For the fifth year running, the event known as Flora-Quest is back and better than ever. Held in the heart of the vast woodlands of Ohio's Shawnee State Forest, this is hands-down one of the most rewarding immersions into natural history that one could ask for. "F-Q" takes place over the weekend of April 29 to May 1 - a time when Shawnee is lush with growth, full of birds, and lots of other interesting fauna.
If you've not been to Ohio or have spent little time here, and love natural history, I really encourage you to consider attending F-Q. There are very few places in the eastern U.S. that can rival Shawnee State Forest and vicinity in terms of sheer plant diversity, rare species, great honking globs of butterflies, and over 100 breeding bird species, most in big numbers.
The event is organized to the nth degree and run flawlessly, and it's not like you'll be stuffed in some drafty tent - unless you want to be. Base camp is the wonderful lodge at Shawnee State Park, which is as nice as about any hotel, with a restaurant, and bar! Plus, there'll be Luna moths stuck to the side of the building when you emerge in the morning, and you'll be able to hear Cerulean Warblers singing from your room.
Plants are the focus of Flora-Quest; Exhibit A above. There are ten "Quests", each led by a pair of extremely knowledgeable botanists/naturalists who know the region like the back of their hand. The group above is clambering around an old, remote cemetery that is carpeted with Indian-paintbrush, Castilleja coccinea, in spring. Each Quest has a subfocus, such as birds, aquatic life, geology, etc. Come on mine, for instance, and I will guarantee you will see MANY birds.
Thus, Flora-Quest is really a fabulous hands-on workshop in ecology, taught by people who really know their stuff and are good at conveying that knowledge to others. After the field trips are over at day's end, it's either party central at the lodge or we can head out and look for Whip-poor-wills, scads of cool amphibians such as Mountain Chorus Frogs, and possibly even a Bobcat or Bigfoot.
If you want to start spring with a bang, sign on to Flora-Quest soon. Spaces are limited, to keep field trips down to a level that ensures great leader to participant ratios, so check in soon.
All of the details are RIGHT HERE. Hope to see you there!