Our New Home
We hope you enjoy the new home of our Living in Harmony with Nature & Wildlife at Innsbrook website www.ibknature.com for sharing our quarterly newsletter, nature journal, photo gallery, wildlife references, archives, and announcements. As it is very much a work in progress with pages still under construction we welcome your suggestions, comments, posts, and photos.
We dedicate this issue to Rolly, our 15 year old Australian Shepherd mix who left us earlier this month from old age. As a rescue he must have already thought Innsbrook was like being in a very dog-friendly heaven, just as we do. We were fortunate to have learned from Rolly to see, hear, smell, and sense Innsbrook at a much deeper natural, almost primal level. Thank you Rolly and you will be missed as our hiking buddy!
New Trail Guides and Maps
Innsbrook has published a new Hiking Trail Pocket Guide which covers seven great trails across the Innsbrook Resort. It includes updated maps plus a quick reference guide to plants and animals that also call Innsbrook home. It can be downloaded at Innsbrook’s Nature Page or pick up a copy at the Property Management Building, Real Estate Office, or Aspen Center.
Guided Nature Hikes
So far this year we’ve enjoyed good weather for three IBK hosted nature hikes that spanned both ends of the Tyrolean Trail as well as the Lake Konstanz Trail. We are so fortunate to have Missouri Master Naturalist Leslie Limberg, along with the help of Innsbrook staff members, to lead hikes where even long-time property owners have not ventured. The last guided hike of the summer is at 9 am on Saturday, August 8, at the Meadows trail head just off of Meadow Valley Drive. Want another good reason to join us? Here’s a recent article about the science of how walking in nature changes the brain and can improve our moods.
During our last nature hike many of us learned that we had been misidentifying poison ivy as there are so many lookalikes. It can be a shrub or a vine with hairy looking stems. It has 3-leaf clusters that alternate left and right along the stem. It also may have white berries. The plant exudes an oil that causes an irritating skin reaction on most but not all people. This oil is on all parts of the plant (including the roots) at all times of the year. If you’re exposed, wash with soapy water immediately. You have about 5 minutes before the reaction occurs. The oil remains on clothing, so be sure to wash that too to prevent re-exposing yourself. If you hike with your dog, his fur will most likely protect him, but you could be exposed if you pet his fur that has been oiled. Since so many plants look similar, especially Sumac, here’s a great reference from the Missouri Dept. of Conservation at MDC on Poison Ivy .
It’s that time of year again…tick season. In Missouri, they’re definitely going to be sharing the hiking trail with you. They can’t jump or fly, but they sit on top of a grass stem and wait for a host to brush by. They can tell mammals by exhaled CO2 and body odor. We have three varieties here; dog tick, deer tick and lone star tick all that vary substantially by size. There are several common sense things we can do to minimize the chance of a bite. Use bug repellent that is 20-30% DEET then check yourself as soon as you leave a grassy area of the trail and remove embedded ticks immediately then clean and disinfect your skin. Ticks can cause Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, and the new Heartland Virus among other problems. It’s important to understand that not all ticks are disease carriers and it usually takes many hours attached before they can infect a host. Here’s a reference from the MDC Field Guide to Ticks and a recent NPR program Diane Rehm Show About Ticks & Lyme Disease that shares facts from myths. One myth is that deer create tick borne disease when it’s actually rodents like field mice and rats that ticks start out feeding on. Another good reason to let snakes share IBK with us to help control the rodent population.
Let’s all go batty
We invited Jan Payne, IBK resident and co-owner of the Chesterfield Wild Birds Unlimited store to share a few facts with us about bats.
“Another useful resident of IBK are bats. Bats are highly beneficial for insect control, especially mosquitoes because they are the only major predators of night-flying insects. Due to bat lore and because bats are only active at dusk and night, they are often misunderstood. They are not blind or dirty. They do not get caught in people’s hair or infest homes with bedbugs. Much like other mammals, less than 1% of bats contract rabies. Here at Innsbrook, we have the perfect setting to
attract bats because we have lots of water and lots of insects. One bat can eat up to 600 insects in one hour! We can attract bats to our property by putting up a bat house. A bat house that is approved by the OBC, Organization for Bat Conservation, can assure you that the house has the appropriate qualities. The bat house should be attached to a tree or structure at least 15’ high with the house facing the South, if possible. Bats can detect the hollow openings of the house by their keen sense of sound. For more information, visit www.batconservation.org.” We and our bats thank you Jan! (P.S. Here’s what a bat house looks like that is available from Wild Birds Unlimited http://shop.wbu.com/p/wbu-single-chamber-bat-house.)
As many of you already know, IBK has had the honor of being host to a family of eagles this year. We have enjoyed watching the adult eagles soar overhead long after they would have normally flown away without a nest to tend. IBK property owner Allison V. has penned a great Innsbrook Resort blog entry about protecting the eagles and other critters in the ecosystem from secondary poisoning. This happens when we poison a rodent that is then consumed in the food chain. Visit IBK Blog – Alternative Pesticides Save Raptors for more information and to enjoy great photos of our resident eagle family.
Baby turkeys, called poults, have hatched all around IBK and have been seen crossing roads in a slow family procession. The brown and tan speckled eggs take about a month to incubate. After birth, poults are unable to fly for the first two weeks. They roost on the ground with their mother until they are able to fly, then flock with their mother for the first year of life. The IBK forest is a perfect habitat for wild turkeys. They’re omnivorous, foraging on the ground or climbing shrubs and small trees to feed. They prefer eating hard forest fruits such as acorns, nuts, seeds and berries from various trees, including chestnut, hickory, pine and juniper. They also enjoy insects and will occasionally eat amphibians and small reptiles like lizards and snakes. My favorite turkey fact is regarding the color of the male’s head and neck. It’s normally a bluish color. When they are excited by a nearby female their head turns white. When they’re ready to fight with another male it turns bright red. They wear their emotions on their heads!
IBK staffer Cassandra, who lived in Texas, feels at home when she now sees Armadillos in Missouri. To learn why we sadly see armadillos upside down along many roadsides and why they are called Texas speed bumps visit MDC on Armadillos .
Perseid Meteor Shower
Be prepared to stay up late the night of August 12th then lean back in a comfy chair and look to the northeast. This year’s Perseid Meteor Shower will be one of the two best of 2015, giving us 60-80 streaks of light per hour. Also, the full moon will be past giving us a dark night. Meteors are small particles of interplanetary debris, usually not much bigger than grains of sand, that hit our atmosphere at altitudes of 50-75 miles up. We see these streaks of light not just because the particles are burning up, but because the air molecules along the path become flash heated to thousands of degrees. (Go to Sky and Telescope for more information.) We’re very fortunate to be able to see these events so well in the dark night skies of Innsbrook, one of the many natural amenities we value. Thanks to our neighbors for NOT leaving exterior or landscaping lights on which create light pollution and wastes energy.
Adopt-a-highway, trail, and stream volunteers
If you have interest in volunteering a few times during the year to help us maintain our roadsides, trails, and streams that run through IBK please let us know with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next year we hope to organize hikes that are still for fun but include the option to monitor and clean up all that we are blessed to have.
Invitation to our annual Fall meeting
We plan to host a meeting of our informal group early this Fall with an invited guest lecture. Check back to our website or sign up to receive blog alerts.
Closing Nature Quote
We close this issue with appreciation and reverence for the recent Laudato Si’ encyclical of Pope Francis who encourages us to see the beauty of creation as a gift from God and work to provide care for our common home. Here’s a link to Pope Francis’ a-christian-prayer-in-union-with-creation that we hope you find affirming regardless of your faith.