A lovely morning walk through the upland meadows of the Clifton Institute for fall wildflowers, led by Bert Harris and staff. I got good photos of Field Thistle (Cirsium discolor) and found Hog Peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata) in flower. The group met Slender Bush Clover (Lespedeza virginica), Trailing Lespedeza (L. procumbens), and Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora)
(called Green Antelopehorns by iNaturalist). Bert explained how to distinguish New York Ironweed from Upland Ironweed—this is the first time I really got it, with an example of the yellowish pappus of Upland in hand.
Labor Day means a hike in Shenandoah National Park. I made a keyhole loop with the Crescent Rock Trail and the Limberlost Trail. I was going at Grandpa pace today—mostly my intention was to scout Limberlost for a future project. Common Katydids (Pterophylla camellifolia) were calling at mid-day in the Crescent Rock parking lot.
There are a few of the Limberlost’s famous hemlocks hanging on. There’s a big patch of what appears to be Sweet Birch (Betula lenta), perhaps replacing the hemlocks?
I did find a bit of Tall Milkweed (Asclepias exaltata). And iNaturalist suggested IDs of Silvery Glade Fern (Deparia acrostichoides) (I couldn’t find fertile fronds, dang it) and an ichneumonid wasp, Limonethe maurator.
3.4 miles in 3:30, 120m elevation change.
When I’m puzzling out the ID of a hairstreak or swallowtail, I depend on Cech and Tudor’s essential Butterflies of the East Coast: An Observer’s Guide (2005). The book has one significant flaw, however: to look up a species, the index doesn’t indicate the page where the main entry appears. No boldface or italics. The index for Monarch cites 24 different pages.
So, I fixed it, in part: Index to Cech and Tudor, Butterflies of the East Coast: An Observer’s Guide, main entry, by common name.
With a little determination (and self-control in the bookstore), I am back to having only one shelf’s worth of books to read.
And yes, I have become the person with two cast recordings of Anyone Can Whistle, two electric hedge trimmers, and two translations of Du côté de chez Swann.
My road trip took me to several spots in the Roanoke vicinity.
First off was Poor Mountain Natural Area Preserve, known for its population of the hemiparasitic Piratebush (Buckleya distichophylla). I set off down aptly-named loop trail. Some determined peering under foliage turned up two female plants beginning to come into fruit. I also became reacquainted with Galax (Galax urceolata); met a ferny-looking plant that turned out to be Canadian Wood Betony (Pedicularis canadensis); and stumbled across an American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) maybe 10 feet tall.
Buffalo Mountain Natural Area Preserve in Floyd County was recommended by Chris Ludwig as one of the best NAPs to visit in August—he steered me right. I arrived early on a Friday morning, before the tiny parking lot filled up. Oh, so quiet. I heard Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) (and got a visual) and Scarlet Tanager’s (Piranga olivacea) chick-burr. Not looking for anything in particular, I found a couple specialties of the house: hot pink Allegheny Onion (Allium allegheniense) and Roan Mountain Rattlesnakeroot (Nabalus roanensis) just coming into flower.
Barrens at the top (about 160 m climb from trailhead) revealed Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana) and an oak that I’m not so sure about.
For fun, I’m trying the state parks trail challenge, so I added two parks to the road trip. Fairy Stone State Park in Patrick County delivered some interesting looks on the Whiskey Run loop: a huge clone of Fan Clubmoss (Diphasiastrum digitatum), Common Elephant’s Foot (Elephantopus tomentosus), and the iNaturalist community pinned down the first robber fly that I’ve found for myself: Red-footed Cannibal Fly (Promachus rufipes).
The trail I intended to take at Smith Mountain Lake State Park was closed, so I followed a trail closer to the lake. The area is very… recreational. But some Blue-fronted Dancers (Argia apicalis) showed up.
Bonus butterfly for the trip, and it proved to be a lifer: On my way home, I pulled up at the Nelson County Wayside south of Charlottesville to stretch my legs and fiddle with the CD player. I chatted with a guy who had stopped to do much the same. But I caught a glint of yellow flickering along the gravel. After the fellow left, I pulled out my camera and snapped away. When I got home, I keyed out my first Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe)!
Say hello to Dr. Hardtacks on his first road trip, already a little dusty from the drive. We’re at the trailheads for Buffalo Mountain in Floyd County, early enough to pick our own space before the parking lot fills up (and it did, on a Friday morning).
With multiple new safety features and an automatic backy-uppy parking trick, the doctor is definitely smarter than me. His surname comes from the name of a turtle that Aaron Posner likes to work into his scripts.
For the first 1000 miles, we’re doing 66.5 mpg.
John D. Cook illustrates the Major mnemonic system for phone numbers and such.
So long, Della, faithful sidekick for 14 years. We traveled to various places in Ohio, to Memphis, to Maine and New Brunswick, and to Florida (by Auto Train). Della will soon be turned into public radio programming.
Today in counterfactual history, NPR sells off cultural programming, new network dubbed ‘NPR Music & Entertainment’, by Wes Horner.
In all the excitement about celebrating NPR’s 50th, we’ve managed to lose sight of some of the network’s original aspirations in the arts arena, and some crazy, risk-taking frontier women and men who, like me, had a somewhat different vision for NPR than its present, near-total news identity.
Coffee drinkers are indeed willing to pay more for socially responsible coffee, according to a new meta-analysis.
They’re coming! It’s the summer of glacier ice worms (Mesenchytraeus spp.).