Friday, April 30, 2010

Toadshade; Red Trillium

Toadshade was featured on today's Hoosier Safari. Toadshade is one of the first Trilliums that pop out in early April and shares the rich forest floor with the Jack in the Pulpit's.

I usually disagree with my guidebook when it states that certain flowers smell bad or like carrion. My book states that in warm weather this flower stinks like dead meat. I guess it wasn't warm enough to get that full olfactory effect today. The flower was odorless.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fishing Buddy

This guy was my fishing buddy a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately he didn't appreciate me as much as I appreciated him. He ended up high up in a tree and then flew off leaving all the fishing to me.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Critters from the Marsh

The Sandhill cranes in yesterday's post hang out in marshy areas. Rivers, streams, and marshes in Indiana have an assortment of critters that are crane food. The marsh harbors frogs and crawdads; mayfly, dragonfly, damsel fly and mosquito larva; snails; and aquatic insects. The backswimmer whose picture is on the left is an example of the aquatic insect that can be found in an Indiana marsh.

Backswimmers are pretty vicious insects. They like munching on just about anything that they can get their pinchers on; fish fry, tadpoles, snails, other insects. They are not picky. Unlike some other critters who share the swamp they can fly away if conditions of the marsh become too polluted or if the marsh dries up, although they are very tolerant to most conditions. When you watch them swim you notice that they are sleek and shiny. The shine comes from the little bubbles of air they carry with them in order to breath under water. When they stop to rest they hang upside down on some piece of vegetation in the water.

Some people look at a marsh or swamp and think mosquitoes. I look at a swamp and think crane habitat. If you want to learn more go to: Indiana Wetlands or visit a wetland near you.             

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A month ago the Sandhill Cranes moved into the areas of the Kankankee that I frequent. The marsh vibrated with the sounds of their calls. The wings of hundreds of these big birds seemed to create their own wind as they circled the marsh, came down to the ground, and then took off again in the joy of having arrived.

The other day I was back and things had calmed down. Now a small group of cranes walked back and forth grazing on small crustaceans that could be picked out of the mud. In the distance a pair of Swans, some Mallards, Woodducks, and the usual Canadian Geese shared the marsh with the cranes. Hopefully babies for all will arrive some day soon. I'll let you know when they do.      

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mayapples guarantee May is coming

One of the first green plants to pop through the forest floor is the Mayapple. The plants soon cover the floor; as if, since they are early, they've got dibs on the whole area. Eyes sick of winter snow and dingy brown, hunger for the green Mayapples. You have to look underneath the Mayapple to find the white, apple blossom type flower that blooms in Indiana in May or the yellow fruit that follows in June. The leaves are shiny and larger than most plants that grow in the forest in the light starved areas underneath the trees.

My field guide says that the leaves, seeds, and roots of Mayapples are poisonous if eaten in large quantities, although the native americans used the roots as a laxative. A jelly can be made out of the ripe fruit.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hoosier fishing

The fish have been biting the last two weeks. I've managed to get out a couple of times and have caught some good sized bluegill, crappie and a couple of small largemouth bass.

Thursday afternoon everyone seemed to be catching something at the Kingsbury Wildlife Area. So if you go...good luck!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

First of the wildflowers blanketing the woods of Indiana

I noticed a lot of new flowers today during a hike at Sunset Farm County Park in Porter Co Indiana. One of our new arrivals is the Jack-in-the-pulpit or Indian Turnip. According to my Audubon field guide Indians ate the corms of these flowers. They are said to have a very peppery taste made better by cooking. They are called Jack-in-the-pulpit because the flower looks like a tiny man in a pulpit. 
Personally I think it looks like a tiny papoose in a blanket.  The small plants are all over in the undergrowth of the oak and pine forest in the park and are adding to the growing green of the spring.