Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Winter Tree Quiz

Wintertime is a great time to exercise the old noggin with a quiz. It is also a great time to learn your trees based on the bark. Soooo, I decided to combine the two into a handy-dandy tree quiz. See how you do. These trees are all native to Indiana.

Tree #1

Tree #2

Tree #3

Bonus Question 1: Name what critter made the holes. (This will probably give away the tree.)

Bonus Question 2: Name the vine climbing the tree. You can tell if you look closely.

Tree #4

Tree #5

Tree #6

Tree #7

I will post the answers Jan 3rd. Good Luck!

If you like trees, check out the Festival of the Trees blog carnival hosted at xenogere. It will be up on Jan 1st.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

What in Tarnation Photo Quiz Answers

Photo 1-I think everyone who guessed got this one right (I had a few from e-mail, as well.) This is a dragonfly wing, and the amber wings with reddish-brown spots points to Halloween Pennant, Celithemis eponina. This crop was taken from where the wings intersect.

Photo 2-This is one of the individual blossoms of the Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. This is a crop of the center blossom.

. Photo 3-This is the wing or elytra of a Eyed-Click Beetle, Alaus oculatus. I thought the speckled pattern and the ridges made for an interesting photo.

Photo 4-Sorry, Kathy, this is not my tongue, LOL. This is a Rosy Maple Moth, Dryocampa rubicunda. This crop was taken near the second leg on the right side of the moth. Photo by John Howard.

Photo 5-Yellow Warbler was on the right track and I can totally see the honeybee guess. It is a Prairie Warbler's, Dendroica discolor, flank. Photo by John Howard.

Photo 6-Shooting Star or Pride of Ohio, Dodecatheon meadia. This one and many others grow in a patch along the White River behind my friend's apartment complexes. Such a striking flower!

Photo7-And finally, many of you guessed eggs. These are actually Eastern Bluebird eggs. We have quite a few nestboxes on the property here at Southeastway Park, and this was one of the successful broods.

With all the correct or close to correct guesses, I will have to work harder on a future quiz! Thanks to all that participated.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What in Tarnation is That?

I thought it would be fun to play a game. I have cropped a few of my photos, and will let you all take a stab at what they are. Everything is nature related and can be found outside here in the Midwest, so no kangaroos, octopus, etc... I will post the answers and show the original photos in a couple days. Good luck!

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

Photo 5

Photo 6

Photo 7

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gallagher Fen Revisited

Wow, it has been a while since I have posted. I have no idea where October went! Today I was looking through some old files and remembered I meant to post these a looooonnnnggg time ago.

The following photos were from a trip in the beginning of September. I revisited Gallagher Fen with my friend Jim Davidson. What an awesome day! This was the first time I had seen many of these plants in bloom. I had seen their vegetation in the past, but now I was seeing them in all their glory. I think you will agree!

Such a beautiful pair. Purple Gerardia, Gerardia purpurea and Kalm's Lobelia, Lobelia kalmii. The Purple Gerardia was everywhere, dotting the fen with lovely splashes of pink. The blossoms almost dwarfed the tiny Kalm's Lobelia.

Great Blue Lobelia, Lobelia siphilitica, a cousin to Kalm's Lobelia has a large blue spike of flowers. One of my favorites, I was glad to see it in almost full bloom.

Canada Burnet, Sanguisorba canadensis, looks like a highly ornate candle one would buy in a specialty shop. Normally, the blooms start at the bottom and gradually open and close as they progress along the spike. This unique plant was opened up almost along its entire length. It was located in a tricky spot, so I had to straddle a deep puddle in order to take the shot and not fall in the muck. Jim D. was helping by taunting me the entire time. :)

Grass of Parnassus, Parnassia glauca, was in bloom, as well. I had only viewed it leaves in the past. Such a delicate beauty. I love the nectar guides, the faint gray lines on the petals that point the pollinators to the goods.

Gallagher Fen can be visited by permit only. You must contact the Ohio Division of Nature Preserves to ask for a permit. Such a beautiful place, I hope they continue to protect it in the years to come.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Asters and Goldenrods

A walk around our wetland was absolutely gorgeous. The purple and yellow blooms of New England Aster and Riddell's Goldenrod were breath-taking. I could have stayed out there all day. The blossoms were covered with tons of insects. Butterflies galore, orange Soldier Beetles, wasps, bees, moths, etc... I will cover some of my finds in another post.

This New England Aster was phenomenal. It was almost as tall as me, with the lovely purple blossoms cascading down the stem.

It really pleases me that out wetland was installed in 2000, and it is such a haven for wildlife. The plantings have really taken off, with this year being a real showstopper for the fall flowers. Native plants can really improve an area. It shows that if you build it, they will come!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Midwest Birding Symposium-Killdeer Korner

THE Ohio Young Birders Club presents: KILLDEER KORNER
Activities for Young Birders of all ages!

Saturday September 19, 2009 is Young Birder’s Day at the Midwest Birding Symposium! Join us from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Wo-Ho-Mis (across the street from South Auditorium). Admission is free, but donations will be accepted. Our friends from the Ohio Young Birders Club and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory will offer the following activities:

Preschoolers can make their own pair of binoculars and learn how to use them. They can also build a bird feeder out of a variety of common recycled items, and make an owl puppet or mask.

For older young birders, they can get their creative juices going by participating in the Midwest Birding Symposium Junior Duck Stamp Contest. Participants will paint a portrait of their favorite duck, goose, or swan! Lily Sprang, winner of this year’s National Junior Duck Stamp Contest, will be leading the activity along with her brother Eli, an Ohio Junior Duck Stamp winner and national runner-up!

All the budding artists will receive materials introducing them (and their parents and teachers) to the Junior Duck Stamp Contest. When the portraits are finished, artists can choose to take their art home with them or enter it into the contest. Prizes will be awarded for the top three contest entries.

For the teenagers, The Ohio Young Birders Club will lead a bird walk from 8:00 – 9:45 a.m. Saturday on the Lakeside grounds. They will meet at the front entrance to the Hotel Lakeside.

For more details, contact BSBO at 419-898-4070.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fringed Gentian

Jim Davidson and I visited a few fens near Springville, OH on Labor Day weekend. One we had to work to find, but was rewarded with a gorgeous stand of Fringed Gentian, Gentianopsis procera.
We got a tip they were just starting to bloom. Jim found the first one and called me over.

Finally, we stumbled upon this beauty. It was fully open and a brilliant Pepsi-can blue. A blue you rarely see in nature. Here is a side view.

And here is a top view. You can see the fringes on the petals, where it gets its name. A flower that was well worth the two hours of searching for the fen.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Increasing Diversity in Outdoor Recreation

I teach environmental education to thousands of school age children here in Indianapolis. Our public schools are full of diversity with children from a large variety of races and creeds. They visit our park for educational field trips with the school. The children will step off the bus with their eyes full of wonder. Familiar with only their urban backyards, many have never stepped foot in a woods before their initial park visit.

They are fascinated to see a Cardinal up close at our bird feeding area. A bird, that sadly I even tend to dismiss at times because it is so common, becomes a miraculous thing, bright red and loud. They excitedly run up, pointing towards it, eager to share their find. "A cardinal, a cardinal" they exclaim.

Our field trips almost always involve a hike. We discuss what does and does not belong in an Indiana forest. Many have grown up with Animal Planet, so I always get "monkeys" as one of the answers. I tell them we do not have monkeys here in Indiana, but they can listen for a bird that sounds like a monkey. We have a pretty reliable Pileated Woodpecker that will sound off. You should see their eyes light up when it does! And sometimes we are even treated to a close view. What a crazy looking bird and it lives here in Indianapolis? That fact really opens their eyes.
We talk about bugs and plants and we may get lucky and spot a slumbering raccoon. But no matter what, we can always hear the birds. And because I am a birder, I rely on them heavily with my programs. They laugh when I do my imitation of the silly Eastern Wood Pewee song. They love hearing the Acadian Flycatcher or "pizza bird", as I call it. I tell them it likes to talk about pizza and they giggle when I tease them about grasshoppers and other yummy bugs as toppings. Many say "This is the best field trip ever!" Most children, no matter what nationality or race, seem delighted and engaged in the great outdoors.

But what happens when they become adults? Why do we lose their interest? They are showing fascination with the natural world as children, but when they become adults, we lose them. This isn't just speculation. Go to most birding event in the United States and look at the crowd. It is almost always predominently white. If we want to protect our natural world, we need to start finding ways to include everyone.

So what can we do to draw in a more diversified crowd? We should work together to find a way to engage other groups. The Black Swamp Bird Observatory has a wonderful workshop coming up Saturday, September 26th, Diversity in the Outdoor Recreation: The Many Faces of Conservation.

Here is the line-up:
The extremely talented Dudley Edmonson will be there with his breath-taking photography. His stunning images have been included in publications from around the world. Even if you cannot make the conference, you should check out his site. Gorgeous photos! He will be presenting "Outdoor Role Models: Black and Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places”.

John C Robinson has worked as a professional ornithologist for over 30 years. He has wrote numerous books and the entire text and computer code for the North American Bird Reference Book CD-ROM. How many authors can claim that! He will be presenting "Birding for Everyone: Changing the Face of Environmental Conservation Through Birding”.

Tamberly Conway and Maricruz Flores will be presenting “Latino Legacy: Improving Connections with Latino Audiences in Recreation, Outreach and Conservation Education Programming”. Ms. Conway is currently working on her PhD in Forestry at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas and her dissertation focuses on outreach and conservation education programming appropriate for Latino communities. Maricruz Flores is a mentor and team leader for the program “Amigos del Bosque” (Friends of the Forest). She is employed as Partnership Development and Community Outreach Assistant Coordinator for the Latino Legacy community outreach program.

Many of you might be in the Toledo, Ohio area for bird migration at Magee Marsh and the surrounding area. Please consider attending this important conference. More information can be found here.

Cardinal and Pileated Woodpecker photos by John Howard. Eastern Wood Pewee butt by me. :)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

One of the Weirdest Moths I Have Ever Seen

A few days ago, my friend John Howard, one of the best all around naturalists I know, sent me a picture of the coolest moth. At the time, we weren't even certain it was a moth. It looked just like a giant treehopper! It did have scaly wings like a moth, but its appearance was so strange. It looked like it could have easily walked out of a Lord of the Rings movie! Plus, treehoppers are usually a lot smaller; most are less than a centimeter in length.

The critter looked just like a dead leaf with its antennae curled back to look like a petiole, the stem part on a leaf that attaches to the tree. Its legs were also jagged and thickened in places to resemble a dried up leaf. Perfect camouflage! Below is a crop of John's picture that shows the legs up close.

I was really curious about this critter conundrum. What was this bizarre bug? I looked in some of my books. No luck! Then I looked through some pics on my favorite website BugGuide. Nope, I couldn't find it. There are so many moths out there, it can make one's head spin.

So finally I e-mailed Eric Eaton, otherwise known as Bug Eric. He is called Bug Eric because he is extremely knowledgeable about bugs and is the principal author for the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects. Wonderful book! I tend to "bug" Eric with all the unknown insects I find. And in return, he kindly obliges an answer and gently corrects my ID boo-boos.

Eric quickly came up with the ID. It was on BugGuide all along, I just couldn't find it. This crazy-looking moth is actually a Trumpet Vine or Trumpet Creeper moth, Clydonopteron sacculana. Its name comes from its host plant, which is a showy vine with large showy red flowers. Trumpet Creeper is also a hummingbird magnet. The caterpillars of the moth feed on the pods of Trumpet Creeper and pupate inside the seedpods.

Here is a picture I took of Trumpet Creeper, Campsis radicans, at Garfield Park this summer. I love the scarlet flowers! They are so inviting, especially to a hungry hummingbird.

When I told John Howard I was doing this post, he sent me a picture he had taken of Trumpet Creeper. How gorgeous! If you have this plant nearby, take a peek and see if you can find the caterpillars of this crazy moth!

That is what is great about the amazing world of insects! You never know what you will discover next!
For more amazing critters, visit the Camera Critters site.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I love nature's adaptations and camouflage is one of my favorites. Check closely and see if you can find the Blanchard's Cricket Frog, Acris crepitans blanchardi, in this picture.

It's there and I would never have seen it if it hadn't hopped. It blends in perfectly with the mud around the edge of our pond.
How about now that it has turned sideways?

Here you can see it now that I have cropped the photo. Check to the right of the brown leaf in the previous photos. Looks just like a clump of mud. Camouflage at its finest!
For more Camera Critters go here. To visit more Friday Ark critters visit here.