Friday, May 29, 2015

It's official...Banana Slugs String Band Day in Troy, Ohio...May 14, 2015

Mayor Beamish, in the red cap,  presented the official proclamation.  The slugs,  Doug Dirt, Marine Mark, Solar Steve and Airy Larry have been coming to the Miami County Parks for eighteen years to share their Environmentally based songs with children.

Thousands of children, wearing costumes they have made, have come to the Hug the Earth Festival every spring and performed with the band.

Gaia Gary joins the group on their Ohio trips. He has been coming for eighteen years also.  One year he did a remarkable job drumming with his broken arm in a sling.

Thanks, Banana Slugs and Gary.  It's been great fun these past eighteen years.  Hope to see you again next spring.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Magee Marsh, Metzger Marsh, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Spring Bird Migration

Early this month, May 4, 5, and 6, Tom and I made our annual pilgrimage to Lake Erie to see the warblers stopping there before most of them flew across the lake to their nesting grounds in Canada.

We don't get up early like the truly dedicated birders do who are out at the stopping areas shortly after daylight.  Nor do we continue searching for special species till dark.  But we thoroughly enjoy seeing the birds we find as we casually bird.  My favorite activity is finding a "show-off" bird and watching it for ten or fifteen minutes.

We arrived after lunch on May 4 and birded for three hours on the Magee Marsh Boardwalk.  There was not a huge crowd.  We birded from the van in the parking lot until the light rain stopped.

Photograhers had cameras set up near the entrance platform.  A Scarlet Tanager male and female were having a flirting session.  Here is the male, stopped for the moment and a photographer taking advantage of the situation.

This was a great year for seeing Scarlet Tanagers.  Usually we only see them high in the trees.  This year we saw them flitting among lower branches along the fringes of the woods.

On May sixth Tom and I decided to see what birds were at Metzger Marsh. At the turnaround at the lake edge Tom took this photo.

Below are a few other photos from the trip.

Cape May Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

Common Terns

Ruddy Ducks

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Short Walk at Charleston Falls, May 17, 2015

The Black Locust trees at Charleston Falls (and throughout the Miami Valley) are in full bloom.  They were the first thing I  noticed when Tom dropped me off in the parking lot.  He said he'd be back after he bought a decaf coffee at a McDonald's about fifteen minutes away.

The day was overcast but I decided to be optimistic.  I left my water resistant jacket in the van and wore my lightweight hoodie.

Black Locust bloom...(Robinia pseudo-acacia)

After taking this photo, I glanced down and saw this.

A Yellow Goatsbeard (Tragopogon pratensis)

They remind me of a dandelion because of their color.  Their "fruit" is a bit like that of a dandelion but much bigger and with a more intricate pattern.  The insect reminds me of a bee but it might be a fly.  There are bee mimics in the fly family.

(June7, 2015  Here is the seedhead taken by Tom.)

I headed down the trail to the falls.  Now and then I felt a drop or two of rain.  I probably should have worn that jacket.

Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema atrorubens)

The Jack-in-the-pulpits were still looking fresh but the Mayapple flowers were fading.  Some had dropped their petals.  I probably will see the fruits (green apples) forming next Saturday.

False Solomon's Seal (also called Wild Spikenard or Showy Solomon's Seal)  Smilacina racemosa)

I was pleased to see this patch of False Solomon's Seal.  One of these flowers blooming by itself does not attract walkers but a patch of them is noticeable.

Close up of flowers

I decided to walk down into the ravine because flowers often bloom there before they bloom on the higher ridges.  The sound of the water pouring over the ledge was soft and calming.  I stopped to enjoy it.

Suddenly I was in a deluge.  I backtracked quickly, hoping Tom was back from his coffee run.  

I stopped long enough to get this photo at the top of the trail. The little spots are raindrops.

I am thankful I now have an Olympus Tough camera.  Among its admirable qualities is being waterproof to 33 feet beneath the water.

Five minutes later I was halfway to the parking lot and the rain had slowed, enough to get this photo of a Waterleaf.  I'll have to come back when the flower is out to identify it more precisely.

Waterleaf (Hydropphyllum)

The flower buds are still in a tight ball.

As I knelt down looking at the Waterleaf, I noticed these stems among the Wild Leek or Ramps

 (Allium tricoccum) leaves.  Are they the stems for the Wild Leek Flowers that bloom when the leaves have disappeared???

Friday, May 8, 2015

Burrowing Owls in Cape Coral, Florida, February 27, 2015

Tom and I had already spent most of the day walking at Corkscrew Swamp and we were tired.  But neither of us had ever seen a burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia) and since we were close to Coral Gables, we decided to look.  We had been told that the burrows were marked with the white pipes which was a help.

Burrowing owls are classified as a species of special concern by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.  The burrows, owls and their eggs are protected from harassment and/or disturbance by state law.  The owls are also protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Tom and I debated about whether the owls lived in other animals' burrows or dug their own.  According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the birds generally dig their own burrows in sandy soil.

The owls hunt during the day as well as at dusk and dawn.  We arrived at the Coral Gables library about 3:30 and watched as we sat in our van in the parking  lot.  No owls. We drove around the block and saw other PVC pipes but no owls. So we went back to our parking place at the library.  Finally at 6:30, just as the sun was going down we decided to take one last tour of the PVC pipes.  This time we were fortunate.

The owl is about the size of Tom's fist.

Tom took 3 photos from the van, then we left the owls to their evening hunt.  But we will have this special birding memory forever.