Readers’ wildlife photos

August 16, 2022 • 8:00 am

Today’s photos come from reader Bruce Cochrane, whose notes and IDs are indented. You can click on the photos to enlarge them.

Although my young adult dream, after an incredible year as a VISTA volunteer in Northern Idaho, was to settle in the Pacific Northwest, career demands have taken me elsewhere: Indiana, North Carolina, Florida (26 years) and finally Ohio (15 years and counting).  What I found was that, wherever I ended up, there were natural sites worth seeing and photographing.  In Ohio, it’s been the prairies in bloom.

Adams County is home to the “Edge of Appalachia”, a region of very high biodiversity.  My wife and I were fortunate enough to find a superb vacation rental property there and have stayed there often.  In particular, we go every August to celebrate Alice’s birthday and see the prairie plants in bloom.  A favorite site of ours is Chaparral Prairie, a Nature Conservatory property near West Union, where most of these photos were taken.

One of the most showy plants is the Blazing Star (Liatris spicata), a tall very showy flower that is usually purple but also occasionally shows up as a white (alba) variant (reminds me a bit of Sewall Wright’s classic work on Linanthus parryae).  It is also an excellent source of nectar for butterflies.

Blazing Star in bloom:

Blazing Star in purple and white:

Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) feeding on Blazing Star flower:

There are many other flowers to enjoy, including Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium), Goldenrod (Solidago ohioensis), and Ironweed (Veronia gigantea).

Rattlesnake Master.  Its name derives from the use of its nectar by Native Americans as a remedy for snake bites incurred during ceremonial snake handling:



Another common prairie plant is the Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), which is also widely used as a landscape plant:

When flowering together, these create a lovely landscape:

Let’s not forget the animal kingdom.  We always set up a moth light at the cabin, and in some years, the results are spectacular.  The most spectacular are Luna Moths (Actias luna), and in 2019, we counted 21 of them on our porch.  Here’s the only one we saw this year:

And finally, our only introduced species – Felis catus.  This is Alexander, a stray who greeted us on the porch last year.  He came home with us and has proven to be a delightful addition to our (rather large) cat family:

13 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Terrific photos! That region you describe is indeed very interesting and diverse in flora and fauna. I have a special soft spot for ironweed, which is a super butterfly magnet.

  2. Can I leave a joke here?

    I only know 25 letters.

    I don’t know Y.

    My wife’s cousin, who teaches second grade, collects those.

  3. Yes, this is a spectacular preserve! And it must be at the peak of bloom now. Haven’t been to Chaparral Prairie for a while. Made it to Lynx Prairie in May, but not nearly the show it as well must be putting on now. Great photos!

  4. We have enjoyed Lynx Prairie in the past, but this year it was rather disappointing. The posted photos were taken on the Blazing Star Loop trail – a new one that is quite enjoyable and easy.

  5. Beautiful prairie plants in bloom! Blazing Star is one of my favorites. Although I’ve seen white (and pink) cultivars, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a white one in the wild. I have often wondered about the meaning of the name Rattlesnake Master, but I never got around to looking it up. The things you learn around here…

  6. Thanks for these lovely and evocative photographs. I liked the glimpse of that old, worn, well-used table. Now there is a table that knows about time.

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