Dear Innsbrook Nature & Wildlife Enthusiasts,
Welcome back with the Spring 2015 edition of our Innsbrook community newsletter on Living in Harmony with Nature & Wildlife. In this our 4th issue we share info about a guided spring nature hike, Great Backyard Bird Count results, wild neighbors and alien invaders, groundhogs Phil and Phyllis, spring nature journal entries, and a guest blog on bird watching from IBK’s resident Wild Bird Guy Steve Taylor. We hope you find something of interest or inspiration that reminds you how lucky we are to have an Innsbrook that showcases what makes outdoor Missouri so special.
Naturalist Led Nature Hike on April 26
We were excited to learn that due to our group’s enthusiasm and request, the Innsbrook POA will be organizing a series of naturalist led hikes along our many nature trails during 2015. The first hike will be on Earth Day weekend Sunday, April 26, at 10:00 am along the Tyrolean Trail below the Alpine Dam. The hike will be led by Leslie Limberg who is a Missouri Master Naturalist that is passionate about Missouri wildlife stewardship all seasons of the year. The hike will be in two sections, each of about an hour in length with a break in the middle, so you can choose to do one or both sections. We will meet at the trailhead parking lot just below the dam. Remember to bring tick spray, water, and apparel for rain or shine.
Thawing Out From Our Winter Valentine’s Day Hike
Despite frigid temperatures with the wind chill dropping into the single digits, a dozen IBKers braved the elements for brisk 2.5 mile hike from the farmhouse to the site of the new amenity center and back. The trail took us behind the horse pastures – where the horses looked cold too – to alongside the meandering Charrette Creek. Here’s a photo of our well-insulated team warming up with hot chocolate to prepare for the hike.
Great Backyard Winter Bird Count
It was another great year for the annual Audubon sponsored global bird count. According to the Audubon website, people from over 100 countries submitted a record 147,265 bird checklists. There were over 5,000 species reported, representing nearly half the probable bird species in the world. There were 5 submissions from our own Warren County. We are proud to say that at Lot 2210 we counted the most species; 19 in 15 minutes. Although we have to admit that we started the counting period just as we witnessed a bald eagle and immediately after filling the bird feeder! Check out the results at Great Backyard Bird Count.
Wild Neighbors: We Choose to Live in Their World
If they’re cute we call wild animals charming “critters” and spend hours watching them as they go about their business and raising their young. Otherwise, they get called “pests” and then unfortunately some call the exterminator. Please remember that the deer, raccoons, groundhogs, lizards, foxes, squirrels, opossum, coyotes, snakes, frogs, turtles, rabbits, owls, geese, beavers, and other critters we have at IBK are the native residents, and that many of us moved out here to be closer to them for better or worse. That huge black snake may be scary the first time you spot it, but at least you won’t have mice living in your BBQ grill. The hawk that rips at your turf may be chasing moles out. We personally try hard to live and let live with only a few relapses we confess to having over our years at IBK. For more information on cohabitating with your wild neighbors visit the Humane Society site http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/wild_neighbors.
Goundhogs Phil and Phyllis
This year a pair of groundhogs, aka woodchucks, have chosen our rock landscaping wall as their very own resort rental, and we have vowed to let them be. We call them Phil and Phyllis with a photo below of shy Phil (we think) guarding the burrow entrance. Here’s nine things we discovered from National Geographic about groundhogs, with a few that may test our vow of living in harmony with nature: http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2014/01/31/9-things-you-didnt-know-about-groundhogs/. Check back this summer to see how we are doing!
Alien Invasion: Bush Honeysuckle
A plant that is definitely not native or harmonious to Missouri, Bush Honeysuckle, is easy to spot as it is one of the first to start greening in the spring. While vine honeysuckle is a native, the bush variety is an invasive species brought from Asia in the mid 1800’s for landscaping and erosion control. Infestations of honeysuckle crowds out the forest understory, blocking sunlight for other native plants and competing for soil moisture. The tubular white flowers attract pollinators away from the natives, while the berries produced are carbohydrate rich and do not provide migrating birds with the high-fat food that they need for long flights. If left unchecked they can quickly overrun a property or entire forest as shown in the video at http://stophoneysuckle.org/. Try pulling it out by hand for small plants and for larger ones cut it off at the stump. We occasionally hike with clippers! Visit MO Dept of Conservation – Control Bush Honeysuckle for more information on keeping this bush off your property.
Chirps from the Bird Man Steve Taylor who pens our featured guest column this issue:
What a great time for bird watching! Who can ignore the joyous cacophony of the birds singing in the early morning, heralding in spring and a calling for a mate for the season? Both the year-round residents and the migrants sing: male Cardinals singing high in a tree or the warbling of the male Bluebird. Or the migrants from South America, like the Tree Swallows, Purple Martins and Barn Swallows, and the Eastern Phoebe, (the bird that will nest under decks and porches).
Ever notice the “Pair Bonding” of the Cardinal? A simple chirp by both the male and female after pairing–up for the season: Chirp (are you there?) chirp (yes, I’m over here, where are you now?) etc. Each pair has its own unique spacing in the chirps to avoid confusion. Also, there is the bonding-call of the Carolina Wren, another year-round resident. The male with is bellowing tweedle-tweedle or tea-kettle call followed immediately or often started before he is finished, by the females chatter.
And don’t forget the Hummingbirds; they typically start arriving or passing through Innsbrook about the middle of April. You can track their migration at: www.hummingbirds.net /map.html.
If you feed Hummingbirds; do not forget the 4 parts water to 1 part white table sugar ratio. And change the nectar 2-3 times a week (more often in the hot and humid weather) if possible to avoid the sugar water molding.
These are just a few of the birds that can be seen here at Innsbrook because of the diverse habitat. So find your favorite spot to sit and relax and enjoy all that IBK offers to our birds!
Village Garden Club
The Village of Innsbrook’s popular Garden Club will be hosting its first meeting of the new year on Friday, April 17, followed by an annual plant sale on Saturday, May 9. The feature of this year’s plant sale will be shade plants that are deer resistant. Helpful hints about deer-proofing rural landscapes can be found on their website at http://www.gardenclubatinnsbrook.org/.
Spring Nature Journal
The book “Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You” by Clare Leslie and Charles Roth has helped us to see a totally different Innsbrook right outside our door. Here’s what we noted in our journal this past month of many firsts: first bluebird spotted atop their new home (3/6); first moths fly on the first day above 70 degrees and on the very same day the last lake ice melts (3/9); squirrels cavorting in the forest canopy (3/10); first Geese pairing up on Lake Konstanz (3/11); first bat spotted of the year (3/12); first wasps and flies come out (3/13); first bluebird nest appears (3/15); spring peeper frogs heard singing (3/16); daffodils pass 2 inches tall (3/17); worms crossing roads overnight after the first day above 80 degrees (3/18); first crocus flowers emerge (3/22); daffodils in full bloom coinciding with the last snow and freeze of the season (3/27); frogs crossing roads overnight in the rain and some get left behind (3/31); first wild dogwoods bloom in the forest (3/31); and first mayflowers emerge on the forest floor (4/4). Some of these entries from this year are running a week ahead of last year’s which had an unusually harsh winter. While these dates often vary from year to year what’s so important to note is that some emerge based on the temperature while others do so based on the duration of sunlight in the day. If you are a light based critter but your food supply is based on temperature, a late spring can leave you scrounging for food.
Updates on Website and Field Guide
We hope to start publishing our newsletter to our new website where we can share photos, archive editions, and provide a community blog for sharing your wildlife sightings and journal entries. Our Winter newsletter was kindly posted by Innsbrook and is available at http://www.innsbrook-resort.com/blog/guest-blog-ibk-wildlife-and-nature-enthusiasts-1. We are also collaborating with Innsbrook to produce a pocket field guide to the many natural amenities that are open for business 365 days a year for all of us to enjoy.
Closing Nature Quote
“Every spring is the only spring, a perpetual astonishment” – by the British novelist Ellis Peters.