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Showing posts from June, 2017

A mishmash of flora and fauna from recent days

I've been away far more than home of late, much of it up in Ashtabula County - the largest and most northeastern of Ohio's 88 counties. From my home in Columbus, the center of the state, it takes nearly three hours to get there. It's like another world, and harbors perhaps the greatest concentration of wetlands in the state.

Thus, Ashtabula County was a great place to hold the Ohio Odonata Society's annual meeting, which is why I was there. The hub of the get-together was in Morgan Swamp, at the Ohio Chapter of The Nature Conservancy's Grand River Conservation Campus. There, we heard a number of great talks, and on Saturday radiated out to surrounding areas for field trips. The one that I was on visited Holden Arboretum in adjacent Lake County. Following are some photos from that excursion, and other forays in the area.

An Upland Sandpiper, Bartramia longicauda, forages in a light rain. It was one of two adults, who were tending two fully-grown offspring. The adult…

Nature: Bunnies prolific breeders but have many predators

A young eastern cottontail grooms itself along a Hocking County lane. Many cottontails fall victim to predators before they reach adulthood. Jim McCormac/For The Dispatch
Columbus Dispatch June 18, 2017
NATURE
Jim McCormac

Hallo,Rabbit,” he said, “is that you?” “Let’s pretend it isn’t,” said Rabbit, “and see what happens.” ― A. A. Milne (from “Winnie-the-Pooh”) I’ve been writing natural-history columns for The Dispatch for 12 years and have penned more than 250 articles. In all that time, I haven’t written a word about one of our most familiar mammals, the eastern cottontail. My apologies to the rabbits. There’s certainly enough of the fuzz-tailed hoppers to warrant some comment. Cottontails are prolific breeders, with females able to produce five or more litters of up to eight kits in a single season. Some of those kits will produce litters in their first year. It doesn’t take a mathematician to realize that we could quickly be swarming with rabbits. But we’re not awash in rabbits, thank…

Orchid poster available!

Botanist and orchidophile Andrew Gibson has assembled a stunning collage of all of Ohio's native orchids in poster form, aptly titled Native Orchids of Ohio. Click the photo above to see a larger version. It took him years to track down and photograph all 47 native species - and there is also one interesting hybrid included. The photos speak for themselves - they're stunning. The poster, which measures 24" x 36", could be framed and used as wall art. As many people may not even know that orchids occur in Ohio, the poster is sure to be a conversation piece with house guests. It would also be an informative addition to the walls of schools and other institutions of learning.

CLICK HERE for information about ordering the Native Orchids of Ohio poster.

A few odds and ends from recent days

I've been away more than home of late, and often busy with necessary work when I am home, so here's a quick and easy post. A hodgepodge of various flora and fauna from recent travels around Ohio, in no particular order.

One of our most striking warblers, a male Common Yellowthroat tees up on a favorite singing perch. Cedar Bog, Champaign County.

A flowerfly in the family Syrphidae grasps the style of a meadow parsnip flower, Pastinaca sativa, and laps pollen from the stigma. Many species in this family, like this one, are excellent bee mimics. Castalia Prairie, Erie County.

Rearing up and displaying its osmeteria is a Black Swallowtail caterpillar. The orange horns emit a foul-smelling chemical and are used to ward off would-be predators. The cat was eating the foliage of poison-hemlock, Conium maculatum, a very toxic plant. Woodman Fen, Montgomery County.

Tiny but beautiful is this Orange Wing Moth, Mellilla xanthometata. It was one of many moths that were lured by light shee…

Young rabbits galore

Tis the season for young Eastern Cottontails. June brings young bunnies, and these youngsters, who haven't yet developed street smarts, often forage out in the open. Thus, they are easy pickings for all manner of predators, not the least of which is the Bobcat. Both of my Ohio Bobcat sightings come from June, and both cats were patrolling country lanes. I suspect they were searching for young rabbits, like the one in these photos.

I made these two images this morning in Hocking County, while photographing birds. The little rabbit - and there was another close by - was oblivious to my presence. In the photo above, he nonchalantly feeds on the leaves of American plantain, Plantago rugelii, right out in the open along a rural lane. Any Red-tailed Hawk - and there are many around there - that happens along will take a keen interest in this rabbit.

Eastern Cottontails are incredibly prolific breeders. A sexually mature female can have five or so litters a year, each of up to eight kit…

Showy Lady's-slippers at Cedar Bog

A trio of dazzling Showy Lady's-slipper flowers, as seen from the boardwalk at Cedar Bog in Champaign County, Ohio, this morning.

Fortunately, I made it back from the northern reaches of Michigan in time to get over to Cedar Bog and see Cypripedium reginae, arguably the most spectacular of North American orchids. It is at peak bloom right now, and will look good for another week or so.

Not much notice, I know, but the Friends of Cedar Bog will conduct guided tours to see and learn about these orchids tomorrow and Sunday (June 3 & 4). More information can be found RIGHT HERE.

I highly recommend a visit. Traversing the "bog" (really a fen) is easy, thanks to a mile long boardwalk. While the orchids are currently the star of the show, biodiversity abounds in this magical place, and you'll see much more.