Marsh Marigold (above) - vs - Lesser Celandine (below)
Lesser Celandine can be found in open woods, waste areas, meadows, and floodplains preferring sandy soil. It closely resembles the Marsh Marigold and is often misidentified as such.
To tell the difference between the two it's important to know the native Marsh Marigold has only 5-9 petals where as the Lesser Celandine has 8-12, and the leaves of the Marsh Marigold are round sometimes kidney shaped where as the Lesser Celandine which has more of a heart shape.
Marsh Marigolds tend to stay in small bunches and do not have the same sort of underground tuber system that the Lesser Celandine have.
If left to go it will completely blanket the area displacing many native plant species, especially those with the similar spring-flowering life cycle. Some examples of native spring ephemerals which become choked out by the Lesser Celandine include bloodroot, wild ginger, spring beauty, harbinger-of-spring, twinleaf, squirrel-corn, trout lily, trilliums, Virginia bluebells, and many, many others. These plants provide critical nectar and pollen for native pollinators, and fruits and seeds for other native insects and wildlife species. Because Lesser Celandine emerges well in advance of the native species, it has a developmental advantage which allows it to establish and overtake areas rapidly.
But have you ever really sat with mosses?
Especially this time of year with their bright rich greens and yellows, the sporophytes rising high.
If you look close, there are even some hornworts ribboning through the moss!
Consider this your invitation to slow down and look closer this weekend.
Tomorrow we welcome back Spring
Tomorrow is the first day of spring, the Spring Equinox.
The change of each season is a great time to take a moment to reflect over the past season.
It has been a strange winter - extreme in both temperature and precipitation, not a peaceful calm winter of gentle snows and quiet moments. While I longed for the respite that comes with a calm season, sometimes we need the difficult times to appreciate the good and to learn to maneuver and grow.
At this point I could insert any number of cliches but really, life is hard, growth is hard, some days are so difficult to get through, but life is also beautiful, hope can be found around every corner, joy will return when you least expect it.
There's a balance to it all, a yin and yang dance to various degrees.
But enough waxing philosophical, what signs of spring have you been noticing?
Over the past month we've been watch the migratory waterfowl move back in to the area. Pintails, mergansers, and ringneck ducks speckling the wetlands.
In the woods, the tiniest early spring wildflowers begin to bloom. Here we found a Harbinger of Spring (Erigenia bulbosa) at Crall Woods in Ashland.
Many trees have started blooming already, the robins are growing abundant, and the days are growing longer.
Although it's snowing today, tomorrow brings spring and all the hope of a new season.
Let me know in the comments what signs of spring you're seeing.
The common Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) goes by various other names, coughwort, hallfoot, horsehoof, foalswort, fieldhove, bullsfoot, donnhove, and in France Pas d'âne.
One of the earliest flowers to bloom, coltsfoot's flowers superficially resemble the dandelion, upon further inspection you will clearly be able to tell the difference by size (flowers are much smaller) the stem (much thicker, scaly, and taller) and the leaves are either nonexistent when blooming or the full round leaves (resembling a colt's foot) where as the dandelion have oblong sharp lobed leaves.
Flowers can be found blooming February - June.
Originally from Europe, settlers introduced the coltsfoot to America for medicinal purposes. As a medicinal herb, coltsfoot has been used for many purposes: cough dispeller, in treating asthma, bronchitis, and other respirator ills.
In the past in Paris, the coltsfoot flowers would be painted as a sign on the doorpost of an apothecaries shop.
An extract of fresh leaves can be used for making cough drops or hard candy, and its dried leaves can be steeped for a tea.
(pregnant, young, and elderly should take caution using this herb)
In many years, this day is still held in silence, often under a blanket of snow. The long winter drawing to a close, the daylight growing stronger with each passing day but the cold wind still cutting through.
Right on schedule the skunks are awake and looking for a mate - a good way to remember this is to imagine skunks look for a valentine (mid Feb love is in the air and it's the smell of skunks). Squirrels have been changing their chattering and can be found gathering nest materials, yep, squirrels are mating too.
The redwing blackbirds have started singing and chasing competitors away from their perch and the migratory waterfowl have been making their way through the area.
A walk in the woods in early spring shows a quiet hidden world, for at first glance everything is bare and brown. The trees are empty, the ground still covered in leaves, mud covers everything else.
Then you sit. A fallen tree as a bench. You close your eyes and you start to listen. At first you hear the wind in the trees, sandhill cranes call as they fly overhead, then the small trickle as the water seeps through the soil, sounds of small insects moving just under the leaf litter.
Eyes open you can now see the tiny red velvet mite walking over leaves (no they won't hurt you). Those leaves are just barely covering the emerging green leaves of the spring beauty. Next to that you notice a stalk sticking out of the ground, scaly it looks almost like an asparagus -it's not- it is one of the earliest wildflowers - the Coltsfoot! As you watch the Coltsfoot, looking around for more, you spot a snake sunning on a branch nearby -an eastern racer? Knowing there are very few venomous snakes in Ohio you sit and observe it slowly warming in the morning sun. Respectfully you give it space and head back to your car.
Sometimes when I say take a walk, what I mean is go outside but be still. Walk slow, quiet your mind, breathe and observe.
All this happened within 20 feet from the parking area.
Once every couple of years we get the opportunity to explore frozen waterfalls.
Bundle up, walk with caution, and do take the opportunity!
I woke up early this frozen morning of Feb 4th, temperature read a crisp -7* as I was walking out the door.
This is a sight I've been wanting to see for years, but the weather or time or just thinking about the cold temperatures has kept me from doing it.
I arrived at the first fall about an hour after sunrise. The path to the creek was covered with enough snow to add traction but attempting to descend the hill following the normal path down to the falls was nothing but a thick sheet of ice. I slid on my bum about 1/4 of the way down before resigning that that was a terrible idea. Back at the top of the hill I noticed a set of footprints following the hill path, so I followed them over and down to a (sort of) safer way down the slope.
(I feel I should note here, wear lots of layers, proper shoes, and a sturdy hiking pole - all these things make the biggest difference!)
This first fall was pretty solid when I arrived, a light trickling sound behind the ice. After a few loud booms which I assumed were passing trucks, I realized it was the ice crashing down warmed just enough by the morning sun!
The cold began to sting my cheeks (though totally covered) so I went back to the car and warmed up on my way to the second waterfall.
By the time I reached the second fall the sun was gone again and the wind cut across the field sharply. This path was much less icy, even leading to the magical realm that is behind the falls. The water was moving much faster here creating interesting ice sculptures and sounds - check out the video here.
After a couple of hours exploring the frozen falls it was time to warm up and make my way home.
To see a familiar sight in a new light is always a great treat. I'm glad I braved the cold to experience this.
I hope you push yourselves out of your comfort zones and explore somewhere familiar but in a new light.
Beginning in late winter, the skunk cabbage is the first life to emerge from the cold snow covered ground. Through rapid growth, its cellular respiration actually melts the snow around it reaching up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit! The skunk cabbage gets its name from the smell emitted from the spathe (reddish brown thing) generally after disruption or bruising. This smell is important as it attracts the flies that will then pollinate the spadix (round yellow ball that sits inside the spathe: not shown). By late spring, a tight roll of bright green leaves emerge from next to the spathe, slowly unraveling into huge green cabbage-like leaves that will blanket the wet and wooded area in which it lies.
New Year | 2023
January: Named from the Roman god Janus, who is represented with two faces looking in opposite directions - as retrospective to the past and prospective to the future.
A new year, let it start slow - although this year is warmer than most, soon the cold, muted snow will come, then bit by bit will begin unfolding new traits, the rains come, a flower opens, the skunk emerges from its slumber.
While it's easy to get caught up thinking about the future, don't forget to pause and enjoy this ever so brief moment of stillness.
Let yourself stand out in the elements today, breathe in the cool stillness, only now, right now, on this day (whenever you're reading this) this breath is just for you and only you and will never be exactly like this, these scents, these sensations, ever again. How full yet fleeting a mindful moment can be.
Wishing you all a wonderful 2023.
We are fast approaching the darkest day of the year.
Have you sat quietly with nature and listened?
There's a message out there for you:
"Slow down, rest"
Now is not the time for doing.
Now is the time for quiet reflection and gratitude.
Now is not sowing, growing, or even reaping.
Now is rest.
As we end one cycle, the Solstice arrives and as that brief moment passes a new time of growth begins.
Take these next few days to slowly walk or sit peacefully in reflection and find a gratitude for this past growing season.
While out in the woods this autumn I was overwhelmed with sadness, all the trees I knew lay in mangled messes. The sights once so familiar were alien. So I sat with them and began to look around. The newly opened understory was full of teeny tiny oaks, finally with enough light to stretch up and grow.
I will never know those oak saplings as the old majestic beings that their mother trees were, but they will grow and generations from now they will be known.
A quiet settles over the forest
Only the sound of wind in the trees
shaking and rattling
the gentle creak of trees resting together
Around the bend squirrels rustle through the leaves
looking for the last fallen acorns
A squeak brings the eyes up
where stealthily a nuthatch climbs
to hide food in the heavy bark
of the old oak tree
Winter Hiking Tips
The leaves have all fallen,
the sun sets early now,
winter will soon be upon us.
As the sky sheds it's first flakes of snow, your first instinct may be to lock yourself inside with a warm cup of tea and put away your hiking boots until spring. Do not do this! (except maybe the tea, yum!)
Hiking in the winter can be just as enjoyable as any other time as long as you are properly dressed and prepared for any and all the elements.
Honestly, until the past few years I dreaded winter, I hated not being outside, I felt my body deteriorating due to lack of physical activity (sure I could go to the gym but ugh), the lack of natural light would stoke the flames of winter depression, but most of all I could not stand being cold.
All of these problems I was able to fix in one easy step.... dressing properly for the outdoors!
Once I made this one little change, winter was no longer a daunting task; being outside, getting my muscles moving, enjoying the sharp winter sun, all helped alleviate the seasonal depression. Before I knew it I was enjoying winter hiking just as much as summer. Winter posed a challenge to me, all the trails I could fly through in the warm months were once again challenging, I had to push myself physically and mentally through drifts of snow, up icy hills, down steep slopes.
Tips for safely enjoying winter hiking.
Johnsons Woods | November | One Year
And just like that we arrived in the heart of autumn.
Observations: Sunny, mid 60s
Trees are mostly bare - only the beech and the upper canopy of the oaks are still holding leaves.
All around the sound of crunchy leaves falling on crunchy leaves. I had to turn around numerous times to see if someone was walking behind me (crunch crunch) but it was always just the sounds of the leaves falling.
This is the time of year when you can use your nose to determine what type of forest you're in - how different the oak dominated woods smell from the maple dominated from the beech dominated. Follow your nose down the path.
Looking around, all that remains green are the evergreen forbs - the cat brier, the avens, the Christmas ferns.
Nuthatches and squirrels join the chorus of falling leaves - a seasonal soundtrack
Best bird sighting happened right at the hickory tree in the photo. A brown creeper darted up and around the trunk!
Kidron Community Park - First Visit
A beautiful autumn day, clouds mixing with sun, the leaves turning bright yellow, red, and orange, a lovely day for a drive to Amish country.
Tucked away in the south-west corner of Wayne County, Kidron is an unincorporated village, home to the Sonnenberg Heritage Center (Swiss Mennonite), Lehman's Hardware, and an auction barn. The newest attraction that I've been hearing about is their community park.
I hate to admit I was skeptical... a community park with baseball fields, playgrounds, rec. center is rarely where you go for hiking (although Freedlander Park in Wooster does have a nice trail).
Upon arrival I drove around for a while, two driveways with two lanes make it easy to navigate, and if you miss a turn, you can likely find another loop to take you back. In the front are playgrounds, facilities (restrooms) are housed in a building not far, beyond that is the baseball diamond, follow the lane back and you'll come across the community center and the recreation center, and there, all the way in the back, across the lane from the centers is a sign "Covered Bridge and Hiking Trails"
Good enough! I park in a paved parking spot, but the gravel lane leads to hiking closer to the covered bridge. Short trails lead to a rustic walking path, parallel to a horse path. This leads down a slight decline to the covered bridge. On left and on right are picnic areas and maintained bird feeders.
From here it gets interesting. Blazes on trees lead you through the woods, winding along an almost labyrinth-like pathway. It's easy to let the mind rest while listening to the wind in the leaves. At one point it leads next to a cornfield letting beautiful autumn light through.
The leaves were absolutely gorgeous. As it goes with this time of year, most of the understory plants have faded back, but it looks like it might be a nice place to view wildflowers in the spring.
The only downside has been the trails are not mapped and many lead in different directions. There are single blazes (usually saying "this is the trail") and double blazes (usually saying "the trail splits here") and once I noticed a triple blaze. Without a map this was confusing, but lucky for me I had most of the day to explore.
I plan on going back and gps my walk next time so I have an idea as to how it actually goes.
All in all a really nice rustic trail, I recommend checking it out if you're in the area and have some time to spend.
The address is 4434 Kidron Road, Kidron, OH
From September to October
So far the biggest change is the position of the sun.
Although further down the trail the maples are turning bright red and a pair of deer foraged next to the trail.
Be mindful of October, blink and all the leaves will turn!
Get out and enjoy!
Let's enjoy Johnson's Woods and watch how it changes in the span of a year.
Still warmth in the air
The forest floor plants are dying back
The progression from summer to fall has begun
Soon the bareness of the forest floor will make its way to the tips of the trees
But not just yet
From the tops of the trees comes the sound of rain
The sound of rain on a clear sunny day can only mean one thing
The caterpillars are crunching munching the leaves up above
The sound is post digestion
When looking up, try not to gape with your mouth wide open
The sun began to set
Chipmunks with so much to say made off to their dens(?)
A distant ‘whoo cooks for you’ echos through the trees
The majestic ancient trees
The old growth forest that remains
And will grow and change, grow and change
How many generations of barred owls have hatched, fledged, and nested in these trees
I’ve met two
Where the canopy has cracked open
And the branches have rested
The mosses, fungi, lichen, and beetles reclaiming them in the name of the earth
Late summer plants are making their final stand
Jewelweed and nettle, smartweed and beechdrops, knotweed and turtlehead
Soon enough they’ll join the spring beauties and the violets, the trillium and the trout lily
Where they rest
as fallen seeds
as hidden tubers
as corms and bulbs
Until March when the calls of the thrush
For now though, let’s walk through September
One step, one day
And appreciate the changes happening right before our eyes
Just on the outskirts of the little village in Ohio called Killbuck is a vast network of marshes, swamps, and forests, all part of the Killbuck Watershed.
Through grants and incredibly generous donors, 152 acres have been preserved in what is now called the Killbuck Swamp.
August 27th we had the great opportunity to explore this area by taking part in the Arc of Appalachia's Tree People program. Randy Carmel, President of the Killbuck Watershed Land Trust led the way.
We started from the village of Killbuck a little after 10am. Eight of us gathered together, packed lunches, water, and bug spray in tow ready to learn about trees as well as explore this new preserve. As we walked across the bridge we could look down at the Killbuck Creek; from around this point heading north, the Creek has been dredged and straightened leading to many ecological and geographical problems, not only does the water move too fast to provide the habitat needed for many aquatic animals, the speed also causes erosion and frequent flooding. On the south side, where the Creek has been allowed to bend and curve, hosting proper floodplains, an incredible community of plants and animals thrive including (discovered in 1990) the only reproducing population of the rarest freshwater mussels, the cat's paw pearly mussel (Episblasma obliquata obliquata).
The purple cat's paw pearlymussel is one of our rarest freshwater mussels and it was truly on the brink of extinction when listed in 1990. At the time of listing, a few live adults could be found but they were too old to reproduce. We thought that the species was functionally extinct. In 1994, surveyors found a reproducing population in Killbuck Creek, Ohio. Since that time, successful captive propagation efforts have lead to multiple reintroductions of the species into streams where it historically occurred. (Source USFWS)
Beyond the creek we learned the keys to identifying different trees - how the leaves are arranged, opposite, whorled, alternate, as well as singular or compound, and leaf margins.
This led us down an old oil well road (well is now capped) the first part of the Killbuck Swamp Preserve. All around, the squeaky splash of leopard frogs jumping out of the way greeted us. As ever my passion, the wildflowers had me intrigued, was this cup plant really growing in the wild?!! Indeed it was.
This path led to an open floodplain which at one point had been drained and farmed.
Tiles removed, the marsh makes a quick rebound recreating an area rich in biodiversity.
Through the trees you can see the spadderdock down below, leading out to a swamp. In the far distance the hill leads to the old quarry.
Randy Carmel explains how the glaciers formed this area and the braided streams (sometimes known as oxbow swamps).
Back on the road we have a great view of the wetlands as we make our way to the big hill and journey up to the quarry.
Crossing the road, we come across a dilapidated shack (soon to become a parking area, you can help by volunteering here), finding the path, we weave our way up the steep hill, past boulders, ferns, mosses.
Always remembering to take your time, stop to look at things.
Eventually we made our way to the quarry road.
Learning about hop horn -vs- ironwood, the smaller trees, as well as admiring the much larger beech and tulip trees. One of the most incredible finds was an actual living American Chestnut!!! We learned how to identify the blight (bright orange inside the bark grooves) which it had, but somehow this species was growing pretty strong!
On top of the ridge we stopped for lunch before continuing on to the quarry.
The quarry, now reclaimed by nature, hosts an incredible array of plants, mosses, and lichen (and so much more I'm sure).
At the far end of the quarry, we see where the work stopped. This was due to the variegation in the stone which (though I find it beautiful) was thought to be of inferior quality.
We made our way back down another old quarry drive we stop and admire a massive tulip tree. Winding through the understory we make our way back to the dilapidated shack (soon to be a parking area) and journey back to our cars.
A white turtlehead plant (Chelone glabra) grows roadside. I'm so in awe of the native wildflowers that still grow wild in this area.
Once we all gathered back at the vehicles, we decided to make a quick caravan trip to another natural area, part of the Preserve, just a few miles away. From Killbuck, you take 60 south until you see a parking area on the right at a curve in the road (yes, I know, those are not the clearest directions) see screenshots. Pull off and park, then follow the path (south is currently clear, north will be easier to see once the leaves are down) it was recommended to wait until mosquito season is over, but this path is open to the public and is great for birdwatching as it travels along an ecotone (this area is between the marsh and swamp, and open prairie and sometimes wooded area) - if I remember correctly this area is to be called Crane Pond due to the nesting sandhill cranes (I could be mistaken, please let me know in the comments).
I am so looking forward to going back to explore this area in the different seasons. Although it is located in Holmes County, it's a quick 36 minute drive from Wooster and well worth the trip.
I want to thank the Arc of Appalachia for hosting the Tree People event - "Thirty tree instructors teaching tree ecology and tree ID led field trips at 30 locations, attended by 300 students! " Learn more about the areas they preserve, events they host, and all they do at the link HERE.
A HUGE thank you to Randy Carmel for leading our hike and the Killbuck Watershed Land Trust for preserving this incredible area and making it available to the public.
You can learn all about what KWLT does HERE
Volunteers are needed - sign up HERE
Donations are also needed to secure lands like these - donate HERE
We are in a unique position where on one side we have large open fields (corn, soybeans, wheat, etc) and the other side a decent into a valley of rich wetlands.
This has made birdwatching incredibly interesting.
A few weeks ago, right on schedule, the honking began. The next day it was nearly a roar. That's right, the Canada geese are back!
Our unique position has put us directly along their flight path; in the morning they rise from the valley with the fog, in the evening they return from eating in the fields.
I've been especially fascinated by their whiffling behavior.
Watch the video below to see what I mean - they tumble comically out of the sky, briefly.
About whiffling in general, this is what Wikipedia has to say:
"Whiffling is a term used in ornithology to describe the behavior whereby a bird rapidly descends with a zig-zagging, side-slipping motion. Sometimes to whiffle, a bird flies briefly with its body turned upside down but with its neck and head twisted 180 degrees around in a normal position. The aerodynamics which usually give a bird lift during flying are thereby inverted and the bird briefly plummets toward the ground before this is quickly reversed and the bird adopts a normal flying orientation. This erratic motion resembles a falling leaf, and is used to avoid avian predators or may be used by geese (family Anatidae) to avoid a long, slow descent over an area where wildfowling is practised."
While watching these geese last year and more closely this year, a pattern is beginning to emerge.
In the first few days, the geese make their way to the wetlands in the evening (roughly between 8 and 8:30pm), some in small groups, many in large. As they reach the tree line, where the view opens and the wetlands (down the hill in the valley) become visible, the whiffling begins until the speeds have been adjusted and a proper land can be made.
As the days go by, the whiffling mostly subsides; they've learned the landmarks and where the water is and when to slow down.
Some unchecked and untested theories of mine:
Are the ones who whiffle a lot yearlings just learning the area?
Do geese get distracted then say "oh there's the water!" and roll down the valley?
Is it just fun and the geese re converging with their old friends are playing?
I have no way to know, but it's fun to think about.
I want to start by thanking everyone who has followed along through all these years. As the time goes by things change, the seasons, the dreams. I've had a wonderful time putting together so many projects and am hoping to start back up again soon.
That being said, I am curious to know how you've used this site and/or products offered as well as any thoughts on how you'd like to see it grow.
Please, even if you've only read one post, fill out this short survey so I may learn more about how you use this site and how I can help you grow your appreciation for the great outdoors.
Thank you, happy hiking!
Dragonflies & Damselflies
A Summer's Day - Poem
Happy June 1st everyone!
You may have seen or heard this quote before, or maybe not, but it comes from a poem by the poet Abba Louise Goold Woolson published in 1915 in the book "With Garlands Green".
While this quote sums up the heart filling love that comes with the newly filled trees, the first garden veggies, the gardens bursting with color, the poem is so much more beautiful.
Below you can find "A Summer's Day" by Abba Goold Woolson
Black bees on the clover-heads drowsily clinging,
where tall, feathered grasses and buttercups sway;
And all through the fields a white sprinkle of daisies,
Open-eyed at the setting of day.
Oh the heaps of sweet roses, sweet cinnamon roses,
In great crimson thickets that cover the wall;
And flocks of bright butterflies giddy to see them,
And a sunny blue sky over all.
Trailing boughs of the elms drooping over the hedges,
Where spiders their glimmering laces have spun;
And breezes that bend the light tops of the willows
And down through the meadow-grass run.
Silver-brown little birds sitting close in the branches,
And yellow wings flashing from hillock to tree,
And wide-wheeling swallows that dip to the marshes,
And bobolinks crazy with glee;-
So crazy they soar through the glow of the sunset
And warble their merriest notes as they fly,
Nor heed how the moths hover low in the hollows
And the dew gathers soft in the sky.
Then a round beaming moon o’er the blossomed hill coming,
Making paler the fields and the shadows more deep;
And through the wide meadows a murmurous humming
Of insects too happy to sleep.
Enchanted I sit on the bank by the willow
And hum the last snatch of a rollicking tune;
And since all this loveliness cannot be Heaven,
I know in my heart it is June.
Did you know we have a Plant Profile section on the website?
You can find it under the Blog tab (see photo)
There we have flowers organized - more or less - in the order that they bloom.
Click on an individual flower and it will take you to the blog post with all sorts of info on that particular plant (some are of photo and name when a blog post hasn't been created yet)
And just like that, April became May.
From early sprouts beginning to emerge early in the month a crescendo rises until the end of the month when we have an explosion of spring wildflowers. Let's revisit some highlights.
April 8th - Bog & Killbuck Marsh
Spring morning at the bog. No sign of the ferns, but the mosses were practically glowing green after all the rain we had. A squirrel chattered at me from its branch in the poison sumac tree. After a while he went back to eating the sumac berries (I had no idea they would eat those!). The warm earthy bog smell is slowly coming back, I sit on the boardwalk letting the sun warmed scents waft around me for a few minutes. On my way out, sitting there in the middle of the boardwalk is an owl pellet!
Owl pellets are little oval clusters of fur and bones indigestible by owls who eat their prey whole. After swallowing their meal, the owl's gizzard separates the soft tissue from the indigestible bits, collecting them in a mass to be regurgitated as a pellet some hours later.
I couldn't be sure what little rodent/s had been digested but it was fascinating to observe. Now upon retrospect, I should have looked up to see if the owl was still up in the tree.
By the parking area, a cutleaf toothwort in bud waits for a few more warm days to bloom.
From the bog I went down to the Marsh. Down in the valley, a dusty pull off area with an unassuming deer trail of a path leads to a world hidden from the road. Following the path towards the woods I came across a wet area filled with skunk cabbage beginning to leaf out. Turning from them I nearly stepped on a very sleepy groundhog. Even after my startled "EEK!" it was not at all concerned with me so I let it be and up the hill I climbed. Here and there shoots and sprouts were poking up from under the leaf litter. I found a fallen tree with a view of the marsh below and the hill above, this will be my observation point.
Sightings from my tree: Great egrets, great blue heron, sandhill cranes, bald eagles (juv.), blue winged teal, Canada geese, at least one towhee, wren, sorts of sparrows, cutleaf toothwort in bud, spring beauty leaves, early meadow rue - in very small bud form, grape fern, skunk cabbage
April 12th - Clear Creek
What started out as a foggy morning, cleared up into a warm sunny day. The trees are still bare except for their flowers. It feels odd, the rest of the world is so bright and green, but the trees still feel like winter.
A walk around Clear Creek (Wooster), more signs of spring are appearing: Giant velvet mite, buds on the purple cress, and a mayapple still wrapped up poking out of the leaves.
April 20th - Killbuck Marsh
Partly sunny 54*
Driving down the hill into the valley I was startled at the sight of a turkey wandering by. After watching for a few minutes it wandered off into the brush.
I parked and made my way up to my observation tree.
In April, so much can happen in a week and a half! The skunk cabbage has leafed out large, the blood root is beginning to bloom, cutleaf toothwort is budding, mayapples emerging, rue anemone blooming, early meadow rue in bud, trillium greens, geranium greens, and spring beauties in flower.
And the birds! So many birds. Swans, Sandhills, pileated, wrens, teals, cormorant, and a turkey vulture in a tree to name a few.
The last image shows a great blue heron standing on what I like to call "beaver island". The beavers have been adjusting the marsh again, and in this popular area they've not only built a new lodge, but a mass as well! Maybe as a water break? Maybe with tunnels? I'm not an expert on beaver behavior, so for now, beaver island it is.
April 26 - Walton Woods
Cooler and cloudier today. An early morning walk at Walton Woods.
Trees are starting to turn green. Blooms are starting to appear - spring beauties, cutler toothwort (a unique purple tinged one?!), mayapple leaves are open, false mermaid is blooming, dutchman's breeches too. I startled some deer, followed them briefly, and found a large patch of Virginia Bluebells!!! The first I've found in the wild in Wayne County! On my way back to the car, a rose breasted grosbeak serenaded me.
April 27 - Bog
The sun was setting, we had a lovely walk, the magnolia warblers were flitting about, it was a good evening. Then as we neared the end of the boardwalk, I look up (as that is the best way to spot warblers) and notice a large figure in the branches - far too large for a warbler - a turkey!
April 29 - Wooster Memorial Park
A truth about observing wildflowers in Wayne County. There are many parks, many natural areas, great wetlands, but hands down Wooster Memorial Park is the richest public park in Wayne County to show off the diverse native plant species.
While I attempted this year to find other hotspots in the county, nothing compares.
In Bloom this trip: bluets, trillium, dutchman's breeches, purple cress, squirrel corn, two leaf miter wort, wild ginger, trout lily, early blue cohosh
Pre bloom: two leaf toothwort, early meadow rue, trout lily
Done blooming: cutler toothwort, hepatica, bloodroot, woodland sedge
While on the upper trail, the barred owl flew along with me for a bit, exploring tree by tree.
Turkey in a Tree
Although it sounds like a lyrical remix to "Turkey in the Straw" I assure you it's not.
No, this was a surprise encounter the other evening as we were leaving Brown's Lake Bog. The sun was setting, we had a lovely walk, the magnolia warblers were flitting about, it was a good evening. Then as we neared the end of the boardwalk, I look up (as that is the best way to spot warblers) and notice a large figure in the branches - far too large for a warbler - a turkey!
During the waking hours turkeys can be found foraging for seeds, insects, and nuts in forests and fields but once the sun goes down, up in the trees they go.
Despite their size, turkeys are impressive flyers with the ability to fly up to 55mph!
Every evening turkeys make their way up to their favorite tree to roost, unless they're nesting, which they do in a scratched out hole on the ground.
Next time you're out at dusk, take a look up in the big old trees, you might find something new.
New flower surprise
Just when you think you know your parks.
Keep exploring, friends!
March 22, 2022
No matter how chilly, it always warms my soul to see the first of the spring wildflowers start to emerge.
As I follow the seasons, in early spring I take heart in knowing there are some special friends getting ready to wake up from their winter naps. This trip I was met with soft beauty, no matter the weather they're there.
This day was cool with sprinkles. Hepatica was the first bloom, thankfully in the same spot it always is. Lots of greens are beginning to emerge too, the shovel-like leaves of the purple cress, ramps showing off their fluorescent colors, waterleaf with it's lovely watery patterns. As an extra special treat, the foliage of the dutchman's breeches is gathering in large bunches.
As April begins, more things will begin to bloom.
A weekly or even a few times a week, walk will reveal a secret emergence if you take the time to slow down and look.
Walk slowly (usually I can do about 1 mi in an hour), look down, stop often, go solo, speak rarely.
If that sounds tedious, consider it a meditation practice. Breathe in the smells of the world waking up.
Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.