Photo was taken by Mark Zloba.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
A little history (from Ohio Audubon Society's website):
The first Christmas Bird Count had 27 volunteer participants who counted birds in 25 distinct count circles across 13 different states and two Canadian provinces. They collectively counted 18,500 individual birds and 90 total species. Today there are nearly 50,000 volunteer CBC observers throughout the world, including groups that participate right here in Adams County.
To get involved in a Christmas Bird Count near you, click here.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
- Field guides - Fantastic for anyone with an interest in nature, field guides are now available for birds, wildflowers, trees, reptiles, amphibians, fish, butterflies, mammals, and many, many other topics. When buying a field guide, the most important considerations are 1) the level of expertise of the user and 2) the geographical range of the guide (a guide to the birds of the southwestern United States will not be much help here in Adams County).
- Water bottle - Consider a metal water bottle instead of plastic, (plastic bottles can leach a substance called bisphenol-A (BPA), which is suspected of messing with our hormones.
- Pocket knife - Out on the trail, far from your house or car, a little knife can come in mighty handy sometimes.
- Binoculars - Consider a pair that is water-resistant and durable, like Nikon's Monarch ATB model, which sell for around $270.00.
- First aid kit - Don't bother with a "space blanket", waterproof matches, or band aides. Soak some cotton balls with Vaseline, store them in a film canister, buy a "metal match" and put it in the kit. Use the metal match to ignite the cotton balls, which will burn several minutes while you add tinder for a fire. For shelter, throw in some neon orange contractor-grade trash bags (just crawl inside to stay dry and trap body heat if you're stuck outdoors overnight - the orange color helps others find you more easily, too). Include a whistle and you're set.
- Travel pack - Toting field guides, a water bottle, pocket knife, binoculars, and a first aid kit is made much easier with a comfortable pack that fits snugly around your waist or on your back.
Enjoy the outdoors in 2010!
Friday, December 11, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
The U.S. Corps of Engineers is considering granting permission to a private company, Nugent Sand of Louisville, KY, to dredge sand from the Ohio River near Portsmouth, Ohio. "So what?" you ask. The problem with this is three-fold: first, taking away sand from the river will almost certainly result in erosion on the bank, threatening the property of folks living close to the waters' edge. Second, filtering sand from the river bed will stir up thousands of tons of muck, which will be allowed to wash downstream, wrecking havoc on ecosystems below the dredge site. And third, pulling up sediment will disturb existing benthic (bottom-dwelling) creatures, especially freshwater mussels. Mussels have had a rough time of it since European settlement in the Ohio River Valley. They have been exploited for their shells (used to make buttons before plastics were supplemented around WWII), suffocated in silt, and displaced by rising water levels when the Ohio was dammed.
To have your say in the outcome of the decision whether or not to allow dredging for profit near Portsmouth, you can attend a public meeting at the West Portsmouth High School at 6pm on Thursday, December 10.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
This last weekend was Flora-Quest, an annual event for folks from all over the state and in spite of threat of rain we ventured forth and all had a great time. The flowers were in great numbers and quite beautiful. One of the show stoppers was the Little White Ladies Slipper (on the far left) which is a threatened species so quite rare. The tiny Bishops Cap which you have to have a lens to view (we used our binoculars backwards), where worth the time to stop and look closely. An incredible 96 species of birds were seen also. There is not enough room to list all the flora seen by all the groups but it was amazing. Spotted mandarin, many species of violets, up to 5 species of orchids, the list goes on. Flora-Quest will happen again next year so mark your calendars.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Its also a great time to look at the butterflies around your yard and garden. Some of the early spring species won't be here long. As spring flowers, such as Eastern Redbud, begin to fade away for the year, so do the species that nectar on them.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
While you are out there, pay attention to whats happening with the birds in your area. In a short time you can learn a lot about who has territory in the area, who is nesting or who has recently fleged young already. All great information to record as part of The Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas. The Atlas effort could use your help. Additionaly, I would like to know when, and where, folks are hearing calling Whip-poor-wills AND Chuck-will's-widow. Especially the Chucks. Send us an e-mail with dates and locations of calling birds or let us know here on the Adams County notebook.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Still looking for the Louisana Waterthrush - I expect that they are here but have not yet confirmed that. Steve Willson reported singing Henslows sparrows on Saturday, March 28.
Monday, March 23, 2009
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Natural Areas and Preserves will be conducting a free educational program on the American woodcock at Chaparral Prairie State Nature Preserve on Wednesday, March 25 beginning at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited to participate as professional naturalists offer a presentation on the amazing life history of the American woodcock and the opportunity for first hand observation of the courtship rituals of these birds.
The program is free, suitable for all ages, and will be held at Chaparral Prairie State Nature Preserve, 209 Hawk Hill Road, West Union, Ohio. GPS coordinates are N38°50.422’ W083°34.427’. For more information about the program, call 937-544-9750. To learn more about Ohio’s state nature preserve system visit www.ohiodnr.com/dnap.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
There is another, often unseen occurence that could be easy to see if looked for now. As part of the Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas II effort to gather data about Ohio's breeding birds, I would encourage all to look for large nests that may be used by hawk or owl species. While we all see Red Tailed Hawks, and other hawk species, regularly in our area, how often have we seen one on the nest? How commonly, or uncommonly, do Red Tailed Hawks nest in our part of the state? Great Horned and Barred Owls will also be taking advantage of large stick nests in late winter / early spring. We can gather valuable information on raptor nesting even in the cold days of winter. It is a great time to scan the forests for large stick nests.
Once a nest has been located, try and determine if it being used. One obvious way to determine if a nest is active is to look at / into it to see if a bird is sitting in it. Often you can look onto/into a nest with a spotting scope or binoculars from some distance away. If the nest is visible from home or work, pay attention to how often birds are near it. Are birds carrying nest material to the nest? Are birds paired up near the nest? If you discover a nest and determine that it is being used by one of our hawk or owl species, please let us know. With directions from you about the location of the nest, we can report the activity in the Atlas effort and improve our knowledge base of Ohio's breeding birds.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
It is the time of year when the days are starting to warm up and the nights are still chilly. Everyone is experiencing some sense of cabin fever and they want to get out and start moving again. It is the same for Maple trees. After their long cold winter, they need to get their "juices" flowing again and when that happens, everyone knows it is maple syrup time! It is actually not very difficult to do, just a little time consuming, but in my opinion, it is well worth it. However let me warn you it can be very addicting. A couple of friends of mine who started tapping trees this year are already planning on having a bigger operation next year!
For more information on how to tap the trees, collect the sap, and make the syrup, I would suggest contacting your local county Ohio State University extension office or reading http://ohioline.osu.edu/for-fact/0036.html
Saturday, February 21, 2009
As I am writing this I am looking at a series of brush piles that I have cut and placed along the edge of my drive. Will the tangle of branches and sticks provide enough cover for the rabbit to hide and possibly nest this coming spring? Or will the tangles help keep the wrens, sparrows, and towhees away from the eyes of the neighborhood Great Horned Owl and the various hawks that fly overhead.
What about the old oak whose top was blown over in the storms. Would the snag one day be home to the Eastern Gray and Fox squirrels that I spot performing their tightrope routines in the limbs up above? Or is it big enough for an owl or maybe a raccoon to use as a daybed or even nest in? Would these storms spell the beginning of the demise of that tree? Would I see insects start to make their home there, burrowing deep in the exposed weathered wood? And would the woodpeckers soon follow endlessly pounding to find that needed nourishment? If that all happens, I know it won’t be long before other cavity nesters start moving in: the Flying Squirrels, the Eastern Screech Owl, the Opossum, and the Little Brown Bats. Would Wood Ducks, Carolina Chickadees or White-footed Mice nest in these new cavities? Is it possible that one day a Prothonotary Warbler find the cavities and sing it’s sweet song at the edge of the nearby creek?
What about the trees that were uprooted by these storms. Now they just lie like random matchsticks thrown in the air and strewn across the forest floor. How long would it be before the massive roots are invaded by a skunk trying to dig a den to have it’s kits? Maybe it will be the Red Fox whose tracks I see disappearing on the trail ahead. Would a Ruffed Grouse use a log to drum and attract it’s mate? Or would an Wild Turkey hen scratch it’s nest along a log using it’s cover to hide it familiar silhouette from the wandering Coyotes. How long would it be before the trunk is covered in mosses and fungi attracting numerous other insects and the predators that follow them? Would the salamanders and skinks that I spot scurrying along the ground and up the tree trunks hide beneath the bark which is covered by mosses and lichens?
What about the trees that fell into the pond and the lakes? Would the branches that are underwater protect the sunfish and bass fry that will hide in there? Will the numerous snapping and painted turtles pull themselves out of the water and sun themselves on the trunk on the first warm days of Spring? Would these same trunks be a fishing spot for the Great Blue and Green herons that frequent the shoreline? Would the eagles and osprey that migrate through in the Spring and Fall one day use the branches reaching out of the water as a resting place while scanning the waters for the ripple which could be their next meal? Would the Wood Ducks and Teal utilize the cover of the branches as a shield from the watchful eye of the Gray Foxes that run through here frequently? Would the Canada Geese place their nest along the root ball or the muskrat use the trunk to hide the entry to it’s den buried deep within the bank?
And then there are the open spots on the forest floor from the falling of the trees. Are these clearings now big enough for the Woodcock to perform his aerial display in the waning light of dusk and dawn? Would the seeds that have lie dormant for many years now feel the warmth of the sun and the nourishment of the rain suddenly spring forth from the leaf litter? Would trillium and hepatica suddenly appear where I have never noticed them before? Would Morel Mushrooms shoot up next to the Beech tree over there after all of these years of fruitlessly searching for them? What kind of jewels that have been hidden by these trees will now be exposed? What kind of flora will I now need help identifying because i have never seen it before?
I will admit that when I first saw the aftermath of the storms that came through the area, I was heartbroken at the destruction. But now that I look at it and really think about it, maybe these storms were a blessing in disguise. I guess it is just a matter of time and perspective!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Two Redhead ducks, Aythya americana, spent the day diving near our dock in Wrightsville today. They were joined for a time by six Ring-necked duck, Aythya collaris. A goose, either a Greater White-fronted or a domestic Greylag goose, has been hanging out near the dock for two days as well. A Red-shouldered hawk, Buteo lineatus, landed in a tree long enough to have these pictures taken.