Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Hey...what's that white stuff?


The predicted 1-2 inch snow has become 5 inches and counting. This morning saw white-out conditions with visibility at a couple of feet!


The Hemlocks and Yews  are bending down under the weight of the moist snow.


The old guest cabin looks like an inviting place to escape the elements.


Near the rock spring, icicles formed as a results of the rains and cold that preceded the recent snow.

Enjoy the snow everyone!



Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Day in the Life...Part 52

It is December 31, 2015 and we have come almost full circle. The picture below first appeared in Part 1 and shows Lake Odonata completely frozen over as we began 2015. At home the wood stove had been burning non-stop for over a month. This year...four days!


Quite a different winter to say the least. Lake Odonata below has had only a little thin ice at the edges and that melted quickly.. The open warm water has allowed Kingfishers, Blue Herons and Canada Geese to be frequent visitors.



The open water has also allowed the beavers to continue their wood cutting ways. The Red Maple below is the latest casualty. This tree is just off the board walk trail. 


The mild weather has been a blessing and a curse at the same time. Because the ground has not frozen, invasive plant removal is still possible. (That's also the curse!)


The woods are now dotted with piles of winged euonymus that have been pulled by hand. In the picture below you can see an unpicked area that is dominated by a dense stand of young sprouts.


Once an area is picked a dramatic open forest floor reappears revealing such things as moss covered logs, ferns and wildflowers leaves.


Many of the old logs are covered with a common type of moss - Thuidium delicatulum.


A closer examination reveals the common name of the plant - Fern Moss. As you can see below the moss looks like an entangled mass of miniature ferns.


In a wet seep near where I was picking today, the basal leaves of Golden Ragwort are very abundant. These leaves would persist even below a snow cover...if that ever happens!


And so we come to the end of this year long post. A glimpse inside this little corner of the world known as Wahkeena Nature Preserve. Many changes have occurred along the way and many more will come. New perspectives lay just around the corner. Taking a break from euonymus pulling, I looked up and viewed the exact corner of the White Pine forest nearby...what discoveries are just around that corner......?


Thanks for following this blog. New features are coming in 2016, so stay tuned for those.

Happy New Year to all the Earth lovers out there. 












Monday, December 21, 2015

A Carmen Warner's Christmas

Dr. Frank Warner and Carmen Hambleton Warner

Twelve Days of ChristmasThe Wahkeena Version


On the first day of Christmas 
my true love gave to me:
an old farm in Fairfield County

The land and house that would later become Wahkeena, circa 1930
On the second day of Christmas 
my true love gave to me:
two burros 
and an old farm in Fairfield County

Jennie and Ike
On the third day of Christmas
my true love gave to me:
three peacocks strutting
two burros 
and an old farm in Fairfield County


On the fourth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me:
four hooting owls
three peacocks strutting
two burros 
and an old farm in Fairfield County

Eastern Screech Owl- Photo by Rich Pendlebury
On the fifth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me:
five golden crowned kinglets
four hooting owls
three peacocks strutting
two burros 
and an old farm in Fairfield County

Golden Crowned Kinglet- Photo by Rich Pendlebury
On the sixth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me:
six geese a pooping
five golden crowned kinglets
four hooting owls
three peacocks strutting
two burros 
and an old farm in Fairfield County

Carmen Warner and her Canada Geese
 On the seventh day of Christmas
my true love gave to me:
seven mallards swimming
six geese a pooping
five golden crowned kinglets
four hooting owls
three peacocks strutting
two burros 
and an old farm in Fairfield County

Historic Wahkeena mallards
On the eighth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me:
eight bunnies bouncing
seven mallards swimming
six geese a pooping
five golden crowned kinglets
four hooting owls
three peacocks strutting
two burros 
and an old farm in Fairfield County


 On the ninth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me:
nine ladies lounging
 eight bunnies bouncing
seven mallards swimming
six geese a pooping
five golden crowned kinglets
four hooting owls
three peacocks strutting
two burros 
and an old farm in Fairfield County

Garden club meeting at Wahkeena 
 On the tenth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me:
ten deer a leaping
nine ladies lounging
 eight bunnies bouncing
seven mallards swimming
six geese a pooping
five golden crowned kinglets
four hooting owls
three peacocks strutting
two burros 
and an old farm in Fairfield County


 On the eleventh day of Christmas
my true love gave to me:
eleven beavers chewing
ten deer a leaping
nine ladies lounging
 eight bunnies bouncing
seven mallards swimming
six geese a pooping
five golden crowned kinglets
four hooting owls
three peacocks strutting
two burros 
and an old farm in Fairfield County



 On the twelth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me:
twelve native orchids
eleven beavers chewing
ten deer a leaping
nine ladies lounging
 eight bunnies bouncing
seven mallards swimming
six geese a pooping
five golden crowned kinglets
four hooting owls
three peacocks strutting
two burros 
and an old farm in Fairfield County

Pink Lady's Slipper
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Wahkeena!

-Nora & Tom

Also, don't forget to sign up for Wahkeena's new monthly email newsletter we are starting in the new year. Follow the link below to sign up:

http://eepurl.com/bH_UeP

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Day in the Life...Part 51

Winter came back this week with cold and snow flurries. Saturday night two Great Horned owls were really hooting it up in the pine woods just a short distance from the nature center. It's the beginning of their mating season again.

On Thursday, Nora and I made a pilgrimage of sorts to Chillicothe, Ohio. The purpose of our trip was to visit the final resting place of our founders.



A top a hill near downtown Chillicothe is the aptly named Granview Cemetery. From the top one commands a far reaching view of the surrounding landscape. Centrally located in the cemetery is a simple granite marker.


One one side are the names of Dr. Frank Warner's parents and who we assume are three sisters. A curious note below his father's name reads "Buried in Swanton, Vt."


On the reverse side one finds the names of Dr. Frank Warner and Carmen Hambleton.

Below Dr. Warner the words read: " Died in Columbus ,Ohio. After A Distinguished Career Devoted to Medicine, Surgery and The Cultural Interests of His Coummunity."

No such epitaph appears below Carmen. But in a way that seems fitting. As we were walking away, Nora asked what I thought at the time was an unusual question. "Do you feel her here?" I stopped in my tracks and looked back at the marker and said, " That right she's right over there." Nora replied, "But I don't feel her here...do you?"  No, I did not. It was an odd moment. At that instant the revelation came...Carmen was not here. But we both knew where she was...is. At her beloved Wahkeena. 



Although the average visitor might not realize it. Wahkeena is Carmen and Carmen is Wahkeena. What better tribute to a gracious lady who has made this world a more beautiful place for creatures great and small.



Posted by TS

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Day in the Life...Part 50

Well, as I stated in the last post lots of time spent pulling invasive euonymus, but also taking advantage of the good weather to do needed home repairs. Yesterday afternoon, while walking back from a euonymus pick Nora spotted something in the pond. But was it a turtle or just a log sticking out of the water? We were pretty sure it was a turtle, but wanted to confirm that. So I headed back to the nature center to grab my waders. ( I really wanted to go all Crocodile Hunter, but I had some good boots on!) Meanwhile, Nora waited with her trusty iphone to document the adventure.


I grab a hiking stick on extra support and stated out towards the object. As I got closer, I could see that it was indeed a large Snapping Turtle...but he had turned around and was now facing me! So I had to navigate my way around behind him, which is not that easy to do in a mucky pond bottom.


By the time I got to turtle he had submerged but was still visible just below the surface of the water. Next I reached down to find its tail and pulled the HUGH thing out.


As one might imagine, this did not make the ol' snappy very happy!!
This turtle was estimated at 18" across the top of the shell from front to back and felt like it must have weighted 35-40 pounds.


In the picture below, you can see the much smaller plastron (bottom shell) and the large tail, which makes a convenient handle!  


Having satisfied our curiosity, the turtle was safely returned to the pond where he disappeared out of sight.

This sighting illustrates just how mild the recent weather has been and this large cold blooded reptile was just taking advantage of the warm shallow waters.


Posted by TS




Saturday, December 5, 2015

A Day in the Life...Part 48... and 49

OK, so there is/was no Part 48.  What happened? Oh, the usual... Thanksgiving holiday festivities, home repairs, backed up sewer line at work....you know the usual.

Meanwhile back at the preserve....



It's December 5, 2015 and a very hazy morning.



A dense fog hangs in the woods limiting visibility.



As the fog began to lift, the stillness of the pond revealed itself. Long gone are the Wood Ducks that nested in the box (left of center) and the water lilies that have decayed and settled to the bottom of the pond.


Gone too are the crowds of human visitors to the preserve. 2015 was a banner year as we had over 4600 visitors- a new record.



We have started feeding the birds, but they have been slow to come to the feeders in large numbers. No doubt due to the mild weather.


One critter taking advantage of the "free" food right now is this Gray Squirrel...and he has lots of friends!
The "free food" is again  thanks to our amazing support group - The Ohio Association of Garden Clubs and the OAGC Foundation. 


Another animal staying active is...of course...the beaver. The Elm tree above is the latest casualty.


The once delicate Maidenhair fern (above) is now a brown matted mass on the forest floor. But the Marginal Wood fern below is evergreen and still in reasonably good condition.


And there is still some autumn color to be found, like in the azalea below, which is on the terrace just behind the nature center.


The coming week promises to be a fun filled time of pulling invasive euonymus and who knows what else.........................



Posted by TS



Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Day in the Life...Part 47


It's been another pretty quiet week around the nature center...



and back in along the wooded trails of the preserve.


The forest floor is dominated now by the dark evergreen Christmas Fern.


Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) is by far the most common fern in the area. The name implies the past use of this plant as a Christmas decoration.


Others parts of the forest floor are covered with another evergreen -  Southern Ground Cedar  (Diphasiastrum digitatum). The yellow structures are called strobili- this is where the reproductive spores are produced. If you give them a tap, you will release a "cloud" of light yellow spores when they are mature.


A plant I have mentioned before, but always nice to see in the now barren landscape, is the Downy Rattlesnake Plantain- a common evergreen orchid.


The not so green thing above is an oak apple gall. The gall was formed when a wasp laid her egg in an oak leave and the oak responded to the "invasion" by creating the gall. The gall provides a safe environment for the developing wasp larva to grow in. The small hole is an indication that the former occupant (the wasp) has" left the building."


In preparing for this post the first snow of November 2015 began to fall. The somewhat granular crystals began to accumulated on cold surfaces- like the American Holly leaves above. 


By the time I got back to the nature center the snow had frosted the roof and with frosty fingers it was time to head inside and enjoy the warm geothermal heat!

Happy Thanksgiving to all who follow this post. I am truly thankful that I get to experience the beauty and wonders of this special place. 

Posted by TS