Nature notes, on the Cumberland plateau

We spent the weekend at the house of a friends parents, in Tennessee, on the Cumberland plateau. It was a great weekend, and there were some interesting nature sights.

For one, an Eastern Bluebird had gotten trapped in their heater. Pam rescued it, and it was safely released. Later, three Eastern Phoebes had fledged from their nest on the front porch. Later, in the driving rain, we noticed the three perched about a foot off the ground. So Pam went and got them, and tried putting them back on the nest, where they could at least be dry. All three promptly fluttered away into the darkness, to three different areas on the ground. So, our attempts at aid had made things worse.

The next day, we went on a hike with Flo and Earl. (Kristin’s parents). We saw a host of mushrooms – most of them the interesting looking coral mushrooms. The midpoint of the hike, and one of the more interesting sights of the weekend, was that the pond was *full* of red spotted newts. Most of them were male, and had the flattened feet characteristic of breeding season. We later found a single orange eft (another stage in the red spotted newt lifecycle) wandering around the woods nearby. In this stage, they are terrestrial.

We have a (hopefully) interesting walk to attend this Saturday

July 13, 2013, Oaky Woods Prairies and Butterflies, Houston County in middle
Meet:  10:00 AM

Trip Leader:  Tom Patrick

Description: On this trip to Oaky Woods,  we will look at the butterflies and midsummer wildflowers on our largest examples of blackland prairies or Georgia Eocene chalk prairies, as they are sometimes called.  We will have a butterfly expert and will spend the morning on as many prairies as possible.
After lunch at our vehicles, we will take a 2-mile easy walk to the Grand Prairie to continue our butterfly and wildlfower hunt.  Depending on summer rains, the prairies may be full of yellow prairie coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) and have assorted milkweeds, legumes and composites.  Be prepared to see some neat plant-insect interactions.

Directions: Meet in Bonaire northeast corner gas station/Taco Bell at the intersection of GA Hwy. 96 and US Hwy. 129. Take Exit 142 east from I-75, or travel south 5 miles from Warner Robins on US Hwy. 129.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate, on roadsides and following trails.

Facilities: Meeting place has ample facilities. None on site.

Bring: Lunch or snacks, tick repellent, easy walking shoes or hiking boots, with two pair of socks.  Bring hand lens and butterfly binoculars.

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