In looking for something today I thought I saw a listing for a Fern Walk at the Wahkeena Nature Preserve near Lancaster, Ohio.
When we arrived and asked about it we were told that they were having a nature walk/hike but it was not specifically for ferns. Initially disappointed it turned out to be much better.
Nora was the naturalist who lead our tour. She was amazingly knowledgeable in all aspects of what we found on our hike. If you stop to really look you will find some great shapes and colors in the woods.
UPDATES – Tom from the nature preserve was kind enough to provide updates as to what each photo was. The Featured Image above is a Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (an orchid)
Before we started the actual hike we spent some time near a pond.
While few, the flowers that were present near the pond were very vivid. The flower is a Swamp Rose Mallow – a wild hibiscus (update from Tom)
Something that looked like straw grew across some of the other growth in the pond. The “straw” is Dodder – a parasitic wildflower.
The water lily (?) stood out against the sea of green. Confirmed by Tom to be a water lily 🙂
Once we started our educational hike we spent time examining all of sorts of things in the woods – like this decaying tree. The shapes resulting from the decay make for an interesting subject.
The primary purpose of the walk was to identify orchids. Yes, there are orchids in Ohio – just not like the giant ones you see in places like Hawaii.
Unfortunately I spent more time taking pictures and less time listening to Nora so I missed the name of this one – Sorry Nora.
Thanks to Tom’s update I can state this is a Cranefly orchid.
Another Downy Rattlesnake Plantain orchid.
Another orchid? I should really pay better attention.
Tom’s update – Green Adder’s Mouth orchid.
A different looking caterpillar.
A type of an apple that grows along the ground – a favorite of turtles. This is known as a Mayapple.
As we progressed we began to see a number of fungi, more impressive ones than our fungi hike we had a few weeks ago.
There was a large collection of shapes and colors of fungi.
Some on the dead trees.
Some residual Virginia Creeper vines.
A ghost orchid this is not! Tom has identified this as an Indian Pipe or Ghost Pipe – a saprophytic wildflower.
We came across this massive fungi, which looked very cool from the side
As well as the overhead view.
Some amazing coloring of shelf mushrooms on a tree.
More growing up a tree.
More on a bed of moss.
Some very large shelf fungi.
A close up.
We also came across a small ‘Ring Neck’ snake, which Nora was kind enough to pick up and show us.
After we completed our hike, we went to a second nature preserve just down the road – Rhododendron Cove.
The sandstone cliffs here are amazing.
How the preserve gets it’s name – rhododendrons everywhere, up against the 50′ cliff.
The sandstone always has great erosion patterns.
A hole eroded from the face of the cliff.
Amazing ‘honeycomb’ erosion.
Motivated by Nora’s teachings, we paid attention on our walk back to the car – finding even more along the path through a meadow.
Go find a local park – there are lots of people like Nora anxious to share their knowledge of the world around us all.