Harbinger of Spring

I grew up knowing it as Salt and Pepper (Erigenia bulbosa). Beautiful day Saturday at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum. Great place for both flowers and birds. And of course, history!

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Categories: First Of Year, Montgomery County, Spring | Tags: | Leave a comment

Looking to the East

Sunset’s glow on the eastern woodlot.

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Brrrrrr!

This morning’s low was  -14 degrees with a windchill of -40 degrees at 8:30. The roads were clear, but it was brutal here in central Indiana. Even the colleges were closed for the day. Our high was -2 around 5:30 this afternoon.

SAC and I are always watching our feeder birds, as are our indoor cats. SAC spotted these three. (Notice the Mourning Dove photobombing in one pic?)

 

Why are they here? We had seen one resident robin several times this winter, but had no idea we had three. I wonder how many more are lurking in the spruce windbreak or the woodlot!?

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First Day Hike – 2019

Sometimes it is hard, as introverts, to go on a hike with a group of people. Daughter and I decided to go to Cecil M. Hardin (Raccoon Lake State Recreation Area) for our 2019 First Day Hike. They were having a hike to the former site of the town Portland Mills, and since SAC is an historian, she thought it sounded fascinating. We found out about this one almost too late and we arrived at the gatehouse 3 minutes late. But they left a marker board as to where we needed to go – Back out to the highway the way we came!

Driving the backroads for awhile and then came to a complete stop with 20 or 30 cars in front of us. As the line slowly snaked to the designated parking area, I noticed another long line of cars on a short road to our right. I looked at daughter and she looked at me, and then we drove on to Shades State Park.

The parking lot had a gathering of cars, people, and dogs. SAC and I decided to go to another parking lot and hike on our own!!!

We knew, from the amount of precipitation we’d had that the trails would be sloppy and muddy. We took an easy trail – Trail 9 – and went to the Youth Camp. We had been wanting to see how it had changed in the decades since we had tent camped in a hot open field! It had grown up quite a bit, as we had imagined. We noticed several trees that had been cut down.

We had a modest bird list:

  • Tufted Titmice
  • American Crows
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Red-Bellied Woodpecker
  • White Breasted Nuthatch
  • Chickadees
  • Carolina Wren
  • Blue Jays

We had a nice chat with a DNR employee and found out that yes, the trees cut down were Ash – all killed by Emerald Ash Borer. We also shared different favorite places to hike and what we carry in our day packs. He recommended we visit southern Illinois for the Shawnee National Forest and gave us several good locations to check out. Funny timing, as I had just read a series of blog posts by the Illinois Botanizer, who completed a River-to-River hike. Just a really enjoyable talk.

We then hiked the other leg of Trail 9 and then onto Hickory Parking lot and the top of Trail 1. (Hiking the top is a must-do each visit to Shades). After 1.5 inches of rain the day before, Sugar Creek was up and flowing fast. It would be a fast canoe ride today! We smelled a skunk as we walked around on the trail.

We decided as we walked over the boardwalk/bridges across Devil’s Punch Bowl that we had to go down to see the waterfalls going into the Punch Bowl. It had been a long time since we had seen that much water coming over the two falls. It was worth the climb up and down all those steps.

I always like to start my year on a First Day Hike. It sets the tone for the rest of the year. Although it was overcast and 37 degrees, it was a nice, pleasant hike.

 

 

Categories: Birding, First Of Year, Hiking, Montgomery County, Shades State Park | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#Opt Out Friday

The day after Thanksgiving is to us, HIKE FRIDAY! A newish movement in conjunction with R.E.I. is #optout Friday.

Daughter and I went to Pine Hills to spend our day after Thanksgiving. It was in the 40s and overcast, but we quickly warmed up as we hiked over to Pine Hills on Trail 10 in Shades State Park.

We spent about 2 hours hiking around this fascinating area. We saw our loyal birds:

  • Juncos
  • Chickadees
  • White-Breasted Nuthatches
  • Tufted Titmice
  • Red-Headed woodpeckers
  • Red-Bellied Woodpeckers
  • Crows
  • Turkey Vultures
  • Blue Jays

After a morning of hiking, we had a late lunch at #EatINN – the Turkey Run State Park Inn.

Wonderful food and a walk to the nature center and back and then home.

 

Categories: Birding, Hiking, Montgomery County, Parke County, Shades State Park, Turkey Run State Park | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jewels

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Great Birthday!

There is nothing like a hike in the sunshine on your birthday! Great day at Prophetstown State Park!

Fluffy Milkweed seeds frozen in ice on pond.

Categories: Birding, Hiking, Prophetstown State Park, State Parks Indiana, Tippecanoe County | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Autumn Glory

Fall colors arrived a few weeks late – still in the 80s in October. But the trees are in their glory despite the hot weather, rain and high winds!

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Argiope Aurantia

The common Yellow Garden Spider is back. We haven’t seen any for several years at our property and were convinced the massive orb weavers were taking over in their place. One main difference, according to my arachnophobe daughter is that Garden Spiders are “quite civilized” and keep their webs in one area and most often knee level.

I also just found out doing my research that the Yellow Garden Spider IS an orb weaver, but the Brown Orb weavers are adept at putting their webs in different spaces and weaving them in common walkways, attempting to (in my daughter’s words) eat your face off when you walk from the house to the garage or from the door to the garden or the patio or the…. You get the picture. There is a reason the Man of the House gets to mow in the fall!!!!

 

This summer we have a beautiful girl with her beautiful web at the corner of our garage where no one walks. The Arachnophobe was actually the one who spotted her first, and to my shock, she actually crowed with delight! (To be fair, while SAC is terrified of spiders, she does realize they are mostly harmless at worst and actively beneficial at best. She just prefers they keep to their habitat and stay out of hers.)

The Yellow Garden Spider has the zigzag white center in her web that is called a stabilimentum. She has laid two egg sacs. In reading at the website below, I finally found out something about these spiders. The mother will die before the babies hatch, which happens in the fall. They spend the winter in the egg sac and leave in the spring.

 

I also found out that the male is small, which is common in the spider world, and not as brightly coloured. I wasn’t sure, but thought that the other spider in the web was the male. Now I’m sure.

I definitely need to get a book about spiders in Indiana!

 

A few good resources:

https://www.insectidentification.org/insect-description.asp?identification=Black-and-Yellow-Garden-Spider

Spider Season is Upon Us – A Guide to Spiders of Indiana:  https://spiderid.com/spider/araneidae/argiope/aurantia/

https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/spider-chart

Categories: Arachnids, Home, Montgomery County | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Monarch Swarm

Our small property is a haven for wildlife. We let milkweed grow wherever it lands.

I came home from work yesterday afternoon and went walking around after getting the mail-just enjoying the gorgeous fall weather.

I noticed quite a few monarchs flying around the zinnias. When I tried to count, there were more than 15. I kept losing count. (The “fly” in butterfly, you know!!)

Next year we hope to tag them! Stay tune for tagging post in days to come!

Categories: Butterflies, Montgomery County | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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