Monday, March 22, 2010

Four: Tom and Jane Dustin Nature Preserve

I visited my fourth ACRES Nature Preserve yesterday. Before hiking a few trails, I attended a talk by Don Gorney about the 18 warblers that nest in NE Indiana. Don moved to Indy and is devoted to Lights Out Indy, a movement to turn out the lights on tall buildings which confuse many birds, including migrating warblers. These birds crash into the buildings and die. He estimates that more oven birds were killed by running into buildings in Indianapolis than were hatched.

As a very amateur birdwatcher, I decided to focus on finding a Yellow-throated Warbler because it nests in riparian woods with open canopy, primarily sycamore trees. We spend a lot of time in this habitat on the river. It should reach this area in mid-April. I'm also keeping an eye and ear out for the prothonotary warbler because it is such a beautiful bird.

After the talk, the naturalist from work joined me for walk on the short trails around the ACRES' office, the former home of Tom and Jane Dustin. The Dustins started ACRES Land Trust 50 years ago and were active environmentalists for years. They were inaugural members in the Indiana DNR's Conservationist Hall of Fame, along with Gene Stratton-Porter. The preserve borders Cedar Creek with the canyons formed by a glacial tunnel valley. It is also one of four designated Natural and Scenic rivers of Indiana. (I live on the other side of the creek.)

Despite the recent warm weather, it is still early spring and trees are identified by bark and other characteristics. The beech tree is easy to spot because of its smooth grey bark and the fact it holds its leaves all winter.

We saw a nice example of shelf fungus.

And numerous purple cress in full bud and

the first wildflower in bloom, Harbinger of Spring.

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