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Showing posts from January, 2015

Wildlife Diversity Conference: March 11

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, March 11. That's the date of this year's Ohio Wildlife Diversity Conference, hosted by the Ohio Division of Wildlife. This is the BIG one - about 1,000 nature enthusiasts of all stripes come together for what must be one of the largest one-day natural history conferences anywhere. The conference location couldn't be more convenient - it's in Columbus and right off the freeway at the cavernous Aladdin Shriners' Complex at 3850 Stelzer Road. CLICK HERE to register.
There are exhibitors, artists, vendors, authors, and legions of like-minded people all rooting for nature and conservation. And of course, the talks, which cover a range of subjects. The Division usually unveils some sort of surprise for participants, and this year I do believe there will be two! I can say no more at this point, but let's say that these gifts should serve any natural history buff quite well.
A group of naturalists explores an Adams County prairie, l…

The bizarre world of the supranivean zone (snow insects)

Yesterday was a work day, more or less. I left before the crack of dawn to meet other planning committee members who are involved with organizing Mothapalooza. We spent a good chunk of the day at the Eulett Center in Adams County tightening down various nuts and bolts before opening registration in a few weeks. Special thanks to Mary Ann Barnett for ably overseeing this event, and efficiently running yesterday's meeting. This will be our third Mothapalooza, and you'll not want to miss it. CLICK HERE for a brief recap of the last one. I'll let you know when registration opens.

As I entered the Pike County region on my way south, the landscape transformed into a winter wonderland. A soft blanket of snow capped every twig, branch, and other structure, creating stunning vistas at every turn. Fortunately, I had built in some extra time, and stopped at a particularly photogenic locale to make some landscape images.

The persistent calyces of witch-hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, su…

Annual winter Raptor Day at the Wilds

Our group pauses along a little-traveled road through wide open spaces on American Electric Power land bordering the Wilds. We were looking for various raptors, Short-eared Owls, and whatever might come along.

Yesterday was the 11th annual Ohio Ornithological Society field trip to the Wilds. The OOS began this traditional field trip soon after its founding in 2004, and it has remained wildly popular. About 120 birders from all over the state showed up yesterday, and that's the maximum number that can be handled. It's been like that about every year. The only one that I can recall significant numbers of no-shows was the year that the thermometer read -12 F (MINUS TWELVE) at the rendezvous site in the morning. About 30 or so people decided to skip out that time.

Frigid temperatures were not an issue yesterday. The thermometer rose to a balmy 51 degrees at the high point. As always, the day was great fun, and thanks to the OOS, all of the field trip leaders (eight separate group…

Lapland Longspurs, galore!

A flurry of Lapland Longspurs noshes on specially ground cracked corn. All birds should have it so good.

Last winter - the "polar vortex" freezeout - I wrote about a fantastical place in Delaware County, Ohio that hosted thousands, and thousands, of Snow Buntings. That post is RIGHT HERE. The birds' hosts are Mike and Becky Jordan, and they have the art of attracting birds of wide open spaces down to a science. Scatter some 50 lbs. of cracked corn (a day!!) along the driveway and other select spots, and sit back and watch the show. Their farmhouse is surrounded by big fields, and when the longspurs, buntings, and Horned Larks aren't out there somewhere, they're visiting the Jordans.

A handsome male Lapland Longspur alertly watches his surroundings. He is preparing to make his way to the yellow windrows of corn that trace the Jordans' long driveway.

I made my way to Mike and Becky's place last Sunday, after receiving reports of hundreds of longspurs. The …

Update: Tree & Shrub Workshop

In my last post, I announced the upcoming Tree & Shrub Workshop to be held Saturday, February 28 at the Caesar Creek Lake Visitor Center in Warren County. For details, either scroll down to the last post, or CLICK HERE.

Chief organizer Kathy McDonald told us today that we already have 73 people, including paid attendees and helpers/speakers. Wow, that didn't take long. We had originally planned on about 75 people, but can expand to comfortably accommodate at least a few dozen more. We want everyone to learn more about woody plants, have fun hanging around like-minded people, and enjoy some interesting field trips.

So, should this sound of interest, get your registration in soon. We'd love to have you. Just CLICK HERE for registration info.

Tree & Shrub Workshop: February 28

The expansive Army Corps of Engineers Visitor Center at Caesar Creek Lake in Warren County, Ohio. This building, and its location, is picture-perfect for hosting natural history events. And it is here where an interesting Tree & Shrub Workshop will take place on Saturday, February 28 from 9 am to 3:30 pm. The event is hosted by the Midwest Native Plant Society, the outfit that brings us the annual Midwest Native Plant Conference in Dayton. CLICK HERE for full details on the Tree & Shrub Workshop.

The Visitor's Center is conveniently located near Interstate 71, a couple of stone's throws north of Cincinnati and only about an hour's drive from Columbus. CLICK HERE for more info about the center and Caesar Creek. As an added bonus, great habitat abounds within minutes of the center. We'll of course have some field trips following the speaker portion of the event. Those who are so inclined can stay for the dusk American Woodcock extravaganza. There is a great cour…

Excellent new Native Fishes of Ohio book

January 4, 2015

Jim McCormac

Book about way more than bass
About half of the world’s more than 62,000 species of vertebrate animals are mostly hidden from view — the fishes, which live in a watery world largely off-limits to people.

The aquatic community is one of mystery; its secrets are only occasionally revealed to the casual observer.

Dan Rice and Gary Meszaros are hardly strangers to aquatic ecosystems. Both men have spent decades surveying Ohio’s fishes, in every corner of the state. They have paired to produce a beautiful new book, Native Fishes of Ohio (Kent State University, 113 pages, $24.95). Their project shines a light on Ohio’s stunning fish fauna in a way that no previous work has managed.

Rice spent much of his career as a zoologist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and dedicated much of his time to surveying Ohio’s fishes. Meszaros, a retired teacher, has been photographing natural history for almost four decades.

Their pairing was t…

Miscellaneous birds

This old farm in Adams County, Ohio was where I started my New Year's Day, bright and early. My primary intent was to submerge into the vast Shawnee State Forest, which is in neighboring Scioto County, and shoot (with camera) birds. But when word got out that a Loggerhead Shrike had been frequenting this farm, I had to start here.

Looking every bit El Bandido, the Loggerhead Shrike glares at the camera. If you are nearly any animal smaller than, or even up to the size of a shrike, you do not want to be affixed with this gaze. Our most predatory songbirds, shrikes capture, kill, and make mincemeat of other vertebrates.

The only person there when I arrived was the ubiquitous and widely traveled Carlton Schooley. He had seen the shrike from afar before I arrived. I hadn't been there but ten minutes or so when the cooperative bird flew right in, and landed on a wire close at hand. It was almost as if it wanted to be admired, and admire we did.

Loggerhead Shrikes were once fairly …