A romp through the diverse flora and fauna of Ohio. From Timber Rattlesnakes to Prairie Warblers to Lakeside Daisies to Woodchucks, you'll eventually see it here, if it isn't already.
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Natural History weekend - Presque Isle, Michigan
White Cedar, Thuja occidentalis, form an interesting boreal habitat that supports many bird speices and spectacular plant life in Michigan's Presque Isle County.
On the weekend of May 21 - 23, I'll be leading forays in stunning Presque Isle County, Michigan. We'll be based out of NettieBay Lodge, which allows for a life of luxury and excellent food when we're not afield.
Scenic Presque Isle County sits in the far northeastern corner of Michigan's lower peninsula, hard on the shores of the 2nd largest Great Lake, Lake Huron. This is the edge of the vast boreal forest, and there are extensive cedar swamps and other conifer-dominated forests, as well as fascinating habitats such fens, which support many interesting plants and animals. Long stretches of sandy beaches along Huron add to the diversity, and in places support breeding Piping Plovers.
The county breeding bird list is extensive, and includes Common Loons yodeling on the lakes, Golden-winged Warblers among 20+ other breeding warblers, Upland Sandpiper, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hermit Thrush, and over 100 others. On Sunday, we'll drop a bit to the south and visit the Jack Pine habitats to see and hear Kirtland's Warblers.
It'll be a fantastic time for spring flora, and the wildflowers will be a bit of a distraction. We'll see various orchids and such northern beauties as Fringed Milkwort, Polygala paucifolia, and Bunchberry, Cornus canadensis. The whole experience should be a riot for the senses, and a great way to learn more about birds and other elements of natural history.
We are keeping this event to a small group size so as to maximize the experience and the learning opportunities. For more information, and to register, please visit the NettieBay Lodge site HERE.
Sandy dunes and beaches along beautiful Lake Huron offer some interesting habitats in Presque Isle County.
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. …
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…
A gorgeous juvenile female snowy owl briefly catches your narrator with its piercing gaze. It's doing its Linda Blair/Exorcist trick - twisting its head 180 degrees to look straight behind. Owls have 14 neck vertebrae - double our number - which allows them such flexibility.
These visitors from the high arctic have irrupted big time into Ohio and adjacent regions, with new birds coming to light nearly every day. Probably 80 or so have thus far been reported in the state, and some of them have stuck around favored spots and become local celebrities.
I went to visit one of these birds this morning - the animal above, which was found last Friday by Doug Overacker and Julie Karlson at C.J. Brown Reservoir near Springfield. In the four days since its discovery, many people have visited as is nearly always the case when one of these white wonders appears near a large population center or is otherwise very accessible.
And as is always the case, people want to photograph the owls. And th…