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Showing posts from March, 2018

Spectacular waterfall photo workshop!

Click to enlarge
It would be hard to find a showier environment than the Ohiopyle region of southwest Pennsylvania in April. Gorgeous streams and waterfalls abound, making for a photographer's paradise. Perks include a profusion of showy spring wildflowers of many species, gorgeous covered bridges, and even Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic Fallingwater house.

Famed landscape photographer Debbie DiCarlo and I are leading a foray here in mid-April, as outlined on the flyer above. We welcome all levels of skills, and can assure attendees of more outstanding photo ops than can a stick be shaken at! We will learn a ton, not only about photography, but also natural history.

For details and registration, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

Photo Exhibition and Talk: Brukner Nature Center, March 29

A stunning Baltimore oriole forages in a flowering chokecherry, singing as he snatches insects.
I embark on a second photo exhibition on Thursday, March 29, and this one is at the Brukner Nature Center near Troy, Ohio. I'm giving a talk there that evening, on the biodiversity of Ohio. You can be sure that the program will feature much in the way of fascinating flora and fauna, just as the photo exhibit will.

Information about Brukner Nature Center IS HERE, and the calendar has more specifics on the talk.

A trio of showy lady's-slipper flowers provides colorful punctuation to the somber hues of sedges in a fen meadow.
I've probably got more printed photos than Brukner's walls will hold, but the images in this post are just a few of the ones that will be hung. And I should note, all will be for sale. There will be images from at least six or seven states, and Canada.

Following are a few more examples of photographs that will be featured. If you can make it over on March 2…

Nature: Insects stride the boundary of water and air

Common water striders during mating
Columbus Dispatch March 18, 2018
NATURE Jim McCormac
Water striders
Dancing on water,
With swirls of blissful motion;
Aquatic ballet
— Raul Moreno
Moreno’s beautiful haiku captures the allure of these graceful insects. Water striders are the epitome of aquatic insect art.
One needn’t venture far to find water striders. They are found throughout Ohio and are common on sluggish water in streams, ponds and lakes. I saw a mating pair during a recent trip to southern Ohio. In spite of temperatures in the 30s, numerous striders skated about the backwaters of a stream that we were investigating.
Sometimes known as “Jesus bugs” for their seemingly supernatural ability to walk across water, striders actually employ high-tech aquatic hardware to master watery haunts. As do all insects, water striders have six legs, but the rear two sets are greatly elongated. They serve as powerful oars and outriggers, quickly jetting the bug about and providing stability.

Finding screech-owls

A jumbo tiger salamander, Ambystoma tigrinum, peeks over a log. I photographed the amphibious brute back on February 15 on a nighttime prowl through the backcountry of Champaign and Logan counties. That evening was relatively warm and rainy, and although a bit early in the salamander migration season, some animals were moving. We've had nearly no good conditions in this part of the state since - too dry, too cold, etc.

A route that I like to patrol when looking for migrant salamanders goes through an oft-flooded area dominated by porous limestone karst topography. When rains bring the water table up, the h2o comes bubbling from the ground, saturating soils and flooding large areas. The Google Earth map above depicts one of my favorite salamander haunts. Nearly uninhabited by people - because their homesteads would routinely be flooded - and dominated by a nice mosaic of habitats.

Habitats that are not only desired by tiger salamanders and others in the amphibious crowd, but also ow…


Yesterday, I made my first trip of spring to the wonderland that is Adams County, Ohio. Spring arrives much earlier down there than it does even 100 miles to the north, in Columbus where I live. I was looking forward to the opportunity to get a much-needed botanical fix, following a long largely chlorophyll-free winter.
There was another purpose to the trip. The Mothapalooza planning committee was convening to sketch out Mothapalooza 2019. Which we did and it should, this 6th Mothapalooza, be another fantastic affair. But as we weren't meeting until 3 pm, there was plenty of time beforehand to commune with Nature. I got down there not long after sunrise, then later that morning joined up with Mary Ann Barnett, Kim Banks, Judy Ganance, and Colleen Sharkey, fellow committee members all.
Following is a brief selection of some of yesterday's finds.
The headwaters of Scioto Brush Creek slice through interesting limestone cliffs in Adams County, at the Arc of Appalachia's Chale…

The Wilds Science Symposium

The Wilds, a place that I've covered numerous times on this blog, is hosting a science symposium on Saturday, March 24, at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio. Can't beat the price - it's free! Experts will be speaking about pollinators, prairies, salamanders, grassland birds, and more. Should be a great time, and a very educational experience. The conference site is very near The Wilds, and attendees might consider staying over and birding the area the following day. CLICK HERE for information about birding this area.

For complete information and registration, CLICK HERE.

The "oldsquaws" of Lake Ontario

I made two northern forays this winter to Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. This vast holding is a treasure trove of cold weather goodies, and I was there to see beasts like the American marten, along with boreal birds that included both crossbills, gray jay, spruce grouse, and more. All in a striking wintry landscape. On the second trip, Debbie DiCarlo and I were scouting locations and details for potential future photo tours. We know it would make for a fantastic location, and could guarantee lots of fascinating photo subjects, but would anyone wish to deal with the cold? It was minus 24 F one morning, but normally temperatures are not that crisp, although Florida this place is not. Nonetheless, it's easy to dress for cold success and well worth the effort. For our current photo tours, CLICK HERE.
On both of these excursions, we made time to spend part of a day along the western side of Lake Ontario, which is enroute. There are numerous excellent lake access points …

Ohio taxpayers can opt to support state nature preserves

Irwin Prairie near Toledo, one of Ohio's rarest habitats
Columbus Dispatch March 4, 2018
Jim McCormac

From a natural-history perspective, Ohio is a crossroads state. Major ecosystems collide here, creating a cornucopia of biodiversity unlike any other Midwestern political region. The fourth-largest Great Lake, Erie, forms Ohio’s northern border. This grand inland sea brings a wealth of flora and fauna, some of it unique to the state.

Boreal habitats normally found far to the north provide a glimpse into our recent glacial history. The ecological footprints of a frigid history can be found in relict bogs, fens and hemlock ravines.

The majesty of the Appalachian Mountains sweeps into Ohio from the east, impressing with rugged forested terrain. Spectacular rock formations and deep gorges harbor a beauty that contradicts outsiders’ superficial impression of this “rust belt” area.

Four hundred and fifty one miles of the Ohio River, one of America’s mightiest streams, delineates
our south…

Early spring wildflower photo workshop: March 23 - 25

Click the pic to enlarge, as always
While March is roaring in like a lion here in central Ohio, Old Man Winter is in his death throes and spring is charging north at breakneck speed. The very earliest spring wildflowers have already started in southernmost Ohio, but it's a botanical trickle compared to what the flowers will be like down there in a few weeks.

Debbie DiCarlo and I are doing another photo workshop from March 23-25, this one focusing on wildflowers. During the course of our foray, I expect we'll see many other interesting things - maybe even one of those red bats from my last blog post. We're sure to have fun, and learn a lot. If you are interested, please CLICK HERE for all of the information and registration info. We'd love to have you along!