Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Day Out With Botany Nerds

Mostly I bird -- but I also enjoy hanging out with "botany nerds".  Their obsession with plants and inclination to ask questions and focus on details feels comfortable!!
Tuesday, I joined a group of ONAPA members for a trip to a Northwest Ohio.

Our first stop was at the Castalia Prairie in the Resthaven Wildlife Area west of Castalia, Ohio!
This 60 acre prairie is commonly regarded as one of the best prairie remnants in the state harboring a number of rare plant species.  It was burned over this spring for the first time in several years -- if you aren't familiar with prairie management, a burn is good.  It knocks back woody species and maintains the open health of the habitat.
It was immediately obvious that the wildflowers in bloom were nothing with which I am familiar (no prairies on my side of the state).
The Star-Flowered Solomon's Seal was new to me and a charming little plant!
This was our main quarry -- the Showy White Lady Slipper orchid!  They were obviously enjoying the after burn of the prairie!
I was delighted to also spot a Yellow-breasted Chat!!
(That's a bird.)
Look how small this orchid is!?! 
This is a hybrid that also occurs in small numbers as a result of a population in the near-by woods of a yellow lady's slipper.  It is identified by it's maroon upper petals.
Then we were off for the ferry to Kelley's Island.  There are a number of islands in the western Lake Erie basin and Kelley's is the largest at just around 4 square miles.  It has been inhabited since the early 1800's and was the site of several quarrying operations and some winemaking. 
Today, the main attraction is relaxing and visiting one of the best preserved glacial grooves in the world. 
My first visit to the island was 1963 with my birding mentor, Gretta.  We rented bikes for the day and rode around the island birding (first orchard oriole sighting of my life) and visiting the sights.
Since then, there have been many trips to share a pleasant day with friends or family.
Basically, the island is a huge hunk of limestone (thus all the quarrying).
Unbeknownst to many in Ohio, a group of botanists have been working since 1989 to establish a viable population of the Lakeside Daisy to protect it from extinction as it is threatened on the mainland by development and quarrying. 
This is an old quarry site littered with limestone gravel and stone.
At first, you wonder "what's all the fuss about?"
Then you look down and see this plant thriving in what appears to be a completely inhospitable habitat.
There are now thousands of plants spread over 4 sights on the island and they are spreading outside the protected locations -- a good sign! 
It was exciting to see a success story!
So often, attempts to preserve a habitat or a species are thwarted on every side, but these tough little flowers have responded to the attention of a devoted group of botanists and their efforts are inspiring -- both the plants and the botanists!!
There is an accessible daisy preserve on the mainland in Marblehead, Ohio!  Even after the daisies have finished blooming, there are other uncommon and interesting plants to be seen such as Stiff Goldenrod and Dense Blazing Star.

Today, I'm staying home -- a little tidying up, some grocery shopping, blocking a quilt, some weeding in the gardens -- but it's back to the woods tomorrow for more birding!!
I just love spring!!


1 comment:

  1. Wow, the lady slipper orchids are just awesome! I've seen the glacial grooves, what a sight to behold- but never had a clue about Lakeside Daisies being introduced. What an exciting field trip!!