Saturday, April 28, 2012

Are we done? (plus an orchid update)

This is the question I've been asking myself the past few days. I've put off writing this new post because I couldn't think of anything else new that had bloomed! I've had to look back as the previous years' posts to see what else is to come. The answer is, well, not much else that is really showy.

Typically, we call the month of June the month of green and white. This is because many of our flowering shrubs burst forth with white blossoms. It's really looking like May is going to be "green and white" this year.

Now, having said all that, there is still a lot of color out in the woods right now. We still have lots of orchids to come (more on that later), and a few more showy colorful things that will bloom soon.

Right now, the azaleas are putting on a great show. The Flame Azaleas are just starting to open up their bright fiery orange flowers. Next week will be the time to see them. The Pinxter Azalea and the cultivated ones continue to be in bloom and are beautiful. Also, the cultivated rhododendron is also just starting to bloom. These large magenta flowers are always a treat to see.

We also have to look forward to are the dwarf crested iris, yellow iris, mountain laural, spiderwort, and some of the hawkweeds. Once the spring wildflowers in the woods are done, there are several other neat plants that bloom. They usually bloom more towards the summer, and their look is a little more subtle than their early spring counterparts, but they are neat nonetheless. A few examples would be enchanter's nightshade, lopseed, and black cohosh.

Okay, onto the subject you have all been waiting for! (I know, I've seen how many times last year's update on PLS was accessed just in the past week!)

The PINK LADY SLIPPER. It is in fact, in bloom. However - there is only one you can view on your own from the trail. This one is just up, and not pink quite yet. There are others that can be seen when on a guided Wildflower Walk. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the dates for the next walks.

Alright! That's all for now, bird activity continues to be very good, and with the warmer weather coming up for next week, we should be seeing some new flowers and butterflies and dragonflies and ferns and.....

Monday, April 23, 2012

Warbler Update 4/23/2012

Hi, Tom reporting.   Saw Blue-gray gnatcatcher back along Casa Burro trail this morning and heard Ovenbird and in the bird feeder by nature center saw Rose-breasted grosbeck!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Flower update

Here are a few more wildflowers, etc. in bloom:

Japanese Primrose
Crabapple (a few more trees are just now blooming)
Yellow Buckeye

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Too much fun at work

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job? Today, Tim and I went out in the boat to replace one of the lids on the wood duck boxes, and while we were out there, we checked on a few other things. There indeed two Wood Ducks nesting in the boxes. I hope they each have a lot of eggs.

Additionally, we saw several northern water snakes. There is a very common myth that water moccasins live in Ohio, but that is simply not true. Any snake can go in the water, but the northern water snake really likes water-y habitats. They are somewhat variable in color and can be seen with or without their pattern. Here is a pic of one Snapper John caught during his internship here.

We also saw some bluebirds hanging out at a snag. From our perspective, we could not determine whether or not there was a cavity. Once we were back on land, Tim walked over and sure enough there is a perfect sized hole for bluebirds. We'll be keeping our eye on it.

Now, the really exciting thing is that we found where the mallard is nesting!! There is just a small hummock of "land" rising up out of the water, and hunkered down on her eggs is the female mallard. She is very well camouflaged on her nest. Here is a picture taken from the shore, can you see her?

Okay, on to the all important list of flowers:

Wood Betony
Blue Cohosh (see one of us naturalists if you want to see this one - we'll give you directions)
Lilly of the Valley (cultivated)
Sweet Woodruff (cultivated)
Sweet Cicely and Aniseroot
Solomon's Seal
Solomon's Plume
Mountain Azalea
Azalea (cultivated)

Friday, April 13, 2012

When will it bloom?

Ah, a common question we get, especially in the spring. The answer is usually fairly elusive. It's been really hard to answer this year. There are things blooming that usually wouldn't until next month, and other things that seem to be right on time. Then there are some unusual things you wouldn't normally see at the same time. For example, today you could admire some Daffodil blooms then go a check out some Firepink! Crazy!

The real burning question for lots of folks this time of year is: When will the orchids bloom? The first to bloom will be the Showy Orchis followed by the Pink Lady Slipper, then Puttyroot and Twayblade. These will encompass the spring season. Luck for you, the Showy Orchis is just now starting to bloom. Unless we get some super hot temps. you should have plenty of time to see this guy. If you come out this weekend, it will be pretty new and on most of the plants, I think the blooms might not be quite full.

PLS leaves are up, and there are lots of new flowers in bloom. The cooler temps have also preserved and slowed things down for some of the others that have already bloomed. The Wild Blue Phlox looks spectacular this year, and its counterpart, Creeping Phlox is also very nice. I also feel like there is much more in the way of blooming trilliums, especially along the Casa Burro trail.

Well, I'll leave you with the new list, and hope to see you out here sometime soon!

Red Trillium
Foam Flower
Greek Valerian
Bishop's Cap
Strawberry bush Calacanthus floridus
Dog Violet
Northern White Violet
Violet Wood Sorrel
Showy Orchis

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Thought from The Wah

Hello everyone! This is Tim, Wahkeena's Spring intern. I am not Robyn.

"I brake for teachable moments." That's what the bumper sticker on my car says. Any chance I get to entice curiosity and facilitate discovery, I take it. If you ask about something in the nature center, you're almost guaranteed to hear from me, "What do you think?" So this morning when a child asked me what was in the aquarium, I responded with "What do you think they are?"

I didn't expect to hear "snake-fish", but after she said it, I looked back in to the tank and understood her guess: small wriggly animals living in water. Makes sense when you're seven and have never seen tadpoles and don't know what a toad is. So we used our skills of observation and other resources at hand to learn something new.

First we compared snakes and fish: Both have scales, two eyes, no legs. Basic observations. But when I asked her how they breathe, we discovered the difference between gills and lungs and which animals use which.

When I told her that the animals in the tank would lose their gills and develop lungs, her eyes got wide with wonder, then scrunchy and perplexed. These animals weren't snakes OR fish. What could they be?

Enter the Golden Guide to Frogs & Toads, stage right, with an encore performance. It told us about a whole new kind of animal that absorbed certain parts, grew others, and had multiple stages of life in different environments.

Discovery, curiosity, and excitement are the foundations of my work, whatever I may be doing. Today, a light of excitement turned on in a little girls eyes that I can only hope will stay lit for many years to come, illuminating every path of her life.

I'm sure there's something here that can turn that light on for you too. What do you think?