How refreshing to have the cooler Fall season upon us when we can open our windows night and day to inhale the fresh autumn air of rural Missouri. In our Innsbrook Nature Group’s (IBK’ng) Fall newsletter we hope you find equally invigorating news about: when is peak foliage color at IBK, our next hike and social event, going nutty at IBK, the best time to plant wildflower seeds, avoid getting am-bushed on your property, the Great American Eclipse, ask a master naturalist about phenology, why there are more armadillos and bears in Missouri, and much more.
It’s always fun pulling this material together, often with the suggestions and help of our group followers and neighbors, as we learn so much in the process. We hope you too discover something of special interest that will help you to enjoy and appreciate all that Innsbrook and Nature has to offer us this Fall season.
When is Peak Fall Color at Innsbrook?
While the exact dates vary from year to year, it seems most years there are two local peaks of maximum foliage color, between the early turning maples and later oaks, that are separated by 1-2 weeks. As we write this on Oct. 3, the IBK forest understory is just starting to show color several days later than last year. You can read more about the seasonal cycles at IBK Phenology Log where Fall colors surged last year around Oct. 12 and then again near Oct. 23. We may be later this year with so few chilly evenings as of yet. A helpful guide to identify fallen leaves by tree type and color can be found on the MDC website at Common Fall Leaves .
Innsbrook Nature Group (IBK’ng) Fall Hike & Social
Group organizers Kath & Rich invite you to join us for a short hike along the Konstanz Trail near the peak of Fall color on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 3 pm. We will conclude with offering up refreshments and appetizers at our home deck overlooking the trail as it crosses the Lake Konstanz dam. We’ll also incite an informal discussion about state and national parks that any of us have visited or hope to in the future. We suggest parking at the Konstanz trailhead near the Stracks Church gate and then follow either the north or south side trail to lot 2210. (Note that the south trail can be plenty muddy after a rain.) For more trail information visit the great references produced by Innsbrook Resort’s POA at Trail Maps. For those not hiking, meet up with us around 3:30 pm at 2210 N. Konstanz Drive. Please RSVP to email@example.com.
Blessing of the Animals is on Oct. 4, Saint Francis Feast Day
One of our favorite passages from a St. Francis Prayer for Animals website is “We remember St. Francis as a friend and protector to all animals, wild and domestic. We’ve heard stories of how beasts and birds were susceptible to the charm of St. Francis’ gentle ways, how they were companions to him and often felt protected by him. It is said birds listened so reverently to his sermon along the road near Bevagna that Francis chided himself for not having thought to preach to them before. He also found great delight and solace in simple things such as the rising sun or flowers, all aspects of nature.” We encourage you on this day to think about the many creatures with whom we share IBK. We can truly bless them by learning more about them to help us live in harmony the best we can as we encroach upon their native habitat.
Is Fall the Best Time to Plant Wildflower Seeds?
Several IBK property owners have been collecting wildflower seeds this summer. With the wet summer we noticed far more wildflowers and especially butterfly-friendly milkweed. Fall is reported to be the best time to plant native Missouri seeds around your lot, but just be sure to wait until after the first frost. We found the following website brought to our attention by Cindy Bowers to be a great resource for how to be successful with your wildflower seeds: American Meadows Wildflowers.
Don’t Get Am-bush-ed on Your Property
Bush honeysuckle is our favorite invasive plant to “pick” on as it is very noticeable in the Fall when it’s a perfect time to walk your property. Bush honeysuckle gets bright red berries in Sept. and Oct. which makes it easy to identify. To remove smaller plants just pull them out by their roots. For larger ones try cutting the stem at ground level and then use a sponge to cover with stump with an appropriate herbicide. If it gets a start on your property, in a few years you will be sorry, then your neighbors and rest of us will be soon thereafter! For help visit Honeysuckle Reference or contact IBK horticulturist Keith Thompson .
Summer Star Party
Our first star party on Aug. 6 was a success in both weather and attendance with over 100 sky watchers coming by during the evening to view the crescent moon, Mars, Saturn, International Space Station (ISS), and Milky Way galaxy. A special thanks to local amateur astronomers Lyra Kniffen and Doug Kniffen for bringing their impressive telescopes out for us to enjoy. During the event we handed out an evening sky map at Sky Map which can be viewed then printed out for each month of the year. We were also asked about where to find transit times for the ISS: try Space News. We hope to do this again next summer, perhaps at the new amenity center some evening when there is not a concert. Continued thanks to all those property owners who keep their outdoor lights to a minimum for preserving the rural dark skies that many of us moved out here to enjoy.
Great American Eclipse
Don’t forget that IBK will be near the centerline of the path of totality and darkness for a rare total solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. This is a not-to-be-missed once-in-a-lifetime occurrence for most of us. The St. Louis region is emerging as a national center for eclipse watching activities because maximum duration will occur near midday with the Sun high up in the sky. Volunteers are sought to help organize an eclipse watch party at IBK where we plan to secure protective solar viewing glasses. We hope to have a guest speaker at our 2017 Nature Chautauqua prepare us for the event, as well as a photographer to instruct us on how to capture it digitally. Until then visit Missouri Eclipse for more information.
Going Nutty at IBK
Those of you who were at IBK during late September know that we experienced a torrent of falling oak acorns and hickory nuts. We don’t ever recall hearing, seeing, and yes even feeling as many nuts falling in our forests. There are a number of folklore myths and scientific explanations about why this is so. Some say it means a severe winter. Here’s an article about the synchronous periodic production of large tree seed crops which is called masting: Northern Woodlands on Acorns. We like to think that Nature is just wise enough in using a wet summer to plant the seeds for future growth that can compensate for recent summers that were much drier, hotter, and stressful on our forests. Here’s a link to a MDC field guide to help identify all those different nuts: MDC Tree Nuts
Do Trees Have Their Own Social Network?
This past Summer many property owners reported their trees were losing leaves due to the jumping oak gall disease. Our lot was covered by both oak and maple leaves falling in late August as if it was already Fall. We wonder if this was connected to the acorn masting? Peter Wohlleneben, a German forest ranger who authored the book “The Hidden Life of Trees” has concluded that trees in a forest have their own way of communicating and helping out each other during times of disease or stress. To learn more about this fascinating work read the NYT article at Social Networks of Trees. You may never walk through a forest again without sensing connections once hidden.
Innsbrook Lake Quality
This was the first Summer in several years that our many lakes remained at near full levels due to all the rain. However, several lakes were less clear due to all the runoff, some of which was likely compounded by a few property owners clearing their lots from their chalets or homes all the way down to the shoreline. Each summer a group of volunteers, working with the Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources, tests the water of several lakes at IBK. The goal of this program is to record the trends of several parameters that impact the lake ecosystems. One parameter is lake clarity. Several of our newer lakes have very clear water. Alpine often has visibility of over 10 feet! The good news is that the clear water makes for some of the best recreational swimming and boating in Missouri. The less than good news is that this clarity means that more sunlight can penetrate to deeper depths causing an abundance of weeds in the shallows. Jeff Yegge, Innsbrook’s POA Lakes Manager, and his team of volunteers have been monitoring this for a number of years. In our Spring newsletter we hope to share some of the results from recent years. Thanks to Jeff and volunteers for all the work they do to maintain our lake water quality!
Teen Stream Teams
We are seeking a few adults and their teenagers who may want to add a worthwhile community activity to their college application by organizing a stream team at IBK. The idea for next Spring is to undertake a wet nature hike along the Charrette Creek as it flows through IBK, especially near the road to the amenity center and then down into the beautiful Tyrolean Valley. We’ll note which areas need special attention for trash clean up, erosion control, or just monitoring. Some years ago members of the Innsbrook Garden Club conducted a stream clean up which pulled trash, tires and even appliances out of the stream that had been dumped decades ago before Innsbrook was established. You can see what other Stream Teams across Missouri do by visiting Missouri Stream Teams. To help us get organized please email Kath Kremer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ask a Missouri Master Naturalist about Phenology
Allison Volk, an IBK property owner and Missouri Master Naturalist shares the following with us.
While you are walking on one of the many trails at Innsbrook, do you often wonder what that trail looked like in the Winter, Spring or even last week or last year? Or do you mentally say to yourself “I just don’t remember seeing as many Virginia Bluebells or falling acorns at this time of year”? If so, you may have the making of a phenologist: someone who contributes scientific data that has been gathered from the same area over a period of time.
The data is shared on a website of the USA National Phenology Network at USANPN . This network is used by the scientific community to examine what is going on in Nature all over the world. If more people add their observations or gathered facts into this network the scientists will be able to see real time what global changes, like climate change, may be having an impact at local levels.
The IBK Nature Group already has a page dedicated to phenology at IBK Phenology Log with a multiple-year list of observations people have contributed to from across IBK. If you have interest in contributing your own observations let’s organize a coordinated phenology effort for IBK. We could pick one or more trails to use as an outdoor classroom and in addition to taking notes on what we observe we could also track the movement of Bush Honeysuckle and its impact of the native species. To become part of the IBK phenology team of citizen scientists please send us a note to email@example.com.
More Armadillos, Bears, Nutria, and Cougars call Missouri home
A “St. Louis on the Air” program this summer on local NPR affiliate KWMU featured an interview with Tom Meister, Wildlife Biologist from the Missouri Dept. of Conservation. Tom confirmed that we are indeed seeing more armadillos, cougars, nutria, and even black bears across Missouri. To learn why listen to this fascinating discussion visit KWMU on Missouri Wildlife. We are still hopeful to someday spot and photograph Warren, the black bear previously sighted in Warren County who must be an expert swimmer or cunning hitchhiker to make it across the Missouri River.
Why Buy Firewood Locally?
A reminder as you stock up with firewood for the Winter, please source it locally. This will protect IBK from non-native insects and diseases that might hitchhike on firewood such as the very destructive emerald ash borer. Note that some commercial stores bring in wood from other states. According to the MDC, it’s best to get wood from within 50 miles of where you will use it. Innsbrook’s services department can help with this including cutting up and recycling your own downed trees into firewood.
Support our State Parks
A reminder that on the Nov. 8 ballot is Amendment 1, the 10-year renewal of the Missouri state parks, soils, and water sales tax. If you love the great Missouri outdoors, and especially our numerous parks, please consider voting yes on this amendment. More information on this amendment can be found at www.soilwaterparks.com. For news about all of our state parks, which are managed by the Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR), visit https://mostateparks.com/.
The Nature Lover’s Bookshelf
We hope you have seen our reading and reference guide list on Nature at Nature Reading List. Please add your favorites and recommendations in a comment field. We are seeking a volunteer to help us curate and maintain this page along with the other resources pages.
Closing Nature Quote & Photo
Hiking around Glacier National Park last month we did not encounter any bears, except at the very end on the souvenir “Advice from a Bear” from writer, artist, and fellow nature lover Ilan Shamir. Ilan channels the voice of nature in advice from a bear as:
“Live Large. Climb beyond your limitations. When life gets hairy, grin and bear it. Eat well. Live with the seasons. Take a good long nap. Look after your honey!”
Great advice for us all to live by!