Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bigelow Cemetery State Nature Preserve, Madison County, Ohio



After I wrote the blog about the Royal Catchflies in our yard and our experiences with them, Tom and I decided it was time to make the excusion to see Bigelow Cemetery State Nature Preserve, the place where we first saw Royal Catchflies.

The first time I saw the cemetery was with a group of volunteers from Brukner in the early nineteen eighties.  This sign had not been erected.  Naturalists in Ohio had only recently become interested in the prairies that appear here and there in Ohio.


Tom and I have been here many times over the years. The first times he and I both walked the paths. Now Tom waits in the van while I explore.  He brought a book along to read while I walked for forty minutes.


The trees in the distance are Burr Oaks, the tree associated with Ohio prairies.  Its tough thick bark can withstand prairie fires.


This monument marks the burial spot of Stephen Smith, age 11, who died in 1833. The earliest tombstones date to 1814 and the last known burial was in 1892.


                                          Prairie Dock



This is the gravestone of Dr. William King.  He "Died April the 14th 1844  Aged 30 years 11months and 5 days".  Many of these stones have the exact day of the person's death described like this.  It makes me feel that people appreciated every day that they lived.  Below, mostly hidden by the flowers is a message:
"My glass has run, my grave you see
In time prepare to follow me.
Go home dear friends and dry your tears,
I must lie here til Christ appears.
And when he does, i hope to rise
Unto a life that never dies."

                                        Sainfoin (Scurf-Pea)

Mostly Gray-headed Coneflower, two Purple Coneflowers, and two Royal Catchflies.  Burr Oaks in the background.

                     Honeybee on Wild Bergamot

                               Painted Lady

Leaves and developing acorns of the Burr Oak

Various prairie flowers.

In this photo, you can get a good look at the calyx beneath the red petals.  The calyx is sticky which is why the plant is called a "catchfly".

I saw a Ruby-throated hummingbird at least a half dozen times nectaring at the Royal Catchflies but I wasn't as fast with my camera as the hummingbird was with his wings.  I'll just have to keep him in my memory.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Hot Water Again, Thanks to Five Star Plumbing

July 7. Friday evening, I went down the basement to take clothes out of the dryer.

Oh, dear!  See that water on the floor?


I investigated, found the leak, reported to Tom, found the owner's manual in our box of manuals, noted that the water heater was past its expected lifetime, decided to get a new one.


On Saturday, we went to a local Hardware Big Box Store, found the hotwater heater we wanted and were promised delivery within 72 hours.


Tuesday...more than 72 hours later.  Glad the water heater was in the basement.  Tom called the installer.  Someone would be out on Friday!  Tom called the Big Box Store.  The salesperson told Tom he would contact another installer.  

Good news!  The installer promised to be out on Wednesday.

Happy dance!  

Another happy dance when Five Star Plumbing sent Brandon out on Wednesday.  


Joy reigns!  Brandon is a pleasant, friendly young man and and a good plumber.  

We have a new hot water heater.  We will certainly recommend Five Star Plumbing to our friends and neighbors.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Butterfly Transect...2017 Update

I haven't been posting weekly butterfly reports from the Brukner Nature Center Butterfly Transect because we haven't been seeing many butterflies.  One week we saw NONE.  That was a disappointing walk.

I looked through the statistical results from 2016 this morning.  July is usually a good month for butterflies so maybe next week we will see more.

We walked on July 9.  Ruth thought she saw an American Snout butterfly while she was waiting for the group to gather but we didn't see one on the walk.  When we don't see many butterflies we entertain ourselves by paying attention to other plants and animals.

Ruth found Monarch eggs on the Milkweed plants near the Interpretive Center so we know Monarchs have been around.  We found chewed leaves but no caterpillars.

Ruth found this as we headed toward the meadow...a crab spider with lunch.


We were almost in luck when we walked through the meadow.  I say "almost in luck" because we saw two dark swallowtails...one flying on our left and the other on our right.  Jim said he thought he got a photo of one of them.  When Ruth sends us a note about the next walk, she will let us know if she was able to determine the species.  We could have been seeing a Spicebush Swallowtail, a Pipevine Swallowtail or the dark female morph of the Tiger Swallowtail.

The butterflies, the few we saw, were not sitting but I found this...


I'll put it up on the Ohio Mothing Facebook page and see if someone can tell me what it is.

I took photos of a couple plants we have no names for.  This is the first one.


I have already posted the plant photos below to Ohio Wildflowers.  We were fairly sure the plant was in the same family as Queen Anne's Lace.  We were right.  Helpful folks identified it as Japanese Hedge Parsley.  Our area must be perfect for it.  There is a lot of it at Charleston Falls as well as at Brukner.



Along the walk we saw a few Red Admirals but none were close enough for photos until we started along the drive back to the Interpretative Center.


We saw a Summer Azure sitting for a picture.


We also saw at least one Eastern Tailed Blue.

There were Cabbage Whites flying here and there as we walked...not many considering how numerous they can be.

One dragonfly posed for us.


And a doe walked out into the soybean field on the other side of the fence.



Friday, July 7, 2017

The Spiral of Life...Royal Catchflies


It is interesting to me how life spirals as the years go by, how separate events become part of a story in my life that I didn't see happening until now, now that I can look back and see how one event led to another.

Royal Catchflies have become a connection of events in my life.

Back in the late seventies or early eighties, I began volunteering for Brukner Nature Center in Troy, Ohio.  One of the first Brukner Volunteer trips I went on was to visit the prairies of Madison and Champaign Counties.  Ralph Ramey was our guide.  His name is known to many Ohio naturalists and environmentalists. The boardwalk at Cedar bog in Champaign County is named for him.


One of the remnant prairie sites he took us to was Bigelow Prairie Cemetery in Madison County.  It was there that I first saw the Royal Catchfly.  I don't remember there being much in the way of trails.  We just followed Ralph to the back of the small cemetery.  There, amid old tombstones and other prairie flowers were these brilliant red flowers.For a long time Bigelow was the only known Ohio site for these flowers.

Part of the reason Ralph loved the prairies was because he loved the butterflies attracted to the plants found in them.  His love of butterflies kindled my love of butterflies as well as prairies.

Tom and I began going to the Ohio Prairie Conferences.  The conferences were small in those days, fewer than a hundred people.  One year the conference was held in former school  near Germantown.  There, a woman, older than we were then (and younger than we are now) was proudly displaying the Royal Catchfly plants she had raised from seed.  They were her babies.  She wanted people to see them but she wasn't interested in giving them to most people.  They were too precious.

Onward ten years or so... the Darke County Parks volunteers began having plant sales and one of the plants they were selling was the Royal Catchfly.  We bought one but it died despite our  care.
The following year, we didn't go to the sale but a friend did.  She remembered our desire for a Royal Catchfly and she brought us one.  It was a weak, small plant but she said that was the only one they had left by the time she arrived.  That plant grew into the clump of Royal Catchfly we have now, the one in the photo above.

Now Ohio Wildflower Nurseries sell Royal Catchflies.  Last year we planted one in Tom's prairie patch that he planted around two large rocks brought down from Canada by the glaciers.

This year we have the start of another beautiful clump of Royal Catchfly.  The arrow marks the spot where the Royal Catchfly is.


A closer photo of the plant.


I took this photo early on July 3.If you look carefully you can see two buds showing red tips.

Late in the afternoon, I took this photo.


Hooray for Royal Catchflies.

Update...July10, 2017...




Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Space Pirates, A New Children's Musical, presented by children in the summer program of the Troy Recreational Department

My daughter, Sonja Hyer, directs the Troy Rec Department's Children's Musical Theater productions. This is at least her tenth year as director.  The Troy Civic Theatre provides the stage, lights and sound system.

This year she was aided by  Rebecca O'Brien and Sydney Edington.  Katie Swank was in charge of the music and choreography, something she has done for several years. It is fun to see the imaginative choreography and the enthusiasm of the cast as they dance and sing.

 I saw the first of two performances last Tuesday afternoon.  Fiona Atkinson was the lighting and sound technician for that performance.

The cast consisted of students who will be in first, second, third, fourth, and fifth grades this fall.  They had about twenty hours of rehearsals.  As a comparison, the typical community theater group (adults) generally has at least forty hours of rehearsals, often more.

The play begins as a museum docent is about to take a group of children on a tour.

The docent is dressed in black at the far left.  The children are singing a song about what they think they will be seeing..."Old Stuff".


Suddenly four of the children find themselves spinning and moving through space and time.  They wind up on an alien spaceship.


"Taylor", the boy, is not happy when the aliens decide to take the children to their home planet, Zoogleblotz.  He knows what aliens are like and he warns his classmates what to expect by singing "That's What Aliens Do'.  And that is nothing good.

More aliens join in as they dance and sing about their wonderful home.

In the alien lab, the scientists examine the earthlings.

The scientists teach the children about being an alien and living on the alien planet.


The children don't really want to live on the alien planet. They want to go home  They don't know more trouble is on the way.

An pirate ship looking for other ships to loot and plunder attacks the alien vessel.

The pirates want their captives to become pirates.  They dance and sing a song,  "If You Want to be a Pirate"


The captives don't want to be pirates. The aliens want to go home to Zooglebotz.  The children want to go home to earth. Since that is the case, the pirates plan to make the captives walk the plank.

The sad captives sing the "Captured by Space Pirate Blues".


But the plucky captain of the aliens manages to escape the ropes and finds the box that will return them to the alien ship when she pushes the button on the box.


Once back on the alien ship, the alien's captain sends the children on to the museum on earth.

Strangely, every thing seems to be normal when they return.  And normal is all right with them.

Here the entire cast returns to sing and dance again to the alien song, Argh A Riptoo.

The final bows...



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Our Second Trip to Cedar Bog This Year...June 12, 2017


After our half hour visit to Cedar Bog on May 31, we decided we wanted to go back when the Grass Pink Orchids were blooming.  We invited our friend, John to come with us.  The tree we are looking at is a Yellow Maple.  It marks the "Y" in the circular trail.


At the "Y" we turned to the right.

The Tuberous Indian Plantain (Cacalia tuberosa) was beginning to be showy.  There will be larger flower heads.

A little further down the trail, I found this Milkweed (Asclepias)  One of the experts from the Ohio Wildflower Facebook site told me it was Poke Milkweed (Asclepias exaltata) one of two species of woodland milkweeds in Ohio.


Meanwhile, Tom was taking photos of a Damselfly, an Ebony Jewelwing male (Calopteryx maculata).  Damselflies usually sit with wings folded upright while Dragonflies usually sit with wings spread.

At the Sedge Meadow, Tom found the Showy Lady's Slippers still blooming.

Showy Lady's Slippers (Cypripedium reginae)

In the same sedge meadow, he found the first Grass Pink (Calopogon pulchellus)  We saw more further from the boardwalk and also more in the next section of Sedge Meadow that the boardwalk passed through.





In the second section of Sedge Meadow we found the Round-leafed Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia).  We knew where to find them because years ago we went on a guided walk.  The plants are very tiny, only a little bigger than the lid on a small jar of bread and butter pickles.  They are fascinating to me because they are very tiny, yet are a carnivorous plant.

Round-leafed Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia)

Far out in the sedge meadow, we saw this plant.  Fortunately, Tom has a camera that could take the distant shot.


I posted this photo on Ohio Wildflowers and learned that it was Phlox maculata.

In this same meadow, Shrubby Cinquefoil were beginning to bloom.

Shrubby Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa)

Below is a plant I find interesting.  I first saw it years ago when I was exploring with a park naturalist off the trail at Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary.  It was a rare oportunity to go into the usually unseen parts of the woods.  He explained that it was believed to have been called Nein bark by early German settlers because the bark peels off the branches.  The name, over time, has become Ninebark.  The flowers are not at their most beautiful showy selves in this photo.


Here is a crop of the photo above showing the long curving branches on which the old bark peels off in layers.



This is a photo that Tom took when we visited the bog last June 11 when the flowers were showy.

Ninebark (Rubus odoratus) a member of the Rose family.


There were a lot of Tall Meadow Rue Plants.  It is a species in which there are male and female plants are on different plants.

Tall Meadow Rue (Thalictrum polygamum) with male flowers.

Tall Meadow Rue with female flowers.

All along the trail we saw butterflies but none of them stayed around long enough for Tom or me to get a picture.

We were finishing our walk when Tom found this Red Admiral.  It was down in the grasses so interested in whatever was there that it stayed for a bit longer than the other butterflies.

Red Admiral ( Vanessa atalanta rubria)