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Showing posts from May, 2018

Nature: Night hunt reveals green salamander's hiding spot

A green salamander hunts along the face of a cliff in West Virginia/Jim McCormac
Columbus Dispatch May 20, 2018
NATURE
Jim McCormac

Twenty-four species of salamanders occur in Ohio, but they mostly remain well-hidden. Most of these low-slung amphibians prefer to haunt wet, mucky soil under logs, rocks and other such niches. Even though many species can be surprisingly common, it takes an expert to find them.

One of the rarest and most furtive Ohio species is the green salamander (Aneides aeneus). Listed as endangered in Ohio, this salamander is known from a handful of rocky outcrops along the Ohio River. The best populations are found within the sprawling Edge of Appalachia Preserve in Adams County, owned by the Ohio Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.
Green salamanders hole up in tiny fissures of cliff faces during the day. By using a flashlight, seekers can sometimes locate them in their rocky lairs. Daytime looks are rather dissatisfying — little more than a bit of eye shine and a sinu…

Cape May Warblers, and the Friends of Magee Marsh

A fabled place, especially at this time of year. Tens of thousands of birders make the peregrination to western Lake Erie, especially Ohio's Lucas and Ottawa counties, and stop #1 is a mile-long boardwalk that bisects a lakefront patch of swamp woods.

Owned and managed by the Ohio Division of Wildlife, the Magee Marsh Bird Trail can be akin to birding in an open-air zoo aviary. Scores of warblers and other songbirds fill the woods, and can often be seen at arm's length. Fixated on feeding to fuel the long flights ahead, and replenish fat deposits lost in the long migration to reach this point, the birds are little concerned with the throngs of human admirers.

I was up there over the weekend, and the birds put on a heckuva show. At least 29 warblers species were seen, most in large numbers. The rarity highlight among that crowd was a vagrant black-throated gray warbler - one of relatively few Ohio records.

Many visitors commented on the sparkly new look to the boardwalk. We ca…

New River Birding & Nature Festival

A long exposure brings out star trails, with the mighty New River Gorge bridge as frontispiece. I made this image at midnight from deep within the gorge.

I spent all last week near Fayetteville, in southern West Virginia, participating in the New River Birding & Nature Festival. This, I think, was my 14th year of leading trips and giving talks at this event, which celebrated its 16th year with this go-round. It is one of my favorite events, because of the people, the excellent organization of the event, and of course the outstanding biodiversity.

Thanks to Rachel Davis, Geoff Heeter, Keith Richardson, Paul Shaw and everyone else involved in planning and executing the NRBNF. Next year's dates are April 29 through May 4. You can come for part of it, or the whole thing. We'd love to have you. Festival details are RIGHT HERE.

Swollen by spring showers, the waters of Glade Creek rush through a rich Appalachian cove forest. Landscapes are stunning in the New River region.

I tak…

Nature: Once-shunned peninsula grew into urban oasis

A Cooper's hawk chases a red-tailed hawk above Scioto Audubon Metro Park/Jim McCormac
Columbus Dispatch May 6, 2018
NATURE Jim McCormac
Just southwest of Downtown Columbus, shadowed by skyscrapers, is an urban oasis. The 120-acre Scioto Audubon Metro Park is a rich green peninsula wedged between the Brewery District and the Scioto River. The nine-year-old park rose from rows of impounded cars and industrial detritus. Many an illegally parked motorist made journeys to the end of Whittier Street to retrieve vehicles that had been towed. Metro Parks, Audubon Ohio and the city of Columbus united to transform the Whittier Street Peninsula into a landscape diametrically opposed to what it once was. Although the peninsula was a place few folks wished to visit only a decade ago, it is now a site that tens of thousands of people flock to each year. A popular attraction is the Metro Parks’ climbing wall, where wanna-be Edmund Hillarys scale the artificial heights. Walkers, runners and others a…