Monday, January 3, 2011

Waxwing and rare fern

Yesterday was the Hocking Hills Christmas Bird count, and I canvassed my assigned region along with Peter King, Heather Aubke, Nina Harfmann, and Gabe Leidy. We managed about 54 species - not a bad start to the New Year.

Sharp-eyed Gabe spotted a flock of about 75 Cedar Waxwings ravaging a line of ornamental fruit-bearing trees. We spent a bit of time admiring these debonair chaps - truly they rank high among the world's suavest of birds.

I had to spend some time firing off shots, while the waxwings regarded me with polite aloofness. They are far too civilized to shrilly scold, but one gets the feeling that somehow a mere person is below their rank. Beholden of manners far beyond most of their brethren, waxwings display extraordinary social graces for a bird. They are even known to pass fruit along to their mates.

This special locale seems to be an annual fixture on my blog, but so be it - I am always delighted to see that one of Ohio's two known colonies of Appalachian Filmy Fern, Trichomanes boschianum, still exists. Here, a throng of would-be fern enthusiasts adds a "life fern" to their as yet to be created fern life list: (l to R) Nina, Heather, and an astonished Peter.

It was my good fortune to discover that my assigned area for the bird count harbored the filmy fern, so it goes without saying that a visit is in order each winter. And even though it is cold, the fern still flourishes in its nearly subterranean haunts. I'd like to divulge its location to you, but I can't - you never know who is reading these things. Maybe a fern poacher.

It seemed to me that the patch of filmy fern had expanded ever so slightly since last winter. But there still isn't much, and its existence is a rather tenuous thing. If you'd like to read more of the Appalachian Filmy Fern, CLICK HERE.


rebecca said...

Very cool! I remember a professor showing me an unusual fern in Hocking Hills on a college botany field trip years ago, but I don't think it was that one. I really regret that I didn't make it down to that part of the state more often when I lived in Ohio.

Jim McCormac said...

Glad you liked the fern, Rebecca. If your prof did show you filmy fern, he was a true sophisticado and a heck of a pteridologist!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I have never seen such a fern. I will be looking under ever ledge I am aware of around here to see if any grow here. They are amazing little upsidedown plants.

Jim McCormac said...

Let me know if you find any, Lisa!

Heather said...

Hey, why don't those 2 guys have blogs?! :)

Love those Waxwing photos, especially the 2nd one b/c you can see how very colorful they are. My Filmy Fern photos did not come out so great, but I'll still post them. 'Twas a great day to be out and about observing great things in the Hocking Hills!

nina said...

The whole day was great, from a crescent moon at sunrise to this tender little bit of green hidden in a rocky ledge.
Winter is so often maligned.
I'm thankful for your posts of all the wonderful opportunities abounding in all seasons.
Getting my fern life-list in order....