Monday, July 2, 2012

Anna Brand Hammer Nature Preserve, Wells County
      Just a few miles away from our last stop, Acres Along the Wabash, is the Anna Brand Hammer Nature Preserve.  It is a small preserve, a forest oasis surrounded by agricultural fields, with just 1/2 mile of trails.  Perfect for a quick respite with nature! 
There are many types of trees growing here, including red and white oaks,
 hickory, cherry, beech and maple trees.  
A small stream, currently dried up due to Indiana's drought conditions, would normally
wind through the forest, providing amusement for the several species of salamanders
that live in this preserve.
      Besides the trees and salamanders, the kids and I saw evidence of several other living creatures on our hike...
These impressive tunnels have been chewed into rotten wood, probably by some
type of beetle larvae. It makes a very interesting texture, don't you agree?
Shelf fungi like these generally attach to and feed on decaying wood. I think it's 
fascinating thatthese are covered with a thin layer of moss.  Moss can grow anywhere!   
The web of a funnel weaver spider.  
We found this one, then upon further investigation realized
we were surrounded by literally dozens of webs like these.
Funnel weaver spiders are very common in the midwest.  They build sturdy, horizontal webs
with an open-ended funnel at one end.  The spiders sit in the funnel and wait for an insect
to become entangled. They then rush out of their funnel, subdue their lunch, and retreat back
 into the funnel to enjoy their meal.  

      And of course, we saw several other interesting sights as well...

This patch of cleavers creates a pretty visual texture and pattern with it's star-shaped leaves.
"Cleavers" is a general name for climbing or sprawling plants that are sticky.  Their leaves and stems have fine hairs tipped with tiny hooks, making them cling to clothes and fur much like velcro.

Hank calls this a "potato chip tree."
 He says the bark reminds him of many, many crispy potato chips.
 However, he refused my offer of a taste test.
I was struck by the many different shades of green found in this
photograph.  I count at least
Juniper cones, like tiny wooden flowers.
      When we reached the end of our 1/2 mile hike through the Anna Brand Hammer preserve, my kids had only one request..."to the nearest gas station, Mom!  We're hungry for some potato chips!"  

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