I found this guy sunning himself on the path in Dunn Woods in July of 2015. I am not well versed in the world of insects, but I am pretty sure this is a Red-spotted purple, aka Limenitis arthemis. Funny name, as the butterfly is obviously blue, not purple. On the static image below, you can see the red spots on the upper part of the wings. The red-spotted purple is a mimic of the poisonous Pipevine Swallowtail, which would seem to be its main defense. It is a member of the largest group of butterflies, Nymphalidae, which are commonly called four footed, butterflies as they stand on only 4 of their 6 legs, the two front one are usually curled up. They are also known as brush-footed butterflies, as the two front feet are often quite hairy. Other members of the Nymphalidae include emperors, monarchs, admirals, tortoiseshells, and fritillaries. It took me a good hour to figure this one out, if you have a favorite site or book for IDing butterflies, let me know!
Dunn Woods has a large colony of Erythronium albidum, the White Trout Lily, which is rarer than its cousin the yellow trout lily, Erythronium americanum. The white lilies appeared just after April Fool’s day, and are still going strong on April 12. A few yellows have appeared, but the main body of them is still dormant. Both are spring ephemerals, and come out a bit later than the early birds like Harpinger of Spring, Cutleaf Toothwort, and Spring Beauty, all of which have been in bloom for a while. Today I found that the white version blooms fully before the yellow variety. A couple of yellows are out in some sunny spots, but the whole colony of white trout lilies is blooming now. Some folks use the term Fawn Lilies for either type, as it is the leaves that remind one of the mottled skin of brown trout, or a young fawn.
This colony is growing en masse on both sides the path highlighted here. They certainly seem to enjoy growing together in a homogenous swatch. Underground the elongated bulbs can be dug (not in Dunn Woods!) and cooked like any root vegetable, or dried and ground into flour. The bulbs are small compared to potatoes, but with with hundreds/square foot, they are an abundant forest crop.
The yellow version is sometimes called dogtooth violet, but this seems to me to be a poor name for it as it is not related to the violet family, even though it appears at the same time of year. But the violets last long into the summer, while the Erythroniums are true ephemerals and will stop blooming in a few weeks. So take a walk through the southeast quadrant of the woods, and you will see these beautiful spring ephemerals.
In my original rationale for bike riding, written in 2002, I mention both the health benefits and my love of being close to nature. Now I realize that I have some other motivations as well, I’ll fill these in as I have time.
- Low oil lifestyle
- Time for Reflection
Here is some stuff I wrote back in ’02, before blogging hit the big time!
In the Fall 1998 I started riding my bike (an old Schwinn Collegiate that I bought to commute to my job at the Bloomington Voice/Independent). After much cogitation, I bought a Trek 700 in July of 1999. A hybrid bike, it offered me the ability to hit the road for a long ride around Lake Monroe, but also served to navigate the potholes of Bloomington. I rode it through December of 1999, and I am sure it was a major contributing factor to a neck spasm, causing pain and numbness down my neck and back. As I ride to lower my blood pressure, I could not give up riding. Through the generous help of good friend Kevin Atkins, I was able to start riding an old (but well maintained) Rans Status.
I try to enjoy short trips (15-20 mi.) each day, and once a week a longer journey (40+ mi.), usually around Lake Monroe to the south, or around Lake Lemon to the north. I logged 4500 miles in 2001, but due to an increased work load, made just 3800 in 2002. I replaced the back cassette and chain last spring, which improved the over all performance by 20 percent. I have been having trouble in the recent snow with freezing cables, but no falls as yet!
While riding my mind is occupied with observing the plants and wildlife here in southern Indiana. In a single week I’ve seen kingfishers, hoot owls, bluebirds, hawks and eagles. I’ve coasted past fawns standing innocently in the road, and saw my first red fox crossing Lanham Ridge Road (and I have seen 3 more since). On March 8, 2003 while riding around Lake Monroe, I saw first a flock of sandhill cranes, then a group of very talkative red-tailed hawks, and on Chapel Hill road I startled by 4 wild turkeys, who flew right past me. On the botanical side, I’ve found wild bergamot, bellflower, fire pink, and pawpaw. I’ve eaten dandelion, watercress, mulberries, apples, black raspberries, blackberries, may apples, sumac, rosehips, persimmons, and mushrooms, including a specimen of Agaricus Campestris, I found right on the IU campus!
My concern about the PCB pollution here led me to study the watersheds and the karst typography of Bloomington, and I’ve developed an interest in knowing where I am in relation to waterflow, what creek or sinkhole takes the water I see on my rides. We have some great hills here, dropping in and out of the creeks that feed the two forks of the White River in the Norman Uplands/Mitchell Plain area where Bloomington is located.
May Apple, Podophyllum peltatum, aka American Mandrake and Ground Lemon, is common in the woodlands of southern Indiana, and is well represented in Dunn Woods. Last week they were just starting to poke their heads up, but this week they have fully popped out their full leaves. May apples typically have one or two large leaves. The two leaf versions produce flowers and eventually (in June) a fruit. They grow in colonies from a single rhizome, or rootstock. As an alternate name (American Mandrake) suggests, the plants are toxic, containing podophyllotoxin, which is used topically to remove warts, and has shown some promise as an anti-cancer and anti-viral agent, but don’t try this at home!
They produce a smooth lemon sized fruit that is edible in small quantities when fully ripe (they turn from green to yellow when ready). Some folks have a bad reaction to them, but I found them delicious, they are sweet/sour, and have the consistency of grapes. But they are very are to find when ripe, it seem the mammals in the woods get to them just as they turn yellow, it is a bit like trying to find a ripe paw paw, the animals know where and when to pick, and don’t leave much for humans!
These two mushrooms are often confused with each other as they have a similar appearance, both resembling a turkey’s tail, fan-like and with bands of muted browns, gray-blues, tans, whites and even green (when colonized by algae). Both are common year round on dead and dying wood, and both are white rot decomposers, eating the brown lignons in wood, leaving the white cellulose for other fungi. Trametes versicolor is the true turkey tail, whereas Stereum ostrea is known as false turkey tail. It is not a polypore like T. versicolor, it has no pores underneath the cap, and is classed as a crust fungi.
Dexter has a couple of favorite activities, including train spotting. He lives just a couple of blocks from the train line where it splits with one line heading northeast and the other towards the southwest and the Indiana coal fields. So one line has a lot of freight traffic with lettering that indicate shipments from China and beyond, the other is pretty much a coal line heading towards the Indianapolis power stations.
Especially fascinating are the local engines that stop right at the Habitat Trail View site, and the engineer or brakeman jumps out of the engine, and then goes back to the switch station, unlocks it, and then pulls the handle over to switch the tracks to the other line. Sometimes they even back up to the other track and switch the tracks back to allow an express freight train to pull through. We often hear the engines “making up” a line of boxcars on the westside of SR 37, there are a number of spurs around the GE plant on Curry Pike. Not as often we hear them making up a train on the eastside, there are a number of sidings where the line runs along 12th Street between Walnut and Fess Streets. So we hear the whistles, but often a train does not come by, a bit of a disappointment.
So I always carry a kite with me, just in case the trains do not come by, and the wind is right. We have a small sled kite with no ribs, no skeleton, which makes it easy to keep in my bag or pocket, but it will work well only with somewhat strong winds. So Trail View is a good spot for both train spotting and kite flying, at least until all the houses are built. On Sunday the wind was high, and the trains did not come, so I pulled out the kite and Dexter was able to fly it over the train tracks without getting it stuck on the fence. He has figured out how to pull on the string to keep it flying, and the amount of joy he gets from it is exceeded only by watching the trains themselves, or perhaps by swimming and playing at a splash pad, so the good times will continue, and perhaps increase this spring and summer!
I remember making my first animated gif back in the last century, a little car that zoomed across the CARR homepage. Now they are all the rage…and yes they are fun. I have these hosted on the site Giphy, which allows me to post them on Facebook which does not properly display them otherwise.
Talking Parsel tongue…
At the Garden
Kendama with Grandma
At Griffy with Elsa
Ice cream bar!
Riding bikes with Charlie
Carhartts make winter fun!
Checking out Lil’ Bub on his new shirt
HTO LIVE DISCUSSIONS
July 8, 2014
QUESTION: Good morning, and welcome to this morning’s chat with DNR conservation officer, Angela Goldman. Angela, thanks so much for joining us again here in the newsroom.
QUESTION: I’ve heard there are new rules concerning foraging for mushrooms off-trail on state property. Could you elaborate on your understanding of off-trail foraging?
Mitch Rice, Bloomington
ANGELA GOLDMAN: It is legal to hunt mushrooms on all state owned lands. This includes state parks, state forests, state fish & wildlife areas, and state recreational areas. The only restrictions are in nature preserves. You are allowed to hunt mushrooms if the nature preserve is a part of a state forest, state park, etc. If it is a standalone property, then the nature preserve makes their own rules.
It is legal to hunt mushrooms on any property in the Hoosier National Forest, as long as they are for personal use. Harvesting for commercial purposes is not allowed. Hunting in local city parks is up to that individual community parks department.
The new rule change simply clarifies that a person MAY go off the trail on state properties to hunt mushrooms. Most mushroom hunters never realized this was in question so it should not affect many
people. Just remember if you are going off trail to be aware of where you are, stay on property you have permission to be on, and carry a GPS with the location of your vehicle marked. Every year Conservation Officers are called out to find mushroom hunters who have lost their way.
No, not exactly, but a pair of Cooper’s Hawks have been nesting in Dunn Woods since I first noticed them in 2008. Their nests are easy to distinguish from that of the numerous squirrels in the woods, always very high, and made of sticks and stems rather than leaves. The latest one is in a large tree close to Bryan Hall, they have been observed by workers on the third floor, just a hundred feet or so from the east facing windows.
As you may now, Bloomington has had a winter influx of crows over the last few years, and they roost at night in large groups numbering in the hundreds. At dusk you can see them flying together to one of their favorite spots on the west side, at the courthouse, in Elm Heights and in Dunn Woods. Here they are at my house on a cold February evening.
So the city, and IU, have found a way to keep the crows away. Downtown on the square, at Bryan Hall, and at Morrison Hall, as evening comes on, squawks and calls from a variety of raptors are broadcast to the night skies. This seems to push the crows to another roosting spot (like Elm Heights), and thus keep the crow dropping off the parking meters on the square, and footpaths in Dunn Woods. But the giant murders of crows stop roosting in town as soon as the weather gets warm, apparently they have better things to do and places to be.
But IU keeps the recordings going through March and April (and maybe longer). This seems like overkill, and may well have kept the Cooper’s Hawks from nesting. At the very least it is keeping the mammals and smaller birds in on edge through sunset and dusk. I am wondering who to ask about having the recordings turned off now that the weather is warm and there is no need for the (disconcerting and annoying) recordings?