Botany

Monarchs Are Welcome

I try to leave as much milkweed growing on the property as I can as an enticement for the monarch butterflies. It seems especially prolific in my blackberry patch. It makes picking the blackberries and mowing between the rows a little difficult, but the end result is worth it.

And the smell of a blooming milkweed flower is heavenly.

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Categories: Botany, Butterflies, Home, Insects | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Shades State Park – April 12, 2015

I stopped off at Shades State Park to refresh and recharge after spending the past two days presenting at the Women’s Wellness Weekend at Turkey Run State Park.

I walked trails 9 and 1 Just short trails but needed to have some time alone. I did run into five ladies from the WWW who had attended our workshops and walks. Had a great talk with them.

And as I walked along the lower part of Trail 1, I met up with a couple who saw a chipmunk attack a snake. The snake lost – the chipmunk bit its head off!

The Canada geese have again made a nest under the observation platform at Prospect Point. Parent was sitting on the nest.  Interestingly, there were two eggs back off the platform behind the “Hiker” sign. Curious.

Plants seen:

  1. Cut-leaf Toothwort
  2. Trout Lily
  3. Bloodroot
  4. Spring Beauties
  5. Dutchman’s Breeches (including a pink version – Does that make it Dutchwoman’s breeches?)
  6. Squirrel Corn
  7. False Rue Anemone
  8. Purple Violets
  9. Toadshade AKA Sessile Trillium
  10. Phlox
  11. Young Jack in the Pulpits
  12. Purple Cress
Categories: Birding, Botany, First of Year, Montgomery County, Shades State Park, Spring, State Parks Indiana | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Women’s Wellness Weekend

April 12, 2015 – Women’s Wellness Weekend at Turkey Run State Park

Once again this year another Indiana Master Naturalist and I volunteered at the Women’s Wellness Weekend at Turkey Run State Park. We led two wildflower hikes – one on Saturday morning and one Sunday morning. We also presented the Native Edible and Medicinal Plants workshop. Jackie is a professional photographer and she presented the Nature Photography workshop.

After a few technical snafus, our workshops went well. We had good groups and very positive feedback.

I was surprised at the different wildflowers from when my daughter and I hiked on Monday! We only saw one Salt and Pepper (Harbinger of Spring) in bloom as opposed to hundreds or thousands!

Wildflowers Seen over the two hikes:

  1. Cut-leaf Toothwort
  2. Trout Lily
  3. Bloodroot
  4. Spring Beauties
  5. Dutchman’s Breeches
  6. Squirrel Corn
  7. False Rue Anemone
  8. Purple Violets
  9. Toadshade AKA Sessile Trillium
  10. Phlox –
  11. Purple Trillium
  12. Purple Cress -not yet in flower
  13. Virginia Blue Bell
  14. Water leaf – not yet in flower
  15. Wild Ginger
  16. Salt & Pepper (1 plant)
  17. Bell flower
  18. Hepatica
  19. Nodding Trillium – not yet in flower
  20. Trillium species – not yet in flower
  21. May apple – bud just coming on

Birds Seen:

  1. Pileated Woodpeckers (2)
  2. Blue Jay
  3. Cardinal
  4. Tufted Titmouse
  5. Chickadee
  6. Phoebe
  7. Canada Geese
  8. Red Tailed Hawk – light morph
  9. White Breasted Nuthatch
Categories: Birding, Botany, First of Year, Parke County, State Parks Indiana, Turkey Run State Park | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Leaves

 Oaks and hickories do not drop their leaves in the Fall like most other tree species. They hang onto them through the winter into the Spring.

I found this tree among several young hickories in our yard on the trail to the post box all holding onto last year’s leaves.  Note the new leaves among last year’s.

  

 

Categories: Birding, Botany, Montgomery County, Spring | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Spring Ephemerals

Monday was an impromptu hike at Turkey Run State Park. I originally was going to hike down from the Lusk Home and over the Narrows Covered Bridge and onto Trail 2 like I usually do to see Skunk Cabbage blooming.

This time we decided to walk Trail 1 from the Nature Center and back on Trail 2 for an absolutely wonderful hike.

As usual I picked up litter along the way.

I was trying out a new macro lens for my iPhone–a Christmas gift from hubby and daughter this Christmas. It’s an olloclip 3-in-One Photo Lens.

I used to think “Salt and Pepper” or Harbinger-of-Spring was hard to find, but it is everywhere. I saw it Saturday at the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum and it was along the path from the Turkey Run Inn and along our route on Trails 1 & 2.

We saw several early flowers and learned a new one.

  • Dutchman’s Breeches
  • Salt and Pepper/Harbinger-of-Spring
  • Spring Beauty
  • Skunk Cabbage
  • Purple Cress
  • Spicebush (in bloom!)

Birds we saw on the hike:

  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Chickadee
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Robin
  • Kingfisher
  • Nuthatch
  • Crows
  • Blue Jays
  • Red-headed Woodpecker
  • Canada Geese
  • Phoebe

We also saw two juvenile bald eagles sitting in a tree near Lake Waveland on our way down.

Categories: Birding, Botany, First of Year, Parke County, Spring, State Parks Indiana, Turkey Run State Park | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dandelions in Winter

My Dad told me one time that he had seen dandelions blooming every month of the year. Since then, I have been on the lookout for them during the winter. It is wonderful to see such a bright color in the drab, muddy winter!
Below is a picture of one on January 19th.

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Categories: Botany, Montgomery County | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Indiana Dunes State Park

September 15, 2014

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Even though the day dawned cool and rainy, we decided to proceed with Stephanie’s plans to drive to Lake Michigan and get our “lake fix.” We had been needing this for quite a while and just hadn’t been able to make it happen.

We drove first to Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center, which is an excellent nature center that always deserves a stop.

Our next stop was the Pavilion and Beach house where we ate our meager lunch on one of the benches as we looked out over the gorgeous lake. Although the wind was a brisk and chilly 56 degrees, we observed probably three dozen or more monarch butterflies migrating east to west along the southern shore of Lake Michigan.

There were several gulls on the beach. The one closest to us was very territorial and put up a squawk as only a gull can do, whenever another gull came into its area. I am not good at gull id at all, but I am fairly sure they were ring-billed.

We then walked up to the fairly new Bird Observation Platform. On our way up, a flock of crows was mobbing either a sharp-shinned or a cooper’s hawk. We couldn’t get a good fix on it as it disappeared amongst the pines.

We next took Trail 3 through the Dunes Prairie Nature Preserve. Wow, what a neat area! I know monarch butterflies are in decline and even threatened, but one could not tell by the numbers present at Dunes this day! The Prairie Preserve was absolutely filled with them! We couldn’t hazard a guess as to the numbers. There were even plants – goldenrod? – that had 3 or 4 on them.

After hiking along the board walk on the trail to the campground, we left for the beach at New Buffalo, Michigan, where we were entertained by more gulls.

Unfortunately we had to hit the road. We were glad the rain held off until we were back on the road.

 

Monarch butterflies on goldenrod

Monarchs on goldenrod

 

Categories: Botany, Butterflies, Indiana Dunes State Park, Insects, State Parks Indiana | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Prophetstown State Park

September 8, 2014

The day started out fairly cool, but quickly warmed up under pure blue skies and bright sunshine. And the mosquitoes sure were out in force today in the woods.

I wish I knew my dragonflies better, but I don’t need to know their names to enjoy their beauty! If anyone out there can id – feel free to leave me a comment. Sometimes, they even rest long enough to capture a photo of them.

Stephanie noticed a shadow pass over and she looked up and spotted an adult bald eagle. It circled higher and higher until it was out of our sight.

This park is wonderful to hike in especially when the temperatures are cooler – even on a cold, but sunny day. One of my fondest memories of this park is when we held a family Thanksgiving Day picnic with my sisters.

 

Birds seen:

  • American Crow
  • American Robin
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Red-tailed hawk
  • Tree Swallow
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Mystery bird!
Categories: Birding, Botany, Insects, Prophetstown State Park, State Parks Indiana, Tippecanoe County | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Signs of Spring

What are the signs of Spring to you? I have a few touchstone species that always give me hope in the midst of the cold, wintry and very long February!

Robins. I saw my first one on the property this year on January 31. Although they are not my definitive species as we generally have overwintering robins in some of the surrounding cities, I still like to see them.

Skunk Cabbage. Any plant that can bloom in the midst of the icy marsh has my vote as a harbinger of Spring. Check out Jim McCormac’s blog post about skunk cabbage and my previous mentions of this species…

Skunks. Always noticeable this time of year are all the dead skunks in the middle of the road! And also very noticeable the other evening was the smell of the skunk on our front and back porches. One probably ran into the fat opossums eating out of my tray feeder.

Killdeer. We heard our first killdeer of the year as we were hanging up the kestrel box on Sunday.

Turkey Vultures. We always are quite excited to see our first turkey vultures of the year, which we saw February 17 this year. There is nothing like watching turkey vultures lazily drifting in the thermals on a sunny day. I often wish I could be up there with them being lifted and turned by the warm thermals.

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

Eagles In Flight Weekend at Turkey Run State Park

Icicles on Sugar CreekSaturday morning, day 2 of Eagles in Flight Weekend, we set off for Turkey Run as I volunteered to sit for a couple of hours at the Event Table for the Friends of Turkey Run and Shades State Park Organization who sponsors the weekend. It was a snowy day; probably an inch had fallen by the time we left home at 7 AM. After my shift, daughter and I sat in on Alan Bruner’s workshop on Keys to Identification of Common Raptors in the Turkey Run Area. For those who don’t know Alan. He is involved with the Indiana Audubon Society and a birder extraordinaire!

2013 First Skunk Cabbage

We then left the main part of the park and drove to the Lusk Home/NarrowsCovered Bridge on an annual pilgrimage on Trail 1 to a couple of places where a spring causes boggy areas. We always check here for our first sighting of skunk cabbage blooming. This tradition dates back to my childhood forays to this area with my dad in late winter or very early spring.

We had a hard time spotting the bloom, as usual, but finally found one blooming. This is the earliest we have actually looked for the plant, but did so because of a blogpost I read by Jim McCormac, an Ohio naturalist   . Our previous dates were: 2/20/13; 3/19/11; 3/20/10.  (Note: this doesn’t mean we saw the bloom earlier this year, just that we searched for it earlier this year!)

Carolina WrenOn Trail 1, we saw:

  • Carolina Wren
  • Chickadee
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Downy Woodpecker

Our species list on our way home by way of Clinton Falls and Rockville were:

  • American Kestrel- 6
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 7
  • American Crows
  • Turkey Vultures
  • Red-shouldered Hawk – 2
  • Bald Eagle

At the Rock River Landing in Crawfordsville, we saw an Adult Bald Eagle close by the nest.

Rock River Landing Eagle

Categories: Birding, Botany, First of Year, Parke County, State Parks Indiana, Turkey Run State Park | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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