Friday, April 19, 2013

April 18, 2013, Ramble Report

We began with the great book give away -- the winner was one of our visitors from Conyers. Larry read a piece from The Conservation Movement by Scott Russell Sanders.

Two Notices:

  • Scott Russell Sanders will be reading at the Day Chapel at the Botanical Garden in Athens on Monday, April 22, at 7:00 PM. For more information see:
  • Everyone is invited to join a trail walk at Sandy Creek Nature Center at 9:00 AM, Tuesday, May 7, 2013.

Please check back on Monday to see photos of things seen on today's walk.

We needed to cover a lot of ground to see things today, so we bypassed the Dunson garden and took the White trail to the powerline cut. As we rushed past the native shade Garden we saw Trillium discolor on the right (yellow flower), a native plant that grows along the Savannah River in SC and GA, especially around Toccoa. Further along we passed a black cherry tree in bloom.

Turning right, up the powerline cut, our destination was near the top of the hill where several Birdfoot Violets were blooming. This plant is named for the shape of its leaves, which, to some, resembles a bird's foot. Surely they who named it were not ornithologists!

Species seen on the Power Line Cut:
  • Bowl and Doily spider (Frontinella pyramitela) webs
  • Needle Grass (flowering)
  • Toad Flax  (flowering)
  • Yellow Star Grass (flowering)
  • Field Madder (flowering)
  • Corn Salad (flowering)
  • Green and Gold (flowering)
  • Pussytoes (flowering)
  • Yellow Bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata)
  • Solomon's Seal
  • a mint
  • Mallow
  • Yellow Ragwort
  • Vetch
  • Wingstem
  • Whorled Coreopsis
  • Blue-eyed Grass (flowering)
  • Birdfoot Violet (flowering)
Hugh pointed out that Birdfoot Violets are usually found in the sun, on a slope and in poor soil. These Birdfoot Violets have been reading the same books.

Returning down the hill to the White trail we heard and saw a Brown Thrasher. The call of the Brown Thrasher differs from that of the Mockingbird in that each phrase is repeated twice instead of the three times. Gary also mentioned that Brown Thrashers have much larger repertoires than do Mockingbirds.
As we started back on the White trail Martha found a small cedar tree with apple rust and blackberry vines in bloom.

We took the White trail extension to the upper parking lot. Just before the trail crosses the road we stopped at a Black Cherry to examine the egg of a Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), the state butterfly of Georgia. I observed the female deposit her egg yesterday at 11:15 AM, so we know how old the egg is. In subsequent weeks those who are interested can play "find the caterpillar." Tiger Swallowtails in this part of the country lay their eggs on two kinds of trees: Cherry and Tuliptree (AKA Tulip Poplar, Yellow Poplar).

On the Orange Trail spring has progressed a lot since we last visited it three weeks ago (Feb. 28). Some of the spring ephemerals were still blooming and others were producing fruits.

Species seen on the Orange Trail

  • Perfoliate Bellwort (in fruit)
  • Bloodroot (in fruit)
  • Rue Anemone (flowering)
  • Mayapple (flowering)
  • Three-part Violet (flowering)
  • Christmas Fern (fertile frond tips developing)
  • Common Grapefern (fertile fronds developing)
  • Broad-beech Fern
  • Pink Azalea (flowering)
  • Sweet Shrub (flowering)
  • Solomon's Plume (flower buds)
  • Wild Geranium (flowering)
  • Wild Potato Vine
  • Atamasco Lily (flowering) !!
Perhaps the most astonishing sight was a large Barred Owl seen sleeping in a small tree near the trail. It continued to drowse, ignoring the oohs and aahs of our large group.

A side trip to a rotting log that yesterday had a bright yellow slime mold showed that you had to be there at the right time - today the color was a dirty brown. This slime mold is probably the one called Dog Vomit Slime Mold, Fuligo septica., a reference to its foul odor.

Returning to the garden via the bridge shortcut we noticed more Three-part Violets and a gall on the stem of a small White Oak. This gall is probably a Wool Sower Gall. It is produced when a very small wasp in the family Cynipidae inserts an egg (or eggs) into the stem tissue. The fuzzy growth that results is caused by substances injected with the eggs into the plant's tissues and/or by material produced as the wasp larvae feed on the plant. The plant responds by producing a gall - each species of Cynipid wasp can produce a different-appearing gall. (An interesting side note: Alfred Kinsey (yes, that Kinsey), who gained fame studying human sexual behavior started his career as a gall wasp specialist, describing over a thousand new species.) I'm keeping this gall in a plastic bag and I'll report back if any wasps emerge.

As we came out of the woods we saw Dwarf crested Iris, both maroon and green Jack-in-the-Pulpits, Goldenseal and Baptisia alba (all these have been planted by garden personnel). We identified Carolina Cranesbill (Geranium carolina)and a Black Willow (Salix niger) as we crossed the bridge. Some of us saw a young rabbit on our way to coffee.

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