Tuesday, July 29, 2014



July has been a cold month and today most have been the coldest at around 60. One of the trees creaked as I walked by it, making me aware of the strong wind that blew through the meadow. The sun’s rays barely made it to the ground through the cloud soaked sky. Bee Balm has lost its radiance and the goldenrod has now become more pronounce but not yet come into bloom.

The focus, today, is on trees of the meadow and what is living in it. The meadow is surrounded by different types of tress and it has slowly started being taken over by different shrubs. I still can’t identify one of the main shrubs in the meadow but I hope to have it identified by the end of the summer.

Walking through my ecosystem the brush it thick and at the beginning of the meadow the grasses were blown down or were they trampled by an animal? The two trees that I looked at had to be at least 10 to 15 years old, standing 15 to 20 feet tall. The Red Maple had lots of bushes around it that must have been from the birds reliving themselves.

Let us identity

Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)

This tree is highly valued by its medicinal uses and traditional uses. Bark was used for rope for baskets and other storage baskets. Almost each tribe had their own uses for the tree from sores eyes to helping with childbirth. Today the tree is still found in herb stores and used for throat relief. It is also used in commercial furniture but may be better for its medicinal uses.

The biggest identifying feature of the tree are leafs that are sharply toothed and leafs that are rough on top and hairy on the bottom. “Slippery” comes from the inner bark. Slippery Elms loves the Great Lakes region and the Midwest, which is where Indiana is located. The elm also is a pioneer species especially after fires. While my meadow may not have been hit by fire it is located in the Midwest and the meadow was in a state of being occupied by pioneer species.
Caldecott, T. (n.d.). Slippery Elm. toddcaldecott. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from http://toddcaldecott.com/herbs/slippery-elm/

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

One of the largest trees in my meadow is, what I believe, is a Red Maple that was easy to identify within the maple family but was more difficult in determining the species of maple. One of the biggest indicators that I found was that the twigs were red. Most other maples have the characteristic of having 5 lobes while the Red Maple only has three pronounce lobes. Like all maples, the fruits are the helicopters spreading by wind making it one of the first trees to be spread into the meadow.

I cannot wait for fall to come to see the bright foliage of the red leafs that it will display. The maple also love dry slopes. The tree can be used in low quality wood but also can have some medicinal uses. Bark can be used for relief and treatment of sores eyes.
Maples. (n.d.). A Modern Herbal. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/maples14.html#red
Red Maple Tree. (n.d.). Red Maple Tree. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from http://maple.dnr.cornell.edu/kids/tree_red.htm

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

I am surprised that the gray catbird has not been heard earlier. The first sign of my little visitor was the distinct cry that sounds like a cat meowing. At first I was afraid of something attacking me but after a while the gray bird flew to the top of the tree about ten feet from me. It has an impressive voice for both the way it sounds like a cat and that it can last up to 10 minutes.

Dumetella, its genus, means “small thicket” and that is exactly where I found it. I was near the edge of the meadow where the bushes and the smaller trees have started creeping in and has started to look like a young forest. They live in clearings, roadsides, and abandoned farmland which is what the meadow use to be.

You can also see the Catbirds during the winter months protecting their habitat which is unusual for most species. They will even destroy nests of other birds making them a very territorial bird. But, gray catbirds are common in much of the U.S. making it no surprise in me hearing and finally seeing it.
Gray Catbird. (n.d.). , Life History, All About Birds. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/gray_catbird/lifehistory

Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)

Most of what I have learned about Black Raspberries has come from the professors at Merry Lea. I do not know if I had Black Raspberries before coming to M.L. because I thought they were Blackberries. But, they love to invade into areas near forests and take over meadows in succession. They can become so bad that the process of succession can be halted for a few years.

I still am afraid that leafs were poison ivy but the thorns on the stems and the black berries are a giveaway that it is Black Raspberries. The fruits are delicious to eat and make a great snack. The plant has begun to creep into the meadow and can be seen near the edge of the meadow and other shrubs located in the meadow.
Rubus occidentalis Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Rubus occidentalis Fact Sheet. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=138



1st Stanza

The grasses grow tall, swaying in the strong, cold wind

Trees are scattered across the dry old field

The suns make the field be revealed

Walking in the meadow gives me a better presence of mind

I look around for the loud called of the car bird that I finally find

You never know what you are going to see so keep your eyes peeled

I will identify many trees and I will not yield

The meadow is a place that I can unwind

2nd Stanza

When I walk away, I still smell the Bee Balm

The sun continues to shine bright

The birds continue to sing

I know why David wrote a psalm

Because he could see the light

Especially when the meadow in spring

Question of the week?

Ecotone is the transition between different ecosystems. The meadow is already in a transition between prairie and forest making the transition between the two is convoluted. Shrubs have started dominating the landscape but a few areas have long strips of grass growing all the way to the edge of the forest. While, shrubs and trees are invading the landscape there is a distinct change between the large trees near the border, where vines and undergrowth are running rampant.
Graves, R. (2011, March 13). Ecology Theory-Ecotone. . Retrieved July 29, 2014, from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/152345/
There is a distinct separation between the grasses and than the trees in the foreground while the picture bellow shows a lot of shrubs and smaller trees before the transition into forest 

The picture above shows the way that the meadow goes down into the forest but also has edges that are creeping into the meadow. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Summer Passing By


It was a cooler day out in the meadow. The breeze would bend the heads of the grasses down but they would always resume their full upright attention. Clouds were blocking the sun making the temperate stay in the upper 60s. Wild bergamot is still in blossom but has begun to lose the life that it use to have. A woodchuck hole devoured my foot as I stepped into the grass covered field but I continued on to the edge of the meadow collecting my thoughts and adjusting my senses to the natural world.
On the way out to my meadow, I had an encounter with a flock of poults and the two parents trying to gather up their children. Three of the poults were cut off while I was walking, so the mother came back to get her children. I was afraid that the she was going to attack but she walked back and kept an eye on where I was. Soon the poults took off and flew into the trees, so I left them alone and thanking God for the new interaction that I had.

Lets Identify

Yellow (Orange)-Collared Scape Moth (Cisseps fulvicollis)

While most moths are seen at night, drawn to the lights of porches, the scape moth can been seen during the day flying between flowering plants collecting their nectar. They are taking a risk flying during the day but predators are turned away because of their warning orange color, that make predators afraid of a potential toxicity.
It is no surprise seeing the moth here where their favorite plants of goldenrod and milkweed are abundant as well as their young love to feed on the grasses that are dominant in the meadow. The moth is black bodied and a black head but it has an orange (or yellow) neck. It is a common moth ranging over the Midwest and most of the U.S.
Arthropod Museum, Dept. of Entomology, University of Arkansas. (n.d.). Arthropod Museum, Dept. of Entomology, University of Arkansas. Retrieved July 24, 2014, from http://www.uark.edu/ua/arthmuse/scape.html 

Smooth Brome (Bromus inermis)

Considered to be an invasive species to some, this grass is very common in old fields and ditches. It is a favorite to livestock that feed on it for its high protein content, maybe that is the reason it is found in this meadow, that may have had held livestock. But, it has taken over in many areas where other valued grasses are sought after.
The meadow is a great place for the Brome because it is in a cooler climate and able to live in different moisture levels. Smooth Brome was raised for grazing purposes, spreading outside of the field into exposed areas. While it can offer a lot of protection and potential food source, it has started to invade into other areas.
Bush, T. (2002, February 1). Plant Fact Sheet for Smooth Brome. . Retrieved July 24, 2014, from http://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_brin2.pdf

Crescentspots (Family Nymphalidae, Genus Phyciodes)

Most likely the butterfly that I spotted was the Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos) because of its normal range but, it is very difficult in telling them apart. Adults feed on any type of nectar they can find but prefer asters and swamp milkweed. The young will feed on leafs of the true asters. This butterfly love my meadow because of the open field. They live almost anywhere in the U.S. even going into Canada. I found him flying in the middle of the meadow gathering nectar and enjoying the nice day.
Attributes of Phyciodes tharos. (n.d.). . Retrieved July 23, 2014, from http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Phyciodes-tharos

Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

I have to admit, I did not see them directly in the meadow but I saw them on my way to my spot and it would not be uncommon to see them in my meadow. My meadow also provides a lot of what the turkeys are looking for. They love open woodlands, that is what the meadow is turning into, as well as plenty of food of bugs and berries. Turkeys are one of the only domesticated native birds in the States. I thought the poults were following a female and a male but two females formed a group of their poults. Turkeys do fly! The young turkeys flew into the tree to hide from me but they will also roost in trees at night. The male court by gobbling and fan out his tail. After breeding, the male turkeys will from all-male flocks. They are important within the food system hunted by eagles, owls, large cats and they also make a great Thanksgiving Feast.

Wild Turkey. (n.d.). , Identification, All About Birds. Retrieved July 23, 2014, from http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/wild_turkey/



The poult followed its parents’ tail
But I got to close, so it began to wail
I’ve never had turkey
That was made into jerky
But they had escaped down the trail

Question of the week?

The only way that I have been distinguishing a meadow and a prairie apart from themselves is that prairies have been maintained by fire while meadows continue through successions. The meadow is already showing the change between grasses and forbs to a forest. JR’s meadow is already well on its way to the forest that surrounds it with the woody bushes and trees in the middle of the meadow. Soon the field will be taking over by back-raspberry vines that love the sunlight with other shade-intolerant species (Oaks) that will start too dominant the canopy. More shrubs will grow as well as more tree saplings such as sassafras, till they are the dominant species. It will continue to change till the shade-tolerant species see their opportunity and take it. Animals will transport more and more seeds into the meadow and species A will be replaced by species B that is adapted to that situation, soon bringing it to the maple, hickory forest that is a sign of an old growth forest.
Plant Succession. (n.d.). . Retrieved July 23, 2014, from http://www.bethelcollege.edu/users/berkebj/Marian/plant%20succession%20lecture.pdf
Succession. (2013, October 14). Succession. Retrieved July 23, 2014, from http://www.marietta.edu/~biol/biomes/succession.htm

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Dance of the Insects


   The trek into the meadow was through a dense matt of grasses and, the ever lovely, poison ivy creeped up to meet the sun. Although the weeds and flowers were not the concern of the day. The bees were in full buzz on the warm eighty degree day hoping from one flower to the next, lowering their heads into the bright colors in blossom around them. But, they never stopped to enjoy the sun, the sights, and the sounds around them, but I tried to use all my senses in order to more appreciate what was around me.
   It is a new experience searching threw this meadow near the Goodrich property. Other than the bees and grasses the field can be seen as in the latter stages of succession because of the amounts of bushes and small trees inhabiting the landscape.

Lets Identify

Butterfly Weed (Asclepia tuberosa)

  A proud orange flower in the middle of the meadow makes it, it's home because of the dry soils and the bright sunlight that it gets. The plant is related to the milkweed family, especially looking at the flowers that it produces. But, the plant produces a clear substance unlike its cousins.
  While being a very show plant, they are difficult in establishing. They rely on their long tap root to hold them in place and will disperse their seeds in the air to make sure the next generations appears within the next 2 to 3 years.
  They survive in many different landscapes, adapted to whatever comes their way. Monarchs use the plant to nurture their young but also adult butterflies take advantage of the nectar in the plants.
Asclepias tuberosa - Plant Finder. (n.d.). Asclepias tuberosa - Plant Finder. Retrieved July 15, 2014, from http://bit.ly/UbvcNR

Cherry-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum internum)

   One of the hardest species that was floating around the meadow was the little guy who would finally took a load off for me to take a picture. He is very similar to the ruby-faced, and white-faced meadowhawk. 
   I am slightly confused on why he was fly around the meadow because he is more into moving water (which there was none around). But, he made his appearance with his red abdomen and large clear wings. The dragonfly begins to fly in July and will continue to fly until October. The species is a common one that is seen and it should be admired for its bright colors that it displays.

Lung, M., & Sommer, S. (2001, January 1). Sympetrum internum (Cherry-faced Meadowhawk). Cherry-faced Meadowhawk. Retrieved July 15, 2014, from http://bit.ly/1jNrhDc

Box Elder/Ash-leaf maple (Acer negundo L.)

   The tree was located almost in the central part of the meadow where it was getting plenty of light. Commonly know as Box Elder the tree is actually a maple but not with its typical leaf shape. The leafs are compound opposite with having 3 to up to 7 leaflets, almost looking like poison ivy. The younger branches seemed to have more leafs have up to 7 leaflets. It resembles a maple but the production of its "helicopter" fruits. But, the tree has spread rapidly causing it to be a weed in some cases because of its rapid growth. 
Lytle, M. (2007, September 4). Acer negundo. . Retrieved July 15, 2014, from http://bit.ly/1kumbpW

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa L.)

   Is one of the dominant species of the small meadow. This has been recognized by the distinct smell that it has when disturbed and the square stem that places it into the mint family. The pink/purple flower is in a tube like form that is a great butterfly and bee plant. The plant spreads by both rhizomes and the seeds that it distributes into the soil. The bergamot survives in many different habitats but doesn't mind the extra bit of rain. 
Anderson, K. (2003, May 21). Plant Guide for Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa L.). . Retrieved July 15, 2014, from http://1.usa.gov/1rrbqtG


Little red dragonfly
Flying around my meadow
My new insect friend

Question of the week?

   Looking around my prairie I see large patches of the purple flower of Wild Bergamot, as well as many different grasses that are the definite dominant species. My grass identification is not at the best so judging by the land and a few features I think it it Timothy Grass that has current hold of the meadow. The meadow is a dry and in a transitional stage of prairie to forest.
   The seeds from the grasses were most likely one of the first species in the meadow. The seeds remained dormant until the had the exposed soil to grow. They were most likely wind dispersed as well from the other grasses surrounding the meadow.
Meadow Plants. (n.d.). Meadow Plants. Retrieved July 15, 2014, from http://bit.ly/1tRJqni