Thursday, November 27, 2014

Todd Nature Reserve, Butler County, PA


On November 25th, brother Tim and I again visited the Todd Nature Reserve at Buffalo Twp., Butler County, Pennsylvania. Five years ago, to the day, we hiked the trails vowing to return someday. The initial 75 acres of land for the reserve was donated by land owner C. W. Clyde Todd in 1942.   Mr. Todd was a noted ornithologist and Curator of Birds at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. The reserve is now 334 acres and run by the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.  The reserve is a wonderful combination of steep ravines, hemlock groves, fast moving streams, deciduous trees and evergreen ferns and mosses.  10,000 year old Native American artifacts have been found on the site that once was the location of an active limestone quarry.
Among the interesting plants is this wintergreen plant with it's pea size fruit.  Also known as" teaberry", the leaves can be steeped in hot water to make a delicious mint flavored tea.  Wrigley Teaberry chewing gum got it's inspiration from this plant. The plant is also an important food source for various furry and feathered residents of the area.

These evergreen polypody ferns are abundant in the reserve and has it's own trail.
Polypody ferns (Polypodium vulgare) are also known as "Rock Cap" ferns because they decorate the tops of the rock outcrops,

Club Moss is another evergreen plant seen throughout the reserve. This Fan Club Moss (Diaphasiastrum digitatum)is an ancient moss that during the Carboniferous Age helped to create the coal fields of Butler County. Also known as "ground cedar"

Another coal builder club moss is this Fir Club Moss (Huperezia selago).

The rocky beds of Walton's and Hesselgesser's Runs, that flow thru the reserve, create a welcome sound that breaks the silence of the shady forest.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

And then there were none..............

On November 4th I released the last of the Gray Tree Frogs that I had raised from tadpoles. By my count it was number 8 from an original school of 10 tadpoles. Since I never found the remains of the other two I can only assume they are now eating insects inside the park's Nature Center.  I'll keep my eyes open for the escapees.
The tadpoles were raised on a pulverized combination of reptile pellets and shrimp flake fish food 50/50. They were kept in a 5 gallon aquarium filled with rain water with duck weed covering about 50% of the surface.  An air pump aerated the water and a aquarium light was used about 10 hours a day. The water was changed weekly to minimize the smell from the shrimp flakes. I added floating wood pieces so the frog-lets could climb out of the water when they became air breathers.
Tadpoles courtesy of Kevin Boner
Photo courtesy of J. Ormiston