Friday, November 21, 2014

Farmer's Almanac vs. Wacky Weather Wisdom

The Old Farmer's Almanac, an entertaining booklet which predicts the climate for the coming year, has forecast a colder than normal winter for Ohio. In contrast, many 'traditional' methods of predicting the weather have determined... Well, they have not determined much of anything, but they are still fun to read! 

The Old Farmer's Almanac 
The Almanac's history goes back to 1792. In the 223 years since, they have claimed about an 80% accuracy in predicting the weather. 

Bad news for those who dislike winter, the Old Farmer's Almanac is predicting a colder than normal season, with plenty of ice and snow. It also foresees a white Thanksgiving, with more snow through Christmas, and plenty more until mid March. Remember, "colder than normal" temperatures are really only a 2 to 5 degree difference than ordinary winters.    

Wacky Weather Wisdom, Folklore or Fact?
Traditional methods for predicting the weather have been around for hundreds of years. Some are based on science, while others are not based on much of anything. Let's explore some of these eccentric weather indicators. 

The Caterpillar Knows 
The Woolly Bear caterpillar has the reputation of being able to predict the coming winter.  Woolly Bears have 13 body segments, corresponding to the 13 weeks of winter. The dark brown/black indicates bitter cold with a lot of snow, while the light brown foresees a milder time. 

The above Caterpillar indicates a cold and snowy periods of time at the beginning and end of the season, and moderate weather in between. To date, there has not been any scientific evidence to prove that Woolly Bears can predict winter weather, but watch this winter to see if it is true! 

The New Moon
This legend states, the nearer the New Moon to Christmas Day, the worse the winter. This year, the New moon falls on December 21st, just four days from Christmas. To compare from last year, the closest new moon to Christmas was 7 days away. Even though there is no scientific evidence, this legend helps to back up the unusually cold and snowy winter that the  Farmer's Almanac predicted.  

Find Yourself a Dead Goose

For this method, acquire the breastbone of a (previously) dead goose, good luck. The length of the breastbone indicates the duration of the coming winter, while the color reveals the harshness. A white bone prophesies a mild season, while a darker one foresees cold temperatures and lots of snow. 

If it is early in the winter season, and you cannot find yourself a goose. Instead, watch them fly south. The sooner the geese leave an area, the harsher the winter. If plenty of geese are still "obtainable" in late November, spare a goose because the winter will be a peaceful one.  

Foggy August Mornings
Tradition says, for every foggy August morning, there will be a snowfall in the winter. So, mark your calendar for next year to see if this prediction comes true. Or, if you are not a morning person, count the number of days from the first snowfall until Christmas. The number of days will indicate the number of snowfalls to expect. At Wahkeena, our first snowfall was November 14th, showing that we will have 41 snowfalls this coming winter.  Like all of the others, there is no scientific evidence to  date that help to back up this theory. 

There are many other ways of predicting winter weather, do you have any of your own? Have you had luck with any of the legends listed above? 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Don't Fear...

Not to worry, the Wahkeena blog will live on! 

Wahkeena blog followers, do not worry, the blog will continue to be updated regularly throughout the coming winter months and into our next season. Look out for some new features that will help to keep you up to date on all the happenings here at Wahkeena. 

To help you get in the mood for Halloween, here are some spooky critters found here at Wahkeena that people typically find scary.

Barred Owl

Strix varia
"Whooo-Who-Cooks-For-You, Who-Cooks-For-You-All" is the typical call of the Barred Owl. This type of Owl is one of the most common types of Owls in Ohio, and can be found in all 88 counties. They eat many types of small animals including mice, chipmunks, squirrels, birds, reptiles and amphibians. 

The Barred Owl pictured above is our resident, education Owl. We have her here at Wahkeena because she was struck by a car, lost sight in one eye, and might have difficulties surviving in the wild. 

Marbled Orbweaver

Araneus marmoreus
Marbled Orbweavers are among our showiest spiders. Early in the summer, as juveniles, the spider is a pale yellow that darkens to a bright yellow with a black marbled pattern throughout the season. Around Halloween, the yellow on their abdomen becomes bright orange, often resembling a jack-o-lantern. 

Marbled Orbweavers feed at night, and are often hidden away during the day in a folded leaf retreat. 

Black Rat Snake 

Pantherophis alleghaniensis

Also known as an Eastern Ratsnake, this is Ohio's largest snakes, often exceeding 6 feet in length. The above snake is a juvenile Black Rat Snake, as the snake grows its bold patterns fade, and its color becomes darker. The bottom picture is of our educational Black Rat Snake, who turned 25 years old earlier this month. 

Have a Happy Halloween everyone! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Happy Trails

As many of you know by now, I am no longer at Wahkeena. While I miss Wahkeena greatly, I am having lots of new adventures, and learning lots of new things. I will especially miss sharing Wahkeena happenings with you over this blog, and also seeing you all visiting the preserve! While I do not know what the future of this blog will be, keep checking in. We have 6 years worth of stories and photos to keep us going through the often dreary months of winter. To close, I leave you with the very appropriate lyrics to Roger Dale Evan's song, Happy Trails. Happy trails everyone!

Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we're together?
Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you, 'till we meet again.

Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.
It's the way you ride the trail that counts,
Here's a happy one for you.

Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we're together?
Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.

Happy trails to you, 'till we meet again.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Favorite Photos Part 2

Hope you enjoyed Part I of my favorite photos! Here is Part 2. This is a combination of the Summer and Fall seasons.

 Adder's Mouth Orchid

 a foggy Lake Odonata


 Monarch butterfly on Purple Coneflower

 Orange Coneflower


 Lake Odonata in summer

Monarch butterfly on asters


 Tiger Swallowtail butterfly

 another Tiger Swallowtail butterfly

 a skipper on Obedient Plant

 a Bowl and Doily spiderweb

 Cardinal Flower

 grasshopper on Purple Coneflower


 Turbulent Phosphila caterpillars

 early fall at Lake Odonata

 pink Swamp Rose Mallow

 Halictid Bee on Orange Milkweed

 Golden Ragwort and Wild Blue Phlox

 Autumn Coralroot

 Skimming Bluet damselfly

 Aphrodite Frittillary butterfly on Monarda

 Club-spur Orchid


 Weevil on Cranefly Orchid

 red Swamp Rose Mallow

Silvery Checkerspot butterfly

 Twayblade Orchid

 Great Laurel Rhododendron

 Silvery Checkerspot butterfly

Climbing Rose

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Favorite Photos Part 1

As we come to the end of year six of the blog, I thought we'd have a bit of a photo review. I have a lot of favorite photos, some of which have been seen on the blog before. Since there are so many, there will be a couple of installments of this. We'll go by season, so first up is Spring! 

 Rue Anemone

 Wild Bleeding Heart

Giant Blue Cohosh

Blister Beetle

 Canada Violet

 Dwarf Crested Iris

 Harvester Butterfly

 Rue Anemone

 Shelter Trail with Crab Apple and Redbud


 Smokehouse with Flame Azalea

 Yellow Iris

 a Pink Azalea

 a Really Big Snapping Turtle 

 a native bee on Snowdrops

 Marsh Marigold


 Foam Flower

 Puttyroot Orchid (above and below)

 Wild Geranium


 Indian Cucumber Root


Pink Crabapple

 Garter Snake

 Pink Lady's Slipper

 Showy Orchis

 a Snail

 Three-lobed Violet

Large-flowered Trillium