Summer 2014 Newsletter

Dear Innsbrook Nature & Wildlife Enthusiasts,

Here’s the Summer edition of our community newsletter on living in harmony with nature & wildlife at Innsbrook. We hope you find something of interest, or can forward it to someone whom might. Please let us know if you failed to receive our Winter or Spring Newsletter which we can resend. If you wish to be removed from this quarterly mailing, just reply with a note to remove and it is done.

Forest Ecology Talk and Nature Hike

Join us on Saturday morning, September 20, from 10 am – 12 noon for a presentation on Missouri’s Forest Ecology followed by a guided hike along Innsbrook’s Lake Konstanz nature trail. Our guest speaker will be Hank Stelzer from the University of Missouri Forestry Extension who will share a history of Missouri Forests along with what to look for in a healthy forest ecosystem we so value at Innsbrook.  Our featured nature hike will be along the gentle Lake Konstanz Trail which in about 1.5 miles passes through several micro-biomes with relatively diverse flora and fauna. We hope to have time before and during the hike for open discussion. Come prepared for rain or shine with morning refreshments provided. Sorry, no four-legged companions this time, even though the trail travels just above the IBK Lachenhund Dog Park. Please RSVP to receive location and parking info.

Wildlife Watching.

For unknown reasons, we saw far fewer goslings on our lakes and turtles on our roads this Spring. However, there have been plenty sightings of turkey, red fox, groundhogs, owls, beavers, bats, racoons, armadillos, skunks, hawks, opossum, blue herons, coyotes, cottontail rabbits, bob white quail, black snakes, and especially twin fawns this year. What have we missed that you have sighted? We are truly blessed to offer habitat and refuge for so many of God’s creatures! For those who have seen a few too many racoons, a recent IBK mailing from Tracy summarized non-lethal options as does the Humane Society’s Wild Neighbors website at http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/wild_neighbors/ . Sadly, we have also witnessed a few stray or abandoned dogs chasing and surviving on wildlife which encouraged us to donate a portable Pet Chip Scanner to Innsbrook to help more quickly reunite lost pets with their owners. As a reminder, venomous Osage copperhead snakes are in the area so when hiking be careful where you step, especially around rocky hillsides and forest edges. Please remember they too have a role in our ecosystem, most importantly controlling field mice which are known to transport ticks who feed on them and create Lyme disease, even more so than deer which often get the blame.

Oak Tree Decline

If you think the canopy tops of many our magnificent Oak trees are not as full this year nor casting as much cooling shade on your chalet, home or lot, you are not alone. In response to a few sad looking trees on my property, Keith Thompson sent this reference which explains the likely disease caused most often by environmental stress: http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/fidls/oakdecline/oakdecline.htm. While this summer has been mild and wet, it follows two years of a very hot and dry summer then an unusually cold winter.

Master Naturalist Classes

The St. Louis Community College has announced their Fall 2014 Master Naturalist Classes at their Meramec Campus in Kirkwood. Many of the classes are an easy one-evening two-hour investment with topics that include beekeeping, bird watching, bats, urban gardening, climate change, and edible mushrooms. Class descriptions can be found at http://www.stlcc.edu/Document_Library/Cont_Ed/CE-Spring-2014-Master-Naturalist.pdf.

Birds of a Feather Together

Innsbrook’s volunteer bluebird monitors report so far this year that over 600 chicks fledged, and the season is about over. Perhaps this explains why Cooper’s Hawks also appear to be thriving as they prey on songbirds (oh no!) and are especially attracted to lots with bird feeders. A fine on-line resource for old or new birdwatchers is http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/coopers_hawk/id . Quiz: do you know why some male cardinals are bald headed?

A Fungus Among Us

The giant puffball mushrooms have started showing lately.  They range from 8-20”, but are extra large this year due to the above average rainfall.  From the Missouri Department of Conservation: When young and growing, the puffball’s surface looks and feels like white leather and its inside resembles the texture and color of a marshmallow. As the puffball matures, its color changes to a yellowish-green and the surface texture becomes papery. The inside changes into a powdery mass of almost microscopic spores. One reference says that an average-sized puffball could contain around 7 trillion spores.  The spores are released through breaks in the mature puffball’s outer skin. Raindrops hitting the skin will cause spores to be released as will animals or people bumping into it. I try to avoid those clouds, thinking that nothing good could come of breathing fungal spores.

Adventures in Nature

The Missouri Department of Conservation publishes bi-monthly a fun nature magazine for families with kids called “Xplor – Adventures in Nature”.  It has nature related news, puzzles, activities, pictures and cartoons.  The last one we picked up at the Powder Valley Nature Center in Kirkwood had a field guide on dragonflies and damselflies where we learned these are insect eating machines good to have around our docks and decks.  It’s free to residents of in Missouri who can subscribe online at http://www.xplormo.org/node/2618.

Village Views Nature Notes

Don’t forget that the Nature Note column in Innsbrook’s weekly Village Views Newsletter provides extended information one topic at a time with the benefit of photographs from local residents. So Dan D., tell us just how up-close did you get to those snakes for the very close-up photographs in the July 17 edition?

Innsbrook Nature Field Guide

If you have interest or ideas to contribute for creating an Innsbrook Nature Field Guide please contact Rich or Kath at info@ibknature.com as we plan forward this Winter project.

Closing Nature Quote

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads” – Henry David Thoreau.

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