This past weekend, my family and I went on a whirlwind Ohio roadtrip. The trip was initiated by my desire to go see a swamp metalmark at a natural area called Cedar Bog. Our trip would continue with a stop in Columbus and another stop at Shawnee State Park. Sadly, this particular trip was a little bit of a dud - it rained almost constantly while we were at Shawnee.
Cedar Bog (its actually a Fen) was really nice. Just the plants in the parking lot alone were so beautiful, it almost justified the duration of the drive to get there. There was a small visitor center, and after paying a modest fee to go in, I noticed on the photocopied map that there was an X and some directions written in handwriting to the location of a Purple Fringed Orchid. Grass pink Orchids were still blooming in the Fen area which was really nice to see as well.
Cedar Bog was good for birding as well, but the most noteworthy bird was a Carolina Wren, which was singing its distinct four-part "Fee-Bay-Fee-Bee" song. You might be wondering --- did I find my target butterfly species - the Swamp Metalmark? No. I met up with a local lepidopterist as I was leaving and he hinted that my target butterfly has sadly been extirpated for the last 7-8 years.
At Shawnee State Park, it rained for two straight days. Shawnee is a huge forest, 60,000 -70,000 acres of protected area. Just like my first trip there two years ago, it was almost pointless to see butterflies. Oddly though, there were a few nice nature sightings. While driving around, I heard Prairie Warblers singing near a recently clear cut area. A Louisiana Waterthrush was a cool find, as it was on the road (perhaps picking worms out of the puddles) as I was driving at one point. Other breeding warblers at Shawnee include Kentucky, Chats, Worm eating, Cerulean, Yellow throated and more. Yellow fringed Orchid is reputed to be in some of the powerline clearings of the park but... did I mention the rain?
On our last morning of our trip, an employee at the Shawnee Nature Center suggested that I check out the Edge of Appalachia nature reserve, and specifically the- Lynx Prairie. This 18,000 acre natural area is almost adjacent to Shawnee and is privately owned by the Nature Conservancy. Of course , on the day that we were leaving, the sun broke out a little and we enjoyed a nice hike through a forest and prairie habitat. Upon arrival, just the parking lot alone revealed some nice butterflies - Several Pipevine Swallowtails and several Variegated Fritillaries among others. The prairie areas were a little quiet with a single worn Zebra Swallowtail, a single Banded Haistreak and two Juniper Hairstreaks. Whorled Milkweed and what I think is Scaly Blazingstar are two new botanical lifers.
|Seeing this in the Lynx Prairie might have been the nature viewing highlight of my trip.|
Its good to be back home though. I have been buried in home renovation projects and they have kept me from birding an botanizing as much as I would have liked to. Still, I've made some noteworthy sightings in my limited walks and I will leave that for the topic of my next posting.