the dark zone, lives the Frost Cave Isopod, Caecidotea rotunda, known from only four other caves in the entire world.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Time for Collective Naturalizing 2009 Style

The field season is at me fast and furious. So much to see, so much to document. If you've been with me for a while, you'll remember last year's collective naturalizing posts. A list of pictures, some things I know, some I may not, but let's all work together to put names on these pictures that I took today from a swamp/fen/marsh complex in Ashtabula County with Jim Bissell and the Northeast Ohio Naturalists of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. One hint: There are three species of plants pictured on the Ohio rare plant list. One endangered, one threatened, one potentially threatened.

Guesses welcome, OK, here we go:

1. Midland painted turtle, Chrysemys picta marginata
2. Swamp saxifrage, Saxifraga pensylvanica
3. Necklace sedge, Carex projecta, Ohio threatened species.
4. Viburnum opulus var. americanum (syn. Viburnum trilobum), Ohio endangered species. Yes, WoodsWalker, it is being munched by Viburnum leaf beetle!.
5. Some type of Sphinx moth. Any help here would be appreciated!
6. Beaver handiwork on Populus deltoides.
7. Carex stricta, tussock sedge.
8. Arisaema tryiphyllum subsp. stewardsonii
9. Sensitive fern, Onoclea sensibilis
10. Skunk cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus
11. Highbush blueberry, Vaccinnium corymbosum
12. Two vascular plants here, one blooming, one not. Maianthemum canadense and Coptis trifolia
13. Cinnamon fern, Osmunda cinnamomea
14. Water or purple avens, Geum rivale, an Ohio potentially threatened species.
15. Me driving in the car during a deluge, which we just missed before we got back to the saftey of our vehicles. In case you didn't recognize, that's Ohio on the left, Pennsylvania on the right.

Thanks for chipping in everyone.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Those Dam building Beavers


Yesterday, Megan and I cleared a beaver dam that was blocking the outlet of little pond. Too much water, and the bog can get flooded. It really doesn't surprise me, but after canoeing back there this morning, the beavers had not only rebuilt the dam, but they have made it both taller and wider.

The beavers in charge of this dam most likely live in this lodge. Although its been active for several years, every time I visit Little Pond, it seems as if they have piled more mud and sticks onto the mass. It really is huge!

This evening we will head back to Ohio, but we had a wonderful time here in Maine. I recommend this state to anyone thinking about heading north for vacation, you won't be dissapointed.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Summer Arrives in Maine


It is incredible to be in Maine on a warm sunny day- there just simply isn't anything like it. The long, frigid, and snow filled winters keep people away. But come memorial day, it seems like all of New England makes it up to Maine, because, well, it is simply fabulous here.

Today Megan and I got to take the canoe out for a spin around the pond. Grandma watched Weston, and it was nice to have that time together this morning. We saw many bass, sunfish, and even a giant snapping turtle! I hope you enjoy these blue sky images from Maine, which almost overnight, really has turned into vacationland.




Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dragonfly Rubs its Eyes

If you've been visiting here for a while, you'll remember my love affair with the dragonflies and damselflies of the Olentangy River. Since I don't live quite as close to the river anymore, I just can't walk for five minutes and photograph one of my favorite photographic subjects. But while we're here in Maine, well, I'm getting reacquainted with my good buddies.

One of the things that I have seen but never photographed, until yesterday, was the rotational head movements that dragons do as they seemingly clean off their eyes. It happens in and instant, and is just so cool to watch these stiff bodied animals suddenly twist and turn their globular head. The sequence above is from a dragon resting on the sand driveway. I'm not sure of the species, but it looks like a type of skimmer.

A rainy day today, so not many dragons will be flying. But tomorrow, it will be sunny, and I'll be pulling out the dragon lens once again.


The Living Forest

Life abounds in the Maine woods. When I first visited this great state, I quickly was intrigued by how little patches of forest clearings shot up with young pines and spruces. Every inch of the ground seemed to be covered with plants. Here at Little Pond, trees will grow anywhere, including on top of rocks, on top of dead logs, or any other place they can get a foothold.

Yesterday was gray and breezy, and the temperatures dropped to the low 50's by sunset. Rain overnight, and gray again, but calm and still, which makes for much better wildflower photographs, as the flowers themselves move slowly back and forth in even the most gentle breezes.

We're about ready to head to church, a classic white clapboard variety, the one where Megan I were married in 2006. I always love meeting and talking with Mainers, they always have something interesting to say.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Painted Trilliums and Pink Lady Slippers

Welcome to Maine. If you've been following my twitter updates over on the right, you'll know a little bit of what we've been up to. Yesterday, mostly, I searched for painted trilliums. I spent a few hours going through the various habitats and completely struck out. It wasn't until we loaded Weston into the stroller, covered it with a bug net, and rolled him down the back driveway, that I finally found my quarry. Only three flowering plants, but isn't this species stunning? Their range just barely nips extreme northeast Ohio. I've looked for them several times up in that region, but have struck out each time. Today, finally, I saw and photographed this beautiful trillium for the first time.

Although the bugs were crazy, and I had to wear a head net the whole time, photographing the sunset at Little Pond is always one of my favorite things to do here. Last night's show did not disappoint.

And Pink Lady Slippers too? Yes, I surely wasn't expecting to find this species in full bloom, surely not at the same time as painted trillium, but here in Maine, the phenology seems to be compressed compared to our long springs in Ohio. I just happened to notice two beautiful slippers in the dim light as I was heading back up to the house, and captured this image with flash. More today hopefully with natural light.

So much to see here, so much to photograph.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's off to the Little Pond and the Oxford Hills of Maine- Sky Watch Friday

That's right, we're off to Maine again. This will be Weston's first trip to Little Pond, and to we're wondering how our little guy (almost 3 months old) will fare on his first commercial jet airliner journey. I've been on the flights with "the" crying baby, and this time, that baby could be Weston. Then again, he's been a great baby, and he doesn't cry very much, so we have our fingers crossed. We'll be ready to give him what he needs on the trip.

No real plans once we get there, but I'll be sure to check out the woodland flora, and I sure would love to get down to the coast for a whale watch. I've never been to my in-laws in May, and I'm hoping to see and photograph painted trillium and fringed polygala in bloom. You can keep in touch with our status by checking back here and by following OHTom at twitter. While we're in Maine, I've added my last five twitter updates to the blog's righy sidebar, so be sure to check twitter or here for the latest and greatest from the Pine Tree State. And the in-laws now have satellite internet, so I'll be uploading photos each day. Here are a few views from previous trips to Little Pond.

Aren't these skies grand? Go here for more Sky Watch Fridays.

Ok...This is addition. After talking about Weston, I realized I hadn't posted a picture of him in a while. As many of you are aware, babies grow amazingly fast and change quickly. Here is a shot from Thursday evening, May 21st.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Alvars and Lakeside Daisy

I've been surveying the Alvars, an extremely rare habitat type here in Ohio, for the Lakeside Daisy. Here's a rundown of this incredible habitat. An alvar is a very shallow soil system over limestone, dominated by red cedar and containing all kinds of extremely rare plants. In North America, Alvar communities are only know from a handful of locations near the Great Lakes shores of the U.S. and Canada.

Fossils from the Columbus Limestone, which is the top layer of limestone in the pictures above.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Killfawns to Be

Never heard of a killfawn? Well, simply put, what would a baby killdeer be? Certainly nothing other than a killfawn. One of the birds present in the gravel quarries of Marblehead are killdeer, and this mom was nesting right on the bare gravel, with only a few sprigs of spiked blazing star near her nest. Aren't those eggs precious?

They'll soon hatch, and the quarries of Marblehead will be filled with killfawns.

I'll be up on Ohio's north coast three more days this upcoming week, again censusing the Lakeside Daisy. I'm starting to see them everywhere I go, today, for example, in Huron County. But they're not Lakeside Daisies, they are only dandelions. That's what happens when the image of a plant gets burned into my brain.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Endangered Species Day- Lakeside Daisy

Have you seen Ohio's rarest wildflower? The Lakeside Daisy, Tetraneuris herbacea, a federally threatened species that we have right here in Ohio, has occupied quite a bit of my time lately. I'm part of a team that is censusing this rare wildflowers population in abandoned and active quarries in Marblehead, Ohio. I'll be heading up north early tomorrow morning once again. It is quite a plant, and if you can make it to Lakeside Daisy State Nature Preserve this weekend, it should still be blooming.

For more about endangered species day, visit the National Wildlife Federation.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Butter Butts

When we bought our new house last July, I looked up at our massive backyard bur oak and longed for spring. I hoped that the tree would drip with warblers one day. The gnarly old landmark of our street has that presence about it that I speculated would pull in migrating birds from miles around. At least, that is what I hoped and dreamed, on a hot, decidedly unbirdy Saturday in mid-summer.

We're on the backside of spring now, and the old bur oak did not disappoint. This past weekend, it was full of yellow-rumped warblers, affectionately known as "butter butts"- perhaps half a dozen at a time, foraging for insects amongst the young leaves and the long, stringy catkins of oak flowers.

Don't see the yellow patch on the bottom? Well, that's because it is actually on the back of the bird, which you can't see when your craning your neck straight up.

Here's a shot of a yellow rumped warbler from Sanibel Island that I captured in March, 2008, where you can barely see the yellow patch just below the tip of this bird's right wing.

Yellow-rumped warblers, along with a slew of other interesting species, are passing through Ohio right now. In fact, the major wave of colorful birds has probably already subsided. I was glad that I was able to give a few individuals respite in our backyard.