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Showing posts from June, 2013

Rare plants of Cedar Bog

This is the scene shortly after entering Cedar Bog via its fabled boardwalk. Most of the plant species in this shot are, if not downright rare, uncommon at best. Cedar Bog is a treasure trove of rarities; a botanical paradise quite unlike any other habitat in Ohio.

I'm giving a presentation on the rare plants of Cedar Bog on Saturday, July 13 at 10 am in their fabulous new visitor's center. It costs a whopping $6.00 ($5.00) if you are a member of the Cedar Bog Association (and you should be!). Proceeds go to benefit the bog and its management, of course. All of the details ARE HERE. I've been visiting and studying the place for years, and will share photos of Cedar Bog's habitats and botanical denizens, as well as the story of its existence and why this habitat and its plants are so rare now, at least in Ohio. Perhaps best of all, following the talk we'll have lunch, then head out the back door and onto the boardwalk to see scores of interesting plants (and animal…

Carolina Wren, in geraniums

For the first time in a long time, I ran a Breeding Bird Survey route. BBS birding is intense. The surveyor must begin at sunrise (my starting time was 5:32 am), and drive a 25 mile route, stopping for precisely three minutes every half mile. During the three minute stop, the observer is to record all birds seen and heard, and that can be a challenge, especially when the dawn chorus is in full swing. It's great practice, and makes one really look and listen, oftentimes in places and habitats that might not normally be visited. The data contributes to a massive pool - BBS surveys have been ongoing since 1966, and provide an excellent barometer of the health of North America's breeding birds. My route extends on a north-south trajectory through rural Hardin County, ending at the massive Findlay Reservoir in Hancock County. I made the run last Friday, and tallied about 71 species - not bad for farm country. This rural run reinforced how Vesper Sparrows thrive in highly agricultu…

Biden's Grass-Veneer: a life moth, and a mystery

This book could be the death of me, I'll tell you. Now, finally, we've got a great guide to the moths (or many of them), featuring excellent full color photos. It's fun (for me) to page through looking at all of the neat moths that fill the pages. To be honest, most of my paging occurs when I'm trying to identify something, and have to flip through nearly every page on the book before making a match. Do that enough times, and you'll get somewhat acquainted with the guide's subjects.

Sometimes, one of the moths jumps from the page and really grabs my eye. For some reason, the species at the bottom of page 147 did just that: Biden's Grass-Veneer, Crambus bidens. The grass-veneers are mostly small and undistinguished, and some are regular visitors to nightlights. I get them on my porch, occasionally. But this veneer was different. It was splashy in a quite unveneerlike way, and I instantly wanted to see one.


Saturday, June 22, 2013 found me in Brown's Lake…

Bobolinks at Byers Woods

Your narrator (R) and Mr. Big Year, Greg Miller, flank Marcia Rubin in front of the sign that informs readers about the Bobolink Mecca in the backdrop. I was in Ashland County last Saturday to participate in the 8th annual Bobolinks at Byers Woods event. We three were a wee part of the some 120 attendees that converged on this 130-acre Ashland County Park District holding to celebrate that most interesting of blackbirds, the Bobolink.

This park has an interesting history, full of the flotsam and jetsam of north-central Ohio society. The majority of Byers Woods - in spite of the silviculturally based name - is an old landfill. It's capped, grassed over, and sprouts methane vent tubes. And Bobolinks, along with other grassland breeding birds, love the place. I first saw the area 16 years ago, before it was a park. Along with Louise Fleming from Greater Mohican Audubon Society, I toured the freshly sealed landfill with a couple of the county park guys and we discussed possible envir…

A serpent comes into focus

Yesterday was a great day, with lots of field time. It all started with "Bobolinks at Byer's Woods" in Ashland County. This event is organized by Greater Mohican Audubon Society, and has been running for six or eight years. I've got some interesting photos from that and will share some later, along with the story of the festival. Following the conclusion of Bobs at Byer's, it was off to do some fieldwork at Mohican State Forest and Brown's Lake Bog, where I had specific target animals and plants in mind. We saw lots of stuff, and I made many a photograph of course, including images of some of our rarer orchids. It was a HOT day, with temperatures soaring to 89 degrees and accompanied by high humidity. After a solid nine or ten hours out, it felt good to stay indoors today and catch up on myriad tasks. As always happens when afield, other interesting species popped up. While exploring a trail along a small stream deep within Mohican State Forest, Marcia Rubin…

Mothapalooza: a recap

A group works a mothing sheet late at night, deep in the woods at Shawnee State Forest. Our recent Mothapalooza event saw about 150 attendees visit the lodge at Shawnee State Park, right in the thick of the aforementioned 65,000 acre forest. In my estimation, and that of nearly all of the people who have attended from what I have heard, the event was a success. We are currently mulling over the possibility of holding Mothapalooza II next June. All of us involved in Mothapalooza I would love to pull the trigger now and commit to next year, but conducting events like this is an enormous amount of work. So, we'll see...

Anyway, I wanted to share a few more photos from Mothapalooza, and give some richly deserved thanks to people and organizations that made it possible.

Looking a bit like a chunk of stratified bedrock, this Common Lytrosis, Lytrosis unitaria, was a regular visitor to the sheets. By the way, when I say "sheets", I mean specially deployed white sheets or drop …

Caterpillars and moths

I've got moths on my mind, and probably will for some time. The giant lepidopteran fest known as Mothapalooza will do that. We saw so many species in so many different groups of organisms at Mothapalooza that I could write about it and share photos for weeks, probably. But I'll not do that. Life goes on, and I'll soon be immersed in new adventures, and seeing new things. I do want to make two more posts about the Mothapaloozian weekend, though. This little charmer was a crowd pleaser, and we were lucky in that several of these outrageously fuzzy beasts appeared at the mothing sheets. It is the Black-waved Flannel Moth, Lagoa crispata, a well-named animal. The moth appears to be covered in flannel of the softest sort, and its sides are adorned with wavy black stripes. It reminds me of a tiny winged sheep. And check the antennae on this moth! It is a male, and I can only imagine its ability to sniff out female pheromones is magnificent.

We also had some luck finding caterpi…

Mothapalooza - it worked!

A group of moth'ers inspects the bounty at a light sheet deep in Shawnee State Forest, around midnight last night. The sheet was covered with myriad moths of many different species.

The landmark Mothapalooza event took place over the weekend, and what an event it turned out to be! Approximately 150 moth (and nature) enthusiasts converged on Shawnee State Park in southern Ohio for an action-packed and probably unprecedented mothing event, at least in terms of size and scale. People from ten or twelve states - as far as Nebraska, Connecticut, and Florida - and Canada made the scene, and saw lots of cool stuff.

When we hatched this idea last year, we had no idea so many people would be interested. But we're glad that they were, and I think that everyone had a really great time. The hours were certainly odd - the primary field trips were nocturnal, of course, and departed at 9:15 pm. Some groups did not return until 2 am or thereabouts!

The Mothapalooza team deployed mothing stat…

Black Kingsnake!

Last Saturday, I put in a marathon day in one of my favorite parts of the world - southern Ohio's diverse Adams County. I got down there at 9 am, and met up with John Howard at his house, which sits in the midst of lots of GOOD STUFF. We explored far and wide that day, in part scouting things for this weekend's Mothapalooza. After dinner, John turned me on to a "life" dragonfly, the Stygian Shadowdragon, Neurocordulia yamaskanensis. These things are cool as can be, coming out to fly for a brief period from dusk until dark. We saw many of them at fingertip range hunting over Ohio Brush Creek, and if all goes well we'll have one in the hand tomorrow night, and I'll make some photos - that's about the only way you'll get a camera on one of these beasts. After the shadowdragons, we worked until nearly midnight at John's moth traps, recording many interesting things. I rolled back into my driveway around 2 am that morning. When John and I get afield, …