Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Flora-Quest + Rails!!

Fringed Gentian, Gentianopsis virgata, a plant so striking it inspired William Cullen Bryant to commemorate it in poetry.

If I've added properly, this year marks the 10th anniversary of Flora-Quest, an Ohio-centric botanical event. F-Q is always loads of fun, and a great learning experience. Plants are pretty much the building blocks of most of our animal life forms, so what better group of organisms to study. Besides, many plants such as the gentian are knock-your-socks-off stunning.

This year's F-Q takes place on Friday, September 30 (what an excuse for a three day weekend!) and ventures to the shores of Lake Erie and the idyllic village of Lakeside. CLICK HERE for all the details. Within a stone's throw from base camp are LOTS of interesting habitats full of fascinating flora. The gentians are only 20 minutes off, in one of Ohio's finest prairie remnants. Field trips will explore marshes, beaches, prairies, alvar, and woodland, and in the process we'll cast eyes on many species of plants, learn about what makes them tick, and how they fit into the ecology of their habitats.

Wetland ecologist Mark Dilley will give one of his always entertaining talks, this one entitled Wetland Plants: Twenty to Thrill, Five to Kill. The title alone ought to entice you to attend.

I'm on the slate, too, offering up a program called: Lake Erie: Ohio's North Coast. It'll be a big picture look at how our Great Lake functions, its global importance and critical habitats, with special emphasis on plant life.

Nodding Ladies'-tresses, Spiranthes cernua.

After the morning programs and after the sun has warmed the earth's crust a bit, we're heading outdoors to SEE MANY THINGS. A premier cast of guides has been recruited to escort attendees to interesting habitats and their floral denizens. In addition to the orchid depicted above, we may also see the rarer Great Plains Ladies'-tresses, Spiranthes magnicamporum. And many, many other botanical delights. Plus birds, dragonflies, moths, butterflies, katydids, reptiles, etc. etc.

A Virginia Rail briefly shows itself. These marsh chickens are normally shy skulkers.

There is easy opportunity for a major double-whammy! After Friday's Flora-Quest diurnal activities, Jason Lewis will present a program on Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. There's no one better to do this, as Jason is the refuge manager. His openness and innovations at Ottawa have become widely known and appreciated, especially his making the refuge much more accessible to the public.

The following day, October 1, the Ohio Ornithological Society holds an event known as Rally for the Rails. It is also based at Lakeside, and I'd advise just staying over and making a double-header botany and birds weekend of it. There will be interesting speakers, field trips, and an evening banquet featuring Auriel Fournier talking about her research into the lives of secretive rails. You can see all the details about Rally for Rails RIGHT HERE. Lodging at Lakeside is very nice and very inexpensive. CLICK HERE for more details.

I''ll hope to see you there on what should be a glorious fall weekend along Lake Erie!

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