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Nature: Snipe's aerial courtship ritual worth seeing, hearing

Nature: Snipe's aerial courtship ritual worth seeing, hearing
Wilson's snipe is noted for its long bill and large eyes/Jim McCormac
Columbus Dispatch April 29, 2018
NATURE
Jim McCormac

For more than 170 years, people have been duped into “snipe hunting.” A rite of passage for campers and scouts, the mark is led into darkened woods and instructed to remain motionless while holding an open bag. The “snipe” will eventually enter the bag. Descriptions of the mythical snipe vary but usually involve fantastical creatures, such as a cross between a hare and a squirrel. These have nothing on the real thing. The Wilson’s snipe is a bona-fide bird that transcends the imagination of snipe-hunting pranksters. A type of sandpiper, the snipe is notable for its Pinocchio-like bill, an appendage that seems to stretch half the length of the body. Disproportionately huge eyes stare from a striped head, and the snipe’s body is elaborately decorated in ornate vermiculation and cross-hatching. The ove…

A week in Ohiopyle country

As always, click the photo to enlarge
Water rushes over Cole Run Falls near Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. This region is rich in beautiful water features, and many of the streams are traced by thick stands of great rhododendron, Rhododendron maximum.

I was in this area all of last week, co-instructing a photo workshop along with Debbie DiCarlo. It was our third expedition this year, and more are to follow. CLICK HERE for a complete listing and descriptions. Finally, our Facebook page features trip reports and images, and IS HERE.

We have a lot of fun on these trips, and hopefully everyone learns a lot - and returns with some great images. While there may be a theme - waterfalls and wildflowers on this one - we'll ignore nearly nothing, and try our hands at many types of imagery.

Just one day after I made the first image, last Monday, this is what Cole Run Falls looked like on Tuesday! A snowfall commenced early Tuesday morning and continued throughout much of the day. We didn't mind…

Ohio's Scenic River Act a leader in conservation

The Big Darby Creek in southwestern Franklin County/Jim McCormac
Columbus Dispatch April 15, 2018
NATURE
Jim McCormac

Next Sunday, April 22, marks the 48th annual Earth Day. The inaugural Earth Day’s hub was Central Park in New York, where a million Americans converged for a peaceful protest over worsening environmental degradation. Elsewhere, another 21 million people added their voices to the fledgling environmental-reform movement. Newly minted president Richard Nixon took notice. In December 1970, the Republican launched the Environmental Protection Agency. Its mission: clean up the ravages of decades of industrial pollution that had degraded the health of our air, land and water.

Ohio played a pivotal role in the groundswell of late 1960′s environmentalism. On June 22, 1969, the Cuyahoga River famously went aflame. This was at least the 13th time that oil and debris turned the river into a watery tinderbox.

People have an understandable aversion to seeing their streams ablaze, and t…

An epic aquatic foray

A dream team crew of aquatic biologists seines for fish in Little Darby Creek in southwestern Franklin County, Ohio. After two reschedulings due to high water, yesterday's foray was perfect in every way: temps in the 60's-70's, blue skies, and perfect water levels. While I was the prod to get this trip afoot, great thanks to Anthony Sasson of the Ohio Chapter of The Nature Conservancy for his organizational efforts and tapping the involvement of the likes of Brian Zimmerman, Andrew Boose and other authorities on aquatic fare. I will take credit for getting the incomparable Laura Hughes to join us :-)

With this crew, we were assured of all manner of underwater wonders being found, and that's exactly what happened. It was one of the best days of aquatic exploration I've ever been part of. Ten species of darters were found (we missed two that are known from this locale), plus many other fish species. Lots of non-fish aquatic organisms as well.

This spot in Little Dar…

Nature: Survey to tally dragon-, damselflies

The blue dasher is one of the most common dragonflies and can typically be found near slow-moving water sources [Jim McCormac]
Columbus Dispatch April 1, 2018
NATURE
Jim McCormac

NOTE: I'm just getting around to posting this article on the blog, and sorry for not doing so on the heels of its publication in the Columbus Dispatch. Two events that you may be interested in related to the subject at hand:

1) Dragonfly Workshop, April 26 at Grange Audubon Nature Center in Columbus. A primer for the upcoming 2018 survey season for the Ohio Dragonfly Survey. Several interesting talks are scheduled. I'll be giving one that focuses on dragon/damselfly photography. CLICK HERE for details and scroll down to this event.

2) Odo-Con-18! The annual statewide dragonfly conference, hosted by the Ohio Odonata Society and the Ohio Dragonfly Survey. It promises to be a doozy, with great talks and field trips. Findlay, Ohio, June 22-24, all details RIGHT HERE.

OK, read on for the Dispatch article...

Dra…

Two upcoming events: Museum Open House, and Wildflower Talk/Walk

Sorry for the late notice about these two events; too many travels and other stuff have kept me from prompt blog updates. Both of these events are free and open to the public, and YOU are welcome!

The ever-popular annual Open House at the Ohio State University's Museum of Biological Diversity takes place this Saturday, April 7, from 10 am - 4 pm. The museum is a fascinating treasure trove of all manner of animals and plants great and small. This year's theme is "Magnified". The museum is easy to access at 1315 Kinnear Road in Columbus, and complete details are RIGHT HERE.

I'm giving a photo-rich talk about spring wildflowers this Sunday, at one of the gems of the Hocking Hills, Camp Oty' Okwa. It'll include lots of interesting ecological notes, such as the critical role that ants play with many of our spring bloomers. Preceding the talk and starting at 4:30 pm, we'll take a ramble around the sprawling grounds and rich habitats of the camp. Talk commen…

Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels arise!

The thirteen-lined ground squirrels have arisen from their long winter slumber! These furry Rip Van Winkles enter their burrows for keeps in October(ish), and don't emerge until about now. I did see one at a south-central Ohio colony back on March 22 - my earliest ever spring date. This one was part of a Wayne County colony, and the only one I saw out yesterday.

These little beasts are a better spring alarm clock than is the fabled groundhog, and their appearance means that spring has truly arrived.