Friday, March 25, 2011

Birding on the Eastern Shore

This week, a group from Morris Arboretum took a three-day birding adventure to the eastern shore of Maryland. Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, located at the confluence of the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay was one of the primary destinations. This 2,285-acre island refuge is a major feeding and resting place for migrating and wintering waterfowl. More than 100,000 ducks, geese and swans seek sanctuary here, as do migrating and breeding songbirds and shorebirds.

The photo was taken by one of the trip takers, Douglas Marshall of the group:

The group also visited the 3,300 acre Chesapeake Farms where they observed a wide variety of wintering waterfowl including tundra swans and many ducks including pintails, green-wing teals, shovelers and other species.  The group saw lots of birds but some special ones were: the horned lark, snipes, horned grebes and lots of bald eagles.

Check out this great picture of an osprey taken by Lehman Kapp, one of the trip participants:

The trip was led by Ruth Pfeffer, an expert birder who teaches a number of birding classes at the Morris Arboretum.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sakura and Katsura at Morris Arboretum

Bob Gutowski, Director of Public Programs
Sakura, cherry blossom viewing, is a Japanese cultural tradition that has taken hold at the Morris Arboretum.  For me it starts with Prunus mume, Japanese Apricot, already in bloom near the Garden Railroad.  It carries a fine fragrance.  I heard it was in bloom today and took a walk after work to get acquainted with this new tree in the collection.

Prunus mume 'Shiro-Naniwa', Japanese Apricot, 2003-005-B
The Katsuratree, Cercidiphyllum japonicum,  is also putting on a fine show of flowering, although without petals.  Katsura are dioecious, having male and female trees.  This is a male.

See more photos from March 22, and post your own on Flickr:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lampyridae Live at Morris Arboretum

Bob Gutowski, Director of Public Programs
Predaceous, bioluminescent lavrvae lurk beneath the yellow-flowered dogwood, magnificent magnolias and narcissus multitudes on the first day of Spring.   Lamprydiae thrive at the Morris Arboretum.  You have seen them as adults, nocturnal summer fliers - the fireflies.  


I found this creature under a large hemlock (Tsuga canadense) in the collection.  It measured nearly one inch, had six legs and eleven segments.  I sent pictures to my "go to" source for insect ID A quick reponse told me it is an unidentified firefly (Lampridae) larvae.
About three dozen firefly species occur in Pennsylvania, with at least a few here at the Morris Arboretum. Perhaps this is the larvae of the state insect of Pennsylvania, Photuris pennsylvanica

I found lots of good Firefly information on Wikipedia:

... Fireflies hibernate over winter during the larval stage, some species for several years. Some do this by burrowing underground, while others find places on or under the bark of trees. They emerge in the spring. After several weeks of feeding, they pupate for 1 to 2.5 weeks and emerge as adults. The larvae of most species are specialized predators and feed on other larvae, terrestrial snails, and slugs. One such species is Alecton discoidalis which is found in Cuba. Some are so specialized that they have grooved mandibles that deliver digestive fluids directly to their prey. Adult diet varies. Some are predatory, while others feed on plant pollen or nectar.

... Female Photuris fireflies are known for mimicking the mating flashes of other "lightning bugs" for the sole purpose of predation. Target males are attracted to what appears to be a suitable mate, and are then eaten. For this reason the Photuris species are sometimes referred to as "femme fatale fireflies."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Extending Arboriculture to the Public

Yesterday, Bryan Thompson-Nowak, the Walter W. Root Endowed Arborist intern, presented his project, entitled “Extending Arboriculture to the Public".

Arborists commonly capture the attention of those passing by when they are performing their maintenance duties high in trees. People will stop and watch what the arborists are doing and often have many questions. Bryan's project aims to take capitalize on these sorts of regularly occurring "teachable moments" through an informational sandwich board that can easily travel to different sites with the arborists.  The information is layed out in an easy to understand manner with graphics to help explain the work going on without distracting the arborists in the trees..see images below.

One side of the panel graphically explains how an arborist climbs a tree, identifies the equipment being used and has a rope with a climbing "friction hitch" knot and carabiner attached for hands-on learning.

The opposite side has a top portion made with dry-erase board film that can be written on.  The arborists will write on this part of the panel to identify the common and scientific name of the tree that is receiving care as well as point out the type of work being done.  The bottom of the panel highlights some of the common maintenance issues that need remedied on young and mature trees.

Bryan did a great job presenting his project and putting together an informational learning panel that will take advantage of many teachable moments around the garden.  Next time you are at Morris Arboretum and see the arborists working in a tree, look for the sandwich board and learn a little more about what the arborists are doing.

Also, check out this great YouTube video showing how Bryan climbs through a tree:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Morris Arboretum Top of the List in AAA World

Morris Arboretum makes the list of Gardens in the Mid-Atlantic in AAA Magazine.  Take a look - a regional destination!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Low down at the Morris Arboretum

Bob Gutowski, Director of Public Programs 
March flowers can be found low down.  Hellebores, crocus, snow drops and more are poking up.  I took a walk on Saturday and got down to taking pictures.
Honey bees, Apis mellifera, were busy visiting Crocus on the slope above the Rose Garden on March 5th. I wonder if crocus honey tastes like saffron?

Snow Drops, Galanthus elwesii, are bigger flowered and have broader leaves than the more common G. nivalis. These are in the woods near Out on a Limb, March 5th.

Hellebore flowers are abundant in March throughout the Arboretum.  Look for them in shady spots.  This one on the edge of the woods by Out on a Limb caught my eye with its near-black leaves and dark, dark flowers.  The leaves will green up later.  March 5th. The little stem is Poison Ivy!  Learn to recognize this in your garden.

See more of my photos on Flickr: