Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wednesday Naturalists: Summer Hike II

South Pond

Naturalist, Dave Spier, led today’s nature walk.

Arrived at the Montezuma Audubon Center at 10:15 AM. Several cars in the parking lot. Went inside and registered with Becky, an AmeriCorps volunteer.

Becky had a California Kingsnake wrapped around her left forearm. She said this snake used at the Center for demonstrations was raised in captivity. She mentioned it as extremely gentle. Took her word for it and allowed the snake to remain attached to her arm.

California Kingsnake

After signing the register went into the back work room, there a summer intern was cataloguing pressed flowers that she plans to mount in a book for display in the foyer.

While waiting, took some photos of the Center's foyer and the three turtles in one of the terrariums and observed an ospery through the picture window.


Turtles - squint - they're there

At precisely 10:30 AM Dave assembled the hikers. This group of seven (Brett from Butler, Dave & Dottie from Auburn, Tom from Junius Pond, Carol & Carol from Geneva and me) followed Dave outside through the work room door.

Once outside Dave presented some options. All agreed we should stay in the sun and out of the mosquito-infested woods.

The bull thistle was the first flower that Dave identified. He noted that the gold finches are just starting to consume the seeds from this plant.

Making the turn onto the mowed path there was an abundance of Queen Anne's lace. Commonly called wild carrot, Dave pointed out that Queen Anne's lace is distinguished by a single dark red flower in its center. Carol mentioned that one can make a jam using its root.

Queen Anne's Lace

Coming upon a Honeysuckle bush, led to a discussion on edible berries. Dave recalled a little ditty that helps wilderness survivors cope with dilemma of what berries to eat and which to avoid. Basically, red berries are generally a 50/50 chance, blue and black are OK, but white and yellow no way.

Honeysuckle Bush

Goggling for a berry song found this passage from The Life and Times of Piebald the Mouse by Gordon J. Eaton: “If it’s blue - it’s good for you. If it’s red - use your head. If it’s white - do not bite.”

Honeysuckle Berries

As we turned to walk toward the observation deck a great blue heron glided into the south pond.

Dave pointed out the common evening primrose.



Also Dave plucked a piece of ragweed and passed it around while explaining that goldenrod gets a bad rap for ragweed’s mischief. Evidently mother was wrong. Pulling up all the goldenrod was futile, since ragweed was the culprit behind our hay fever.

While standing near the red oak, Tom noticed an osprey landing on the walkway between the south and north ponds.

Red Oak Tree Trunk

Notice - red tint in the bark crevices

Red Oak Tree Leaf

Red Oak Tree Dead Leaves on Path

Dave took the opportunity to point out the similarities and differences between the osprey and the bald eagle.

At the entrance to the short path through the woods was a member of the Magnolia family, the Tulip Tree.

Tulip Tree

Tulip Tree Leaf

Also on this path was this tree but I did not record its name.

And this was it leaf.

Walking up the ramp to the observation deck, Dottie's Dave drew our attention to a Virginia Creeper. This five-leaved ivy was doing its job well.

Virginia Creeper

While using the observation deck to rest, an osprey flew by and put on a great show. Then a phoebe perched nearby.

Resting on the deck

View from observation deck - North Pond

Upon our return to the Center while admiring a flower garden planted just his year, Brett had us look up. There flying above us were two ospreys. Soaring way up high, the pair of osprey appeared as black dots in the clouds.

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