Basic Fern Identification

For some time I had been wanting to learn more about ferns, so I took advantage of a workshop on fern identification being held at the Wahkeena Nature Preserve in Fairfield County, Ohio. Wahkeena is a great place to learn about ferns since 29 species of fern grow there (Wahkeena's official blog publishes a list of their local fern species). Naturalist Tom Shisler led the workshop which is called Focus on Ferns. In this post I'm going to introduce you to a number of common ferns found in Ohio by Read more ➜

Attending Our First “Mothing” Event

When people go out looking for birds, they are birding, while those who are looking for moths are mothing. More amusingly, those who engage in mothing are called mothers; however, the word is often hyphenated as moth-ers to highlight its different meaning and pronunciation. When we were invited to attend a private mothing event at the Wahkeena Nature Preserve, we decided to give it a try. We really weren't sure how to go about it or what to expect, but Robyn and Tom of the preserve, as well as Read more ➜

Dragonfly Photo Safari

There are lots of reasons to like dragonflies. A great reason to like them is that they are voracious eaters of mosquitoes. Another is that they are one of the most skillful fliers in the animal kingdom: with their two pairs of parallel wings, they can hover or fly in any direction, even backwards or side-to-side. Dragonflies are also one of the fastest flying insects; they reach speeds up to 34 mph (a famous entomologist, Robert John Tillyard, claims to have observed one dragonfly flying at 60 mph). Read more ➜

Rhododendron Maximum in Bloom

Below are the blossoms of Rhododendron Maximum (also known as Great Rhododendron, Rosebay Rhododendron, American Rhododendron, Big Rhododendron, Bigleaf Laurel, Deertongue Laurel, Great Laurel, White Laurel, Rose Tree, or Rose bay). It is a shrub that is native to a few counties in southeast Ohio. In particular, it is found at two adjacent nature preserves: Rhododendron Cove and Wahkeena. We visited both to see it in bloom. At Rhododendron Cove only a few of the shrubs were beginning Read more ➜

Beginning of the amphibian life cycle

After a walk at Wahkeena Nature Preserve, Bob and I stopped to chat with Robyn. Robyn is one of the naturalists at Wahkeena, and she was the original author of the Wahkeena Nature Preserve blog. Robyn asked us how our walk went. I mentioned that I had seen lots of amphibian eggs in pools of water, but I didn't know how to tell the difference between frog eggs and salamander eggs. She offered then and there to show us the difference. We went to a little pool and Robyn lifted up two groups of eggs Read more ➜

Wahkeena in June

We stopped by Wahkeena Nature Preserve this past weekend; unlike our previous trip, we didn't hike the trails there. Instead we focused on the marsh, pond, and streams. Water lilies were blooming in both the pond and marsh, and as you can see above, bees were busy pollinating them. Here are some more scenes from this wetland area. If you go to check out the marsh, we recommend using some DEET this time of year to keep flying pests away. We once again stopped Read more ➜

Wahkeena Nature Preserve

Wahkeena Nature Preserve is a hidden gem located in the SE corner of Fairfield County. The preserve lies just beyond the farthest point of glacial advance at the peak of the ice age.  The word, "Wahkeena" is an Indian word meaning, "most beautiful." Given the variety of flowering shrubs and plants (including eight varieties of native orchids), this seems a very fitting name. You will see a brown sign for Wahkeena on US 33 as you head into the Hocking Hills. Wahkeena is well worth a detour. As Read more ➜