Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Asherwood Nature Preserve, Wabash County

     From a family affair to a solo flight.  On my previous hiking adventure I had the pleasure of being accompanied by my whole family.  The day I visited the Asherwood nature preserve in Wabash county, I went alone.  At first I was disappointed that my children would choose to bail on dear old mom...but I very soon came to realize that hiking alone provided blessed calmness and quiet. 

Asherwood preserve straddles Asher Creek. 
  The Asherwood Environmental Science Center is a 160-acre environmental science education facility that has been owned by the Marion Community Schools, Marion, Indiana since 1974 and is currently being operated by Acres Land Management.  Asherwood is one of Acres's several partner preserves.

One of three ponds found at Asherwood.  This is called "Frog Pond."  While here I was serenaded by the deep, throaty croak of several bullfrogs.  Although I saw none, I know I was being watched.  
     Besides the creek, streams, ponds, deep ravines, narrow ridge tops, and upland and floodplain forests, Asherwood is also home to an outdoor aviary.  I was startled, but pleasantly surprised, when the trail led me to these guys...
Red Tailed Hawk.
Nickname: Chicken hawk.  They received this nickname after being blamed for taking poultry farmers' chickens, although they rarely prey on standard sized chickens.
Great Horned Owl.
The Great Horned Owl is referred to as “the tiger of the sky” because of its fierce nature and ability to capture a wide variety of prey that may be larger or heavier than the owl. The Great Horned Owl is one of the few species that occasionally preys on skunks.
Barred Owl.
This owl's common nicknames include Black-eyed Owl, Swamp Owl, and Laughing Owl.  The Barred Owl is a vocal bird and can make many different sounds from hoots to screams, and barks to laughter. Its most distinctive call sounds somewhat like the phrase, "Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all."  
Turkey Vulture.
I've always known these birds as "Turkey Buzzards".  They are quite common around here especially where there's fresh roadkill.  However, the word "buzzard" actually refers to several species of hawks. (So the Red Tailed hawk is more of a buzzard than this guy.)  The mis-naming of vultures as buzzards probably dates back to the arrival of the first English colonists to America. There are no vultures of any type in England, so it is logical that these pioneers probably gave the common term "buzzard" to any large flying birds.

     I was sorry my kiddos missed meeting my fascinating feathered friends. But I confess, I did not miss playing referee all day between Miss Bossy Pants and Mr. Wild Man-wannabe.  In fact, without distractions I was able to become more sensitive to the sights and sounds around me...

Like this amazing pattern of dappled shadow and light in a sandy stream bed.
And these teeny-tiny, perfectly shaped leaves.  
Or the combination of reflected colors and shapes of the sky and tree, combined with the dappling of shadow and light in this small water pool.
     I also became aware of an abundance of different textures present in my surroundings. As an art teacher, I teach about two categories of texture: tactile (or actual) texture that you can sense with your hands when you feel it.  And visual texture that you can sense with your eyes when you see it. The forest is filled with tactile textures that I attempted to capture with my camera and translate into visual texture.  
Submerged old leaves covered with duck weed at Frog Pond.
Wild Gooseberries.
In spite of those spiky barbs, wild gooseberries are, indeed, edible.
You must cook them first to soften those spikes.
A cluster of ginkgo leaves.
The Ginkgo is a living fossil.  Fossilized plants recognizably related to the modern
Ginkgo date back as far as the Permian period,  270 million years ago!
I love the layers of texture in this photo:
 the large rock plates on the left, the rippling stream in the center,
and the patch of pebbly stones on the right.
Peeling bark of the American Sycamore tree.
 I think it looks a bit like camouflage, don't you?
Yellow Sweet Clover.  

     I began my hike a bit miffed at my offspring for straying from our planned hiking day.  However, in retrospect, I am grateful for the opportunity to experience nature free from distractions, in peace and quiet, and at my own pace.  I WILL be doing this again!

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