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Earth Day Volunteering at the Schrader Center — April 20, 2013

IMG_1225Like the outdoors? Want to spend a little time helping improve the exterior grounds at the local nature center?

Schrader Center staff will host a volunteer work event in honor of Earth Day on Saturday, April 20 from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm at the Schrader Center. We’ll be pulling privet, and other invasive species, planting trees and clearing walkways, cleaning up around the butterfly garden, and more! We encourage volunteers all of ages to participate for any amount of time! Volunteers should wear long sleeves, work pants and boots. Work gloves will be provided, but volunteers may bring their own. Coffee, tea and snacks will be complimentary.

Bird Walk — We’ll start the day out with a morning bird walk hosted by Brooks Bird member and Bethany College Professor of Biology, Jay Buckelew, from 9:00 -10:00 am. Meet in the lower parking lot of the Schrader Center near the trail head a few minutes before 9:00 am.

observatoryatoglebay

Astronomy Day Activities — Other activities include Oglebay Astronomy Club’s Astronomy Day program with two sessions. The daytime session will be held from 1:00 to 4:00 pm at the Speidel Observatory and includes solar viewing (weather permitting– many sunspots are currently visible), meteorite display, space science demonstrations and activities, and Speidel Observatory tours. The nighttime session will be held from 8:00 to 11:00 pm, also at the Speidel Observatory, and will include telescope astronomy (weather permitting–Jupiter is spectacular now!), night sky tour of the constellations and special Speidel Observatory tours.

Call the Schrader Center at 304-242-6855 for more information.

Sap is Flowing at the Schrader Center!

GmodrillingstationBy Erica McGrath–The sap season has begun at the Schrader Center and naturalists have been hard at work preparing for our upcoming harvest of maple syrup. During the warmer months, maple trees produce starches, which they store in their roots throughout the winter. As spring approaches the tree converts these starches to sugars which are carried to the rest of the tree in a fluid called sap. Sap flows through a portion of the outer trunk called the sapwood which is pressurized during the spring when temperatures rise above freezing during the day and drop below freezing at night. These fluctuations cause the sap to rise and allow us to safely collect sap without damaging the tree.

This sap, when collected and processed becomes the maple syrup we all enjoy. Here at the Schrader Center, we are putting the finishing touches on this year’s first batch of maple syrup. Sap was collected from our local stand of Sugar Maples (Acer saccharum) and processed by boiling the sap in a metal boiling machine called an evaporator. The evaporator boils away the water from the sap and leaves behind sticky, sweet syrup. It takes about forty gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. In the video below, naturalist Greg Park discusses the final steps of producing a batch of syrup:    To learn more about maple syrup production and its history, and to enjoy a hot pancake breakfast, be sure to come out to our Maple Sugaring Day on Saturday March 23. The event is held at Camp Russel in Oglebay Park and runs from 9am to 1pm. Admission: $7/$6 OI members. Call 304-242-6855 to book a one-hour tour.

Cupcakes for Volunteers!

Oglebay Falls By Jake Francis, Director of Environmental Education–One thing that sets the Ohio Valley apart from other places I have lived is the intense pride that many of us hold for our natural resources.  It might have something to do with the massive body of water that we use as a reference for almost everything, or perhaps it has something to do with the rich tradition of sportsmanship in this valley. But I believe it has a lot to do with the amazing and unique city parks that are inextricably tied to our city’s identity.

In my two years here, I have met students who are willing to slave in the heat of summer working to conserve our forests, young adults shaping our food landscape and bringing green space to our downtown, and octogenarians who have given their entire life over to the our city parks and Oglebay Institute.  And, as I was trying to write a post about our upcoming volunteer opportunities, all I could think of was how much thanks we owe to you all!

In light of that, I want to share a couple of organized volunteer days we will be having at the Schrader Center which will focus on doing some much-needed maintenance on our trail systemphoto2 and continuing our battle with invasive exotic plant species that are threatening our forests.  We will be holding workdays from 9am-3pm on February 23 and April 20.  We will have all of the tools needed and can provide work gloves, as well as some hot beverages, snacks, and congratulatory cupcakes to thank you all for everything you do.  If you can’t make those days, don’t fret. You can call me at the Schrader Center at 304-242-6855, and I’ll make sure you get a cupcake, but you’ll have to spend some time discussing birding, botany, herpetology, or the like!  I hope you can forgive this departure from my normally scientific blog posts, and that you can come see us in the next couple of months!

What: Volunteer Days at the Schrader Center

When: February 23 & April 20

Where: Schrader Center, Oglebay Park

Time: 9am-3pm

Info: 304-242-6855

 Chocolate_cupcakes

 

Last Trail Maintenance Day for 2012

Last volunteer Trail Maintenance Day for 2012 will be this Saturday, Dec. 15 from 10am-12pm at the Schrader Center. We’re continuing to focus on the removal of invasive exotic species, such as European Privet, and to clean up the trail for visitors. Volunteers should wear long sleeves, work pants and boots. Work gloves will be provided, but volunteers may bring their own. Coffee, tea and snacks will be provided. Call the Schrader Center at 304-242-6855 for more information.

IMG_2771

Winter Birding — Less Foliage, Better Spotting

winteratoglebay4.jpgBy Jake Francis, Director of Environmental Education — Have you ever tried to start birding only to be overwhelmed by the shear number of field marks, shapes, and calls of the spring migration? I know that in my case keeping track of every possible spring bird is a huge task to say the least, and one that seems insurmountable to novice birders.  On the other hand, the winter is a spectacular time for beginning birders to hone their identification and spotting abilities on a smaller set of familiar birds.  The lack of foliage and the fact that birds congregate in mixed flocks around fruit-bearing plants makes finding birds and getting a good look at them particularly easy.

Prunus_serotina

Black Cherry

Start by searching out black cherry trees (Prunus serotina), poison ivy vines (Toxicodendron radicans), and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quniquefolia), and visit them in the early morning.  You should be able to find Waxwings, Thrushes, Bluebirds, Catbirds, and Warblers.  Additionally beginning birders should look for coniferous trees which attract many northern birds that prefer their seeds.  Some of these northern birds are only in our area during the winter (e.g. Siskins, Crossbills, and Kinglets), and add some challenge throughout the winter.

Cedar Wax Wing

Cedar Wax Wing

Finally there are many winter bird counts that occur during the month of December that give novices a chance to interact with, and learn from more seasoned ornithologists.  This year the Christmas Bird Count, sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is free to all participants   There are many circles in our area to be surveyed including Oglebay Park (December 22)  and Buffalo Creek (December 16).  Interested parties can contact Greg Park or Jake Francis at the Schrader Center, 304-242-6855, for more information on the counts and birding in general.

GigaPan Magazine Selects Schrader Center as Finalist

GigaPan Magazine recently selected one the Schrader Center’s GigaPan photos as a finalist in the Nearby Nature “gigablitz” from this past winter.  Check out the winning Hardwood Ridge GigaPan here!

Some of the juror’s comments about the Schrader Center’s GigaPan:  “captures nature’s resilience to human modification.” · “evidence of the continuation of plant life cycles – mosses, fungi, and insects are working to break down the logs so that other things might grow there.”

GigaPans are digital images with billions of pixels, with remarkably crisp and vivid detail, all captured in the context of a single brilliant photo. Using a series of robotic camera mounts to capture photos using almost any digital camera, GigaPan Stitch Software automatically combines hundreds of images taken into a single image.

Lady bug…wait…Butterfly…no, wait…Lightning bug!

To begin our day we worked on saving our newly planted trees by adding blue tubes to the top of their protective coverings to stop deer from eating them. We covered up Red Oaks, American Beeches, and Sugar Maples; we didn’t have to cover up the cherries because the deer leave them alone due to the cyanide that is produced in that family of trees.

During our hike we found a lightning bug, which we were unable to identify. We used www.discoverlife.org to find out it was in the genus Photuris. The Photuris lightning bug was consuming another lightning bug likely of the genus Photinus. Female Photuris lightning bugs are able to mimic the blinking patterns of other female lightning bug species to lure in males and consume their faces (and the rest of their bodies). A quick fact is that you can tell different species of lightning bugs apart by the flashing pattern of their abdomen.

After we identified the lightning bug, we went farther down the trail. Walking down the creek, we discovered a mole… a disoriented mole… a “rolly” mole.  The mole was rolling around in the road and was almost hit by two cars.  Brave and courageous Erica walked into the street and saved the mole by putting it in her shoe and transferring it to a safer location.

Our hike ended with a visit to the waterbot located in Waddel’s Run, you can see the data we collected at www.waterbot.org, select the waterbot labeled 0015.

On our way back to the Schrader Center we discovered that our rolly mole had rolled away. ~Jr Rangers Trail Team