Click here for a list of the flowering species we found and more photos.
On a cloudless morning, ten people attended our nature walk at Raccoon. The temperatures went from mid 50’s to low 70’s for the 3 mile loop on the Jennings and Audubon Trails. Over 50 species were in bloom and another handful in bud.
The hills sides were covered with Dwarf larkspur and the lowlands we re dense with spring cress and golden ragwort. Violets abounded. The trillium were waning but were still beautiful. Goldenseal was still in bloom.
Common Blue Violet
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Dwarf Larkspur
The highlight of the day for me was the abundance of the submerged aquatic buttercup, yellow water crowsfoot, Ranuculus flabellaris, which was a life plant for all attending.
Yellow Water Crowsfoot
Saturday, May 23 was cool and cloudy, but two of us were treated to some lovely displays of wildflowers at Boyce Mayview park in Upper St. Clair. From the Boyce Rd. parking lot, we hiked the Wetlands, Duckbill and Trillium Trails. Highlights were gorgeous hillsides of Blue Phlox and Toadshade Trilliium, and a lovely patch of Large Flowered Bellwort. Also seen were Dutchman’s Breeches, Toothwort, Larkspur, Golden Alexanders and Lesser Celandine. Past their prime were Trout Lilies, Hepatica, Spring Beauty and Bloodroot. We got a good look at a Towhee, but missed the Blue Herons and Great White Egrets seen earlier.
Submitted by Leader: Judy Stark
Our speaker, Donna Foyle, talked about her birding trip to St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. She stayed four nights at the village of Gambell, which has no motorized vehicles except ATVs. About 600 Yupik native Americans call Gambell home. All supplies, food, building materials,clothes, televisions, ATVs etc. must be flown in.
The second leg of the trip was in Nome, where they saw glaciers with blue ice, melting into the sea.
Donna purchased a hand carved ivory walrus tusk image of a whale as a souvenir. The residents depend on tourists to supplement their incomes.
The rocks were samples of the hard-to-walk beach area. This was the last meeting of the club year. See you again on the trails and back at Fern Hollow Nature Center in September.
May 7, Saturday, 10:00 a.m. Raccoon Creek State Park Wildflower Reserve, by Dianne Machesney. Bring a picnic lunch.
June 3, Friday, 10:00 a.m. Buzzard Swamp, Marionville, by Bob Machesney. This will be for dragonflies and butterflies. Bring a net. Dress for ticks. 4 mile loop. Bathroom available in parking lot. No picnic tables.
June 11, Saturday, Wissahickon Annual Picnic, Mingo Creek State Park.
June 24, Friday, 10:00 a.m. Whiskerville Gamelands by Bob Machesney. This will be for dragonflies and butterflies. Bring a net. Dress for ticks. 4 mile loop. No bathrooms. Rain date will be June 26.
August 6, Saturday, 10:00 a.m. Jennings Prairie by Dianne Machesney.
Our speaker, Norm Diebold and his wife, Linda gave us an introduction to Bee Farming. His hives reside at Fern Hollow Nature Center and are used for educational purposes.
We learned there are seven recognized species of honey bees and 20,000 other bee species. They have been around for 30 million years. A typical hive will have 20,000 to 30,000 bees. Queens can live for 2-3 years. All the workers are female and drones are male. The worker bees can sting only once and it causes their death. Queens and drones can sting multiple times.
Norm talked about the ways bees communicate with pheromones, how they gather nectar to make honey, store pollen and seal cracks in the hive with propolis. Honey is antibacterial and never goes bad.
He went into a lot of detail about hive management and winter survival. The biggest problem is managing/preventing mite infestations. There were many questions, and Norm patiently answered them all.
Our speaker, and club member, Adam Haritan, presented Foraging For Wild Medicines. After a lively introduction about the benefits of wild foods, Adam highlighted a few plants and mushrooms that appear in spring, including Hawthorne, Stinging Nettle, White Pine Pollen and Turkey Tail mushrooms. He talked about the health value of each and how to make teas, decoctions and tinctures, using his favorite ethanol product – 40% Organic Vodka.
Adam had an array of his tinctures for sale. He uses his medicines as tonics, at low dosage levels and is not giving medical advice for particular ailments. See your doctor for that!
Adam has posted an excerpt of this talk on his blog. View it at: http://learnyourland.com/foraging-for-wild-medicines-and-the-importance-of-a-medicinal-strategy/
Our guest speaker was Andrew Zadnik from the Western PA Conservancy’s Land Stewardship Program. He spoke of the different properties owned by the Conservancy and also of those 36,000 acres protected by conservation easements.
Special emphasis was given to Tom’s Run Property off of Route 65, since it is the closest to our meeting site at Fern Hollow Nature Center.
Members noted the death of E-2, the male peregrine from the Cathedral of Learning. His mate, Hope, had laid two eggs and probably will not incubate them now. There is still time for her to find a new mate this season.
Thanks to Judy Stark for making our favors this year!
Don Weiss presented a charming, sometimes humorous, show of his own photographs of mammals, starting with a photo of his cat at home,then venturing into his yard with photos of deer and chipmunks, then into the neighborhood with red fox at a local park, then further afield with sightings from around the state of PA and finally going national at parks, including Yellowstone. We learned that a wildlife photographer has to have great patience and be willing to put up with all types of weather.
He also brought an exhibit of various mammal-related items.