Skip to main content

Shawnee Explodes!

With life, as it does every spring. On a recent visit to the sprawling 65,000-acre Shawnee State Forest, spring had returned with a vengeance and eveything from birds to butterflies to plants were there in droves. I can never get enough of this place; it is the closest true wilderness that is accessible to my overly-developed suburbia-dominated landscape of Columbus, Ohio. Here, we've destroyed nearly every natural feature of note. There, next to no development can be found - just massive wild landscapes.

Worm-eating Warbler belts out his dry, husky trill with all the vigor of his more tropical-looking brethren, such as Hooded Warblers. Both species were back in abundance. Worm-eaters are more sluggish and methodical than most warblers. They use their relatively heavy spike-like bill to probe through hanging clusters of dead leaves for caterpillars, spiders and the lot. Quite the specialist are they when it comes to feeding habits. I've seen them numerous times in their tropical wintering haunts, and they feed the same way there.

There were more birders at Shawnee this day than I think I've ever encountered there. The place is certainly on the birding radar screen these days. One was Troy Shively, who located some Silvery Blues. These small butterflies are a bit larger than Eastern Tailed-Blues, with which they sometimes fraternize, but are easily distinguished by the row of conspicuous black dots on their underwings.
Dorsal, or upper, surface of the Silvery Blue. Quite a show-stopper if on a tiny scale. And one must often work hard for any sort of photo. We were scrambling about on our kness and bellies like fools trying to record this beast. Almst as if taunting us, he'd allow for a decently close approach, then wing off out of range. Many times this was repeated.

This is the herbal magic that makes Silvery Blues tick. Their primary host plant appears to be Carolina Wood Vetch, Vicia caroliniana, and knowing this plant is the secret to finding the butterfly. Just locate the vetch, then look for the blue. Both species have rather limited southern ranges in Ohio.

A short while back, I blogged about the beatiful and extraordinarily rare Goldenstar lily, Erythronium rostratum. Well, here's what it looks like now. It's in full fruit. That's the odd-looking capsule resting on the ground.

The specific epithet rostratum means "beaked" and refers to the protruberance on the capsule. It's the only trout lily to have a beaked fruit. Any plant that purposely puts its fruit on the ground like this is seeking ground-dwelling seed dispersers. Likely, as so often the case, ants are the ones that move this plant about. Without ants, I suspect our forests would fade away...

Comments

nina said…
I'm overdue for a trip to Shawnee--it's a bit further than we usually opt for our hikes.

But, it's nice to see what you've found here. This season holds so much beauty, and so much change--wait a day, and it's gone!

Really enjoy your site.
Nina at Nature Remains

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Ballooning spiders

Fear not, ye arachnophobes. The subject of this entry is indeed about spiders, but the star of the show is about as cute as a spider can get. And you'll want to know what we're about to learn...

On my recent West Virginia foray, we were strolling down a seldom-used lane, when a bright yellow object caught our eye. It was a goldenrod crab spider, Misumena vatia, on top of a post! Not only that, she - it is a girl - was acting extraordinarily goofy. The spider would stilt up as high as she could go on her legs, weave back and forth, jig side to side, and otherwise engage in what appeared to be spider break-dancing.

Click the pic for expansion, and you can see two columns of silk issuing from her spinnerets. This is an important point, as we set about determining what this non-web-making spider is doing.


So fixated was our spider on her task that she even rejected what would seem to me to be a perfectly scrumptious meal. This little caterpillar climbed rapidly up the post and dire…