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Cedar Bog with Science Chimp

Thursday, August 19, 2010

On our field trip to Cedar Bog outside Springfield, Ohio, most of us were kneeling and snapping away and oohing and aahing on the boardwalk

led by Jim McCormac, one of the finest naturalists I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.

If you don't read his blog, Ohio Birds and Biodiversity, you must. He's a sparkly writer, good photographer, and best of all he knows what's interesting. He's always got a little wrinkle in the story, something I never knew. In short: Silverback Science Chimp.

There were some much rarer things yet at Cedar Bog's lovely visitor center. For one, I would really, really love to see a giant beaver. Alas, I would be seeing wooly mammoths, too, were that in the cards.

Here's a tooth. Imagine finding a tooth from a beaver the size of a black bear. The tooth was about 9" long. Eeeee-gad.

The cicadas were singing, and Jim taught us the difference between the Lyric Cicada's song (virtually no oscillation, just a steady buzzing trill) and the Lens Cicada (a gentle oscillation) and the Swamp Cicada (a heavy oscillation, all zizzy and snappy), and the Scissor-Grinder Cicada, the classic summer evening in-town species that goes ZWEOOO ZWEEEOO ZWEEOO.

Don't you love knowing that?
Again, no idea which one this is, but I was glad to spot him resting in a sumac. Speaking of spotting things, here's a young ruby-throated hummingbird hiding out in a tall umbellifer:

It was tending a patch of jewelweed. Always such a treat for me to see hummingbirds feeding from something other than red plastic.

A Snout butterfly, Libytheana bachmanii, only the second I've seen in Ohio. Jim says this is a "big invasion year" for this southern butterfly with the Jimmy Durante rostrum. They are very cute, if you can catch them sitting long enough. That's not actually a snout, but elongated labial palpae. I'm not sure what the snout does with its elephantine projection, but it is fond of fermenting fruit and nectar, so perhaps there's a food-gathering advantage. Or maybe it's a weevil with big dreams.

A net-winged beetle, Calopteron terminale. It was moving slowly about the leaf surfaces, raising its soft wing covers over its back in a semaphore display. I owe this ID to Eric Eaton and Kenn Kaufman's wonderful Kaufman Field Guide to the Insects of North America. Get it, and figger out the bugs in your world.

As I neared the end of my allotted time at Cedar Bog, Jim casually pointed out "that thing that looks like a human brain lying on the forest floor."

The Science Chimp was not fooled for an instant. This softball-sized object was the fruiting body of a skunk cabbage, from which the leaves had nearly melted away. She considered it for a moment, then asked aloud,

"And what would be the dispersal agent for the human brain fruit?"

To which, without missing a beat, my new friend Rich quipped,


Out of focus because I was laughing.

Rich and I bonded good, making jokes about prickly ash and such.

I love a plantsman. He works as a horticulturist by day, but clearly his avocation is Resident Stinkpot. We were trouble when combined.

Alas, all too soon it was time for me to bolt. I had an hour's drive to Columbus, where via the magic of cellaphones I was to connect for a torrid 20 minutes with my bestest Oklahoma buddy Timothy Ryan, he of the peerless photographic eye and the glorious blog From the Faraway, Nearby.

On my way I saw the most auspicious of automobiles, a Hot Rod Lincoln,
boding well for our quick reunion.

Is that not the baddest car you have ever seen? Nice color, too.

Tim was literally passing through Columbus on work, shepherding a platoon of mini Coopers from party to party. Tim has the most interesting life, which makes him great company. He is full of beans and ready for anything.

Seeing Timmers, however briefly (he had to leave within the hour) was the cherry on top of a perfect Zick weekend! We were both steamin' sweaty but we didn't care. My brutha from anotha mutha.

Why does he have to live in Oklahoma? Doesn't he know that he should move to Southern Ohio? I have amassed quite a list of people who should do that.


Great post, Julie, and I'm glad that you finally got to visit Cedar Bog, a truly legendary place among Ohio's many natural areas.

That was a great field trip full of interesting finds, and I wish that we could have stayed longer.

Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos and words.


I always learn something to wow my friends when reading your blog! We obviously have Lyric cicadas and the Scissors-grinders singing in our trees. Who knew??
The lyric variety is the sound of high summer to me, the grinder guys are certainly not so lyrical.
Caroline in SD

Betcha din't know about zombies and skunk cabbitch, either, Caroline.

Wait, the tire cover on that lincoln has wind turbines on it?? Weeeird, unless it's electric...

Your snout reminded me of last fall when we were inundated with them. (Thousands) I gave my 4 year old grandson a nylon laundry basket to use as a butterfly net and he could catch multiple snouts in it by just popping over a resting one. Soon he had several inside and then put the whole thing over his head and was running around the yard surrounded by snouts.

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