Category Archives: Nature Notes

Nature/Wildlife

The New Nature

by Allison Vaughn – Guest Post

Recently, there has been a surge in literature throughout the conservation community highlighting the importance of native plant gardening for the sustainability of wildlife. The National Wildlife Federation writes that chickadees, for example, require 5,000 insects from native plants to successfully rear a clutch. I trust them, just as I do Doug Tallamy’s fantastic book that highlights the importance of converting landscapes from turf to native flora to benefit wildlife. These and a myriad of other articles have positively impacted many communities now embracing native plantings in urban areas; they have reinvigorated Wild Ones chapters, native plant enthusiasts, and wildlife advocates. Add to the resurgence in growing natives are the reports of impacts to non-target wildlife from the widespread broadcasting of glyphosate and other herbicides in an effort for a “weed-free” lawn, and so forth. The assault on wildlife and the natural world is pervasive with sprawling development, wanton abuse of chemicals, regular thumbing of the nose to regulatory agencies and procedures that were put into place in the 1970s during the heyday of the environmental movement.

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Fun in the Garden with Critters

Male Pileated WoodpeckerBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Ahhh! Who doesn’t love a spring day? The birds are singing and the flowers are blooming and it’s just a beautiful free for all.  We’ve spent a lot of time in the garden recently, planting and weeding and the general stuff.  I was standing there in the garden, when a beautiful pileated woodpecker sailed by me and beyond, into the woods.  I suddenly thought of an interesting gardening experience from some years before – and in another garden. It involved a pileated woodpecker, a hollow tree, a mess of squirrels, and me.

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Hunting with Respect

A good hunter knows and respects property boundaries.by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

The first sounds of rifle shots ringing across the hills and hollows marks the end mushroom hunting season and puts a temporary damper on my beloved woodland walks.  For the next few weeks, Dean and I will stick a little closer to the house than we are accustomed to.  When we do dare to venture beyond our protective ridge, we’ll be sure to wear plenty of brightly colored clothing to avoid being accidentally shot at – something Dean and I are all too familiar with.

Tree Bombs and Praying Mantises

Falling acorns. Copyright Jill Hendersonby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

With the lovely fall weather moving in at last, we can once again spend most of our time outdoors without fainting from the heat or being attacked by voracious insects. While it would be nice to sit under the oak trees and relax in the slight breeze, the squirrels just won’t allow us to. Right this minute, there are thousands and thousands of ripening acorns in the oak trees and the squirrels, looking for early fall forage, have been sorting through them one by one.

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Nature Notes: Sinkholes and Springs in the Ozarks

Boze Mill Springby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Karst is crucial to the biodiversity of the Ozark region. At some point in its travel from heaven to sea, nearly three-quarters of the water in our rivers, streams, springs, aquifers, and wells have been filtered through this fractured limestone.  This massive system of water movement and erosion is what makes karst one of the most bountiful and fragile geologic formations in the world.  And while it’s beau  Some of the water that falls or runs across our hills will become forever locked below the surface in aquifers, but a larger portion of it reemerges somewhere on the surface, usually in the form of a spring or a seep, or a wet weather stream.

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The Sound of Nature

Barred Owl in the RainBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

This morning I woke at 4:00 am.  The crescent moon was high in the eastern sky casting it’s milky light into the open spaces on the edge of the woods. In the deep shadowy crevices the cicadas and crickets wound down the night’s exuberance in a fading farewell hum.  I stood at the open window, basking in the slightly cool breeze coming down the mountain and relishing the silence when suddenly a series of piercingly eerie shrieks broke the spell.  The suddenness of it startled me, but my instinct was answer with my own crazy whoop and scream, which would surely have woken the house. Instead, I silently searched the branches of the tall, dark oak beside the house for the Cheshire Cat of raptors.

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Violets and the Great Spangled Fritillary

Fritillaries on Milkweedby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

I know I promised this article a couple of weeks ago, but between blackberry pickin’, the garden and seed saving classes, I just couldn’t get back to it.  But while we were up berry pickin’, we saw lots of butterflies – including the Great Spangled Fritillary.  Of course, I love all butterflies, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Fritillaries because of their softly muted-orange coloration and complex wing patterns in brown, black and silver.  I had been wanting to entice more fritillaries to the garden but wasn’t sure what to do, so you can imagine my excitement when I realized I had already done it!

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Itching for Summer

By Orrling and Tomer S (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commonsby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Summer is a fabulous time to explore and hunt for wild edibles or to hike along a cool river, but people around these parts generally avoid venturing into overgrown and untamed places during the summer months because of the ticks and chiggers. How does one even begin to tell outsiders and visitors to our fair hills about the myriad of insects that inhabit our beloved Oz? I suppose if you’ve got a vicious sense of humor, you could just let them wade into the chest-deep grass and work it out later, because they’re not going to believe you anyway. Continue reading