Tomorrow is New Year's Eve, it's remarkable how much one forgets through the year, going through the archives I wrote much more than I realized and not at all about what I thought I had - that memory thing is quite the illusive beast (one of the many reasons I take so many photos).
Starting in January we learned about lichens and backyard birding - with bird profiles for all the backyard birds I could find.
Traveling through time to early signs of spring, spring wildflowers, first bloom reports, phenology at Barnes preserve.
Leading into summer, summer dreams, flowers (I didn't write about my garden on here, that was mostly instagram I suppose), finished the one year study at Barnes Preserve (the last one I had going... it was super interesting - all of the studies - but I don't know about starting new ones, on one hand it's a great way to see and observe and dedicate yourself to getting outside at least once a month, on the other hand who knows what this year will bring, will we move, will we stay - okay I guess that's invalid as we can always visit once a month if we do move. Okay okay okay).
Into fall flowers and folklore (I just received the best present pertaining to this, more along this line to come - thanks uncle Mark!).
Calendar fundraiser raised lots of fun and funds for the local parks (thank you all!). December is now moving into January and the next few days will be spent in reflection, in dreaming, and in goal setting for the new year. What do I want to accomplish, how will I do so, how to be the best version of my self, and so on.
I will say (and this is not sponsored content or anything like that) the Wilderness Center has some really amazing programs coming up this year including one on keeping nature notes, meeting (about) once a month either at Barnes Preserve or at The Wilderness Center (your choice), I am so excited about this (and should probably reserve my spot) learn more about that HERE (<--OAKS 2019 program) or go to www.wildernesscenter.org for their other offerings.
Anyway, here are some screenshots of the highlights from this past year, don't forget to check out the Archives for great content from the past!
I wish you all the best year to come, I hope 2019 sees you in good health, lots of time in nature, with good friends, and prosperity in all aspects of your life.
Happy hiking, I appreciate you all! <3
Before we get to the recap of the year, let's look back over this past month. With as warm as it's been the past couple of days it's hard to believe it's winter!
With a hardy snow at the beginning of the month, dwindling into dreary rainy days, followed by some warmer mild days, I'm inclined to suggest August's weather predictions for the winter were correct (mild winter ahead for those who forget). But it's only just begun, let's keep that on the back burner until spring! For now, check out the slideshows below for some observations from this month, and stay tuned for a year long recap.
Bog & Force Rd
New signage at the Bog with some great informational kiosks. Cold winds and dreary skies create dramatic scenes in the Kilbuck Marsh Wildlife Area.
Snowy days in Johnson Woods show off the magnificence of the old trees.
Wooster Memorial Park Group Hike
Friends of Wooster Memorial Park put of great monthly hikes. Some are informal group hikes, others are educational, all are fun. On this hike we learned about the Eastern Hemlock trees which grow in the park and were surprised when a barred owl joined in! Never know what you'll see out in the woods. (Hikes & events can be found on the Friends of Wooster Memorial Park facebook page)
There is a new trail at Barnes Preserve leading down to the ponds in the far field!
There's lots to see in the winter - the seeds, pods, and berries left on the leafless plants and bushes bring a whole new perspective to familiar plants.
Also - check out that poison ivy "tree"!!
Sometimes in your own backyard the most amazing wildlife can be found. Keep an eye out or you might miss it!
Barred owl & Sharp shinned hawk(photo by Noah).
Hold onto your seat as we explore all the Smilaxes of Ohio to be able to identify this particular species!
Smilax - genus of greenbriar, catbriars, sasparilla (let's call the whole thing off).
It always amazes me when out of nowhere I see a 'new' plant on familiar trails. I'm sure it's been there all along, sometimes the eyes just seek the familiar and block out the unknown. On this sunny snowy day I found a short, kind of stubby gathering of green in the woods. Recently I became aware of the unique parallel veining in the smilax leaves, so noting that on this plant I did a happy dance (I tend to do that when identifying new species to me in the wild)! When arriving home to put a name to the plant I became overwhelmed, much like the goldenrods and asters, there's many many many different species - 20 native to north america, 300+ to the tropics & subtropics worldwide -oof!
Through the various species the shape, growth, flowers, and berries vary so significantly it's hard to believe they're related so (but then again we all have family members like that right?).
But for today, let's narrow down this seemingly evergreen variety shown here with its very bristly vine/stalk/stem.
USDA has 26 defined native Smilax species (check out the location maps here).
Out of those 26, 9 are marked as found in Ohio:
Smilax bona-nox saw greenbrier - prickly vine with smooth upper stems, triangular/ovate leaves, very prickly lower leaves
Smilax ecirrhata upright carrionflower - smooth herbaceous central stem growing 1 - 3' tall.
Smilax glauca cat greenbrier - Iiana (new term to me) meaning it is a woody plant with vine-like growth form (woody but can't support itself). Has a simple leaf blade with one leaf per node along the stem. No teeth on lobes. Bristly spine. (looking like a match) BUT leaves drop off in the winter.
Smilax herbacea smooth carrionflower - viny but smooth stem - cool clusters of green flowers that smell like carrion - pollinated mainly by flies - round clumps of round blue/purple fruits then grow.
Smilax illinoensis Illinois greenbrier - qualities are that of a possible hybridization of the upright carrion flower and the smooth carrion flower (still not the drones we are looking for (anyone else find these quips amusing? I do :) ))
Smilax lasioneura Blue Ridge carrionflower - Threatened species in Ohio - has tendrils where the other carrionflowers don't.
Smilax pulverulenta downy carrionflower - Endangered species in Ohio - absent prickles
Smilax rotundifolia roundleaf greenbrier - tendency to become quite weedy in the northeast (can create vines up to 20 ft) leaf shape and veining are correct but the vine has thorns instead of bristles.
Smilax tamnoides bristly greenbrier - Woody vine growing to 10 - 20 ft long. Ovate leaves with parallel veining. Stems covered in stiff bristles. ***We have our winner***
The Smilax genus is divided into two similar but separate groups - woody vines with thorns and herbaceous vines/shrubs with no spines.
The bristly greenbrier is a good example of the first group (woody vine with thorns). The various carrion flowers are good examples of the second (herbaceous with no thorns)
Totally unintentional having the winning species be the very last on the list but it makes for a good read through!
Friends, I'm totally blown away by how much you all love the parks here in Wayne County (although who can blame you, they're great!)!
With just a few calendars left to be picked up I think it's safe to tally up the final numbers....
Thanks to you, we have raised a grand total of $511 to be donated to the various parks of Wayne County (based on which calendar was purchased)!!!!
56 individual calendars have made it to homes across the country and even a few over seas!
And I got to meet a number of you in person <3 It's great meeting you all!
I'm calling it a huge success, and if you're all interested, I may do this again next year.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Various explorations, notes, and photos from the past few weeks.
When was the last time you were out to Shreve Lake? Never? When it still had water? Recently?
For me, it's been many many years, and once they drained the lake (due to a breeching dam issue) I passed on it all together. Upon reading the news that there is finally the funding - and it is a priority - to fix the issue and allow the lake to fill back up, I had to get out there for some 'before' photos although they're not going to start work until 2021. Even though it's winter, you can see how the plantlife has reclaimed the muddy former bottom of the lake, and a stand of trees are growing just beyond the dock - also docks on dry land just look so sad.
Since the draining, there have been reports of it becoming a great birding spot - I myself have seen a bald eagle flying overhead when driving by last year.
I may have to visit this spot more often to observe just how the area changes while dried up (through the seasons) and compare it in years to come with when filled.
Hoping for the sound of sandhill cranes I ventured down W.Rd. the recent rains/snow/ice left clayplant underwater - the blue herons were pretty happy. Further down W. four bald eagles were out in a field, the Canada geese flew down in a cloud of sound. No Sandys this day.
Brown's Lake Bog
Have you been recently? I hate to admit, I have not. What a great surprise though, upon arrival there's a new sign - informational kiosks - and yours truly has their name and photos on said kiosks!! :D
It was a nice trek out except for the few yokels up on the kame shouting and carrying on. Out on the floating sphagnum mat there has been quite a bit of work done removing the poison sumac and beating back the plant succession. Every few years this is done, and every following growing season the plants unique to the bog take full advantage of the extra sun!
Thank you The Nature Conservancy and all the volunteers!!
Cold, dark, cloudy days don't seem like they'd be good for going outdoors, but for dynamic clouds and emotional scenes they're the best!
Out exploring and still looking for those cranes we end at the dead end of Force Rd. Some large machines sit to the side and a raised platform covers the old iron bridge (it's iron right?). The path continues on, where it had been overgrown and ended (this is not an admission to past explorations). What is happening? I can't be sure. But my sense point to creating a birder friendly area... We'll have to wait and see.
What do two naturalists who have no plans do on a crisp, sunny, weekday? Go explore of corse!
Johnson Woods, being such a treasure as one of the remaining old growth forests in the area, is one of my favorite winter spots - without the leaves, the true magnitude of these trees is amplified, one becomes humbled in the presence of such giants who have seen this country founded.
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.