Monday, August 5, 2013

Daughmer Savanna excursion

Daughmer Savanna, a place that I've written about before, such as HERE, and HERE. The conservation of this magnificent oak savanna was the greatest event in Ohio conservation in calendar year 2010. It may only be 34 acres, but Daughmer is a living museum of Ohio's prairie past; an irreplaceable museum of natural history.

The Crawford County Park District, which oversees Daughmer Savanna, and I have been trying to put together a field trip to the site for over a year, and finally last Saturday was the day. Following is a brief sketch of our foray.

Photo: Cheryl Harner

We were quite surprised when 42 people showed up to explore the savanna! Their attendant vehicles taxed the limits of the available parking, and a bit of parking control was required. Fortunately, other experts were on hand to help, including Cheryl Harner, who made this image and was instrumental in the protection of Daughmer. She just wrote a nice post about the savanna, HERE.

Josh Dyer and Bill Fisher of Crawford County Parks were also on hand, and we were able to spread ourselves through the line and pass along useful info. I think everyone had a pretty good time and saw lots of interesting things. It took us about 2.5 hours to traverse the relatively short loop trail, and I don't think anyone bailed out early!

In addition to piles of cool plants - including towering 250 year old oaks - we saw lots of bugs. Such as this Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes. Some of these critters became the focus of an army of camera-equipped paparazzi, including this swallowtail. Scores of photos were made of the beautiful butterfly. I only clicked off a handful of images during the trip, as it's hard to engage in photography when working with a large group. Nonetheless, I rather liked the way this underview of the swallowtail emerged. It is nectaring on abundant Virginia Mountain Mint, Pycnanthemum virginianum, which also attracts scores of other pollinators.

At one point, I spotted some funny-looking wings sticking out from under a leaf, and it turned out they belonged to this gem, a Primrose Moth, Schinia florida. Pink and yellow flying objects always pique people's interest, and once again the crowd bristled with cameras and produced a sea of clicks. I would venture to say that this unsuspecting little moth may be the world's most photographed Primrose Moth.

Josh Dyer - hat, hand in air - holds the group's interest with a discussion about prairie savanna management techniques. It is one thing to hear a talk about such topics indoors somewhere, but quite another (and vastly better) to hear a professional discuss such things in the very spot in which the management takes place.

Photo: Cheryl Harner

Your blogger is flanked by (front) Bill Fisher, Director of the Crawford County Park District, and Josh Dyer, naturalist with CCPD and an essential and irreplaceable component of the organization. If you click the pic to expand it, you can see that tiny little Primrose Moth riding on my upper arm. It proved to be quite tame and came along for the ride.

Last year, the voting citizenry of Crawford County did a great thing for the county and its residents, both present and future, by passing the park district's first levy. That funding helped make the protection and stewardship of Daughmer Savanna a reality, and let the district continue and expand its excellent programming. Most of the people on this trip were residents of Crawford County, and I got to speak to a number of them. It was gratifying to hear all of the positive comments about the Crawford County Park District and the outstanding work that Bill, Josh and the other employees do.

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