Sunday, August 9, 2015

A brief ramble through the bog

I beached myself in Dayton, Ohio last night, arriving in the hometown of Orville and Wilbur Wright late in the evening following a trip to Indianapolis. Rather than punch through to Columbus, I figured I'd arise early and spend a few hours exploring one of my favorite places the next morning before returning home. Cedar Bog is located at 980 Woodburn Road, a few miles south of Urbana and an easy 45 minute drive from Columbus.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, needs to visit Cedar Bog. It is probably Ohio's most fabled natural area, and as we shall see, interesting life forms abound. It isn't really a bog - it's a fen! - but let's not belabor ourselves with details. I've written about this place numerous times. If you scroll down the alphabetized list of subject matter on the right side of this page, and click on Cedar Bog, you'll see those past posts.

The entire scoop on Cedar Bog can be had RIGHT HERE. If you visit, or have visited, or are thinking about visiting, or like nature, BECOME A MEMBER.

While driving down the entrance drive to Cedar Bog, I heard birds galore, even this late in the season. I noticed a pair of busybody House Wrens had occupied a martin house and were working on cranking out a second brood. Nearby Black Cherry trees dripped with ripe fruit, and Gray Catbirds and Cedar Waxwings were sneaking about plundering the trees' larder. A Yellow-billed Cuckoo yelped mournfully in the distance, Eastern Kingbirds teed up on snags, and further down the boardwalk an Eastern Screech-Owl whistled away, forgetting its nocturnal habits momentarily.

As I worked at photographing the wrens, I noticed this battle-weary Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Given the frayed and tattered condition of her wings, it's amazing she can still fly. Nonetheless, the butterfly hopped energetically about the flowers of Prairie-dock, Silphium terebinthinaceum, avidly seeking nectar.

Although I don't directly feature any in this post, Cedar Bog is incredibly rich in plant diversity. In fact, one could argue that it hosts the richest plant diversity of any comparably sized site in Ohio. There are scores of rare species, and when one gazes over one of the fen meadows, most of the plants in view are rare in the state.

Butterfly numbers and diversity were exceptional on this rather hot and muggy day. I enjoyed watching this male Zabulon Skipper as it used the flowers of a Spiked Blazing-star, Liatris spicata, as a perch. Any other butterfly that dared fly too close was aggressively chased - the "Zab" was probably hoping one of them would prove to be a female of his kind.

Common Wood-Nymphs, Cercyonis pegala, were everywhere. These largish butterflies often stay low in the grasses and sedges, thus I was pleased when one chose to rest briefly on the colorful flowers of a blazing-star.

The vining Virgin's-bower, Clematis virginiana, was in full bloom and I always give more than passing attention to the flowers. It paid off as I was rewarded with this tiny day-flying moth. It is a Spotted Thyris, Thyris maculata, and in this case the nut does not fall far from the tree. A major - if not THE major - host for this species is plants on the genus Clematis. The moths are easily missed as they bear an astonishing resemblance to bits of dead plant debris.

Never to be ignored are Cedar Bog's two rarest Odonates. This one is a male Seepage Dancer damselfly, Argia bipunctulata, and they are having a great year. I saw scores throughout the open fen meadows. Common as it may be at Cedar Bog, there are few populations in Ohio and Seepage Dancer is listed as endangered.

The other endangered dragonfly is the Elfin Skimmer, Nannothemis bella. I find them much scarcer than the previous species, and generally much harder to find and photograph. This is the male, resplendent in a coat of powder-blue. The female looks entirely different - black and yellowish striped, and quite wasplike in appearance. These truly elfin dragonflies are so small that the uninitiated, if they noticed them at all, would almost certainly not recognize the skimmers as dragonflies.

I was pleased to see a number of Phantom Craneflies (genus Bittacomorpha) flying about in the shady gloom of the swamp forest areas. Their wafting, buoyant flight is aided by tibial flanges that give them more lift. Seeing one in flight is a mind-bending experience. It resembles a flying kaleidoscope, but its blanco-negro patterning is excellent disruptive coloration and the insect quickly "disappears" when it enters the shadows. I would have liked to work them harder for photos, but the mosquitos drove me out. Take bug spray when exploring Cedar Bog. Although, the open fen meadows were not mosquito-plagued at all - only the shady wet woods.

After my two hours were up and I was packing away gear in the car, I took a glance at a patch of prairie plants near the parking lot. There sat a gorgeous Gray Treefrog, Hyla versicolor. I find these small treefrogs irresistible subjects, so out came the camera again. This has been a boom year for treefrogs, perhaps because of all the rain.

So, all that and much more in a brief few hour ramble down Cedar Bog's boardwalk. The place never fails to provide interesting subjects.

1 comment:

Sue said...

What a great "tour" !
Love the photos-such a nice variety.