Winter 2015 Newsletter

Hello Innsbrook Nature & Wildlife Enthusiasts,

Welcome to the Winter 2015 edition of our community news digest on Living in Harmony with Nature & Wildlife at Innsbrook. In this issue we share info about a Winter Hike, Backyard Bird Count, Singing Lakes, Comet Sighting, Rescuing Wildlife, Reifsnider State Forest, and Favorite IBK Naturescapes. We hope you too find something of interest or inspiration that reminds us how rare and special Innsbrook is.

Winter Hike on Valentine’s Day for Nature Lovers

All are welcomed for a winter hike and cold weather photo safari along one of IBK’s many nature trails at 2 pm on Valentine’s Day, Saturday, Feb. 14.  Depending on weather we will hike sections of either the Tyrolean or Farmhouse trail. Final trail selection and directions to be communicated the day before given the expected ground and road conditions for traveling at your own risk and responsibility.  Valentine awards for the best looking (probably the coldest) and worst looking (likely the warmest) winter outdoor apparel and footwear! Email us to be on the location announcement list. A special note of thanks to all the IBK Corp. and IBK POA employees who helped to create and now maintain these trails for our use.

The Great Backyard Bird Count for Bird Lovers

This annual Audubon sponsored event encourages bird watchers from across the country to identify and count the birds they see in their yards or at their feeders.  This creates a real-time map of bird populations. Just count your feathered visitors for as little as 15 minutes or as long as you want on one or more days of the event and report your sightings online at www.birdcount.org.  This year, the count window is from February 13 through February 16.  For more details and bird identification help go to http://birds.audubon.org/great-backyard-bird-count.  A great resource to keep at your IBK property is “The Birds of Missouri Field Guide” by  Stan Tekiela which groups birds by color for quick ease of use. The two Wild Birds Unlimited stores owned by IBK residents keep it in stock.  Send us your tally and we’ll start compiling an IBK winter bird sighting list.

The Lakes are Alive with the Sounds of Singing

For those of us fortunate enough to have property on one of the many lakes of IBK, a special winter treat is singing lakes. On frigid nights or warming days the contraction and expansion of lake ice can create a symphony of sounds.  The lakes will pop, moan, twang, strum, rumble, and bellow in such great volume it can be heard through closed windows. The icy surface acts like the head of a drum or a cymbal with sounds often travelling the length of the lake. Just Google singing frozen lakes to see and hear examples from all over the world. We hope to post our own this winter.

Comet Lovejoy Spotted Above IBK

Several of us enjoyed spotting Comet Lovejoy from IBK this January as it raced alongside the length of constellation Orion rising in the East.  Our skies at IBK are still dark enough to see these faint celestial visitors with the naked eye.  Thanks to all those who turn their outdoor lights off when absent from IBK to reduce light pollution and energy usage.

Thoughts on Rescuing Wildlife 

Over the years it has broken our hearts to see distressed or dead wildlife along the roads inside and outside of IBK whether due to natural or manmade causes.  Avoiding accidents with wildlife is one of the best reasons to drive slowly on roads in or out of IBK.  Many of us have witnessed and in some cases moved the remains of creatures who called this region home long before us. Our list includes foxes, frogs, deer, raccoons, squirrels, turtles, snakes, rabbits, skunks, armadillos, lizards, and opossums as well as abandoned or lost pets. For those animals I have stopped to check on and then found dead, I often say a little thanks and then with gloves and a shovel surrender them back to Nature by gently moving them off the road or trail, appreciating that Nature knows best how to recycle their bodies into the food chain of life. For injured wild animals, I keep my distance, take a deep breath and offer a prayer that their suffering be short lived.  An excellent Nature Note in the recent Innsbrook Village Views reminds us why trying to rescue wild animals is a bad idea, as is trapping and relocating animals you find offensive.

Reifsnider State Forest

Reifsnider is a rugged 1,400 acre state forest immediately to the northwest of IBK which is managed by the Missouri Dept. of Conservation. We are fortunate in Missouri to have so many conservation areas along with a widely respected, well funded MDC to protect them all. Last Fall the MDC released a new ten year plan for the state forest after soliciting public comments from Warren County residents, including those nearby in IBK. Many comments had to do with growing use, safety, and pollution occurring from the unsupervised shooting range that sits deep within the forest in a pit but on top of a hill. While the shooting range was originally established for the benefit of conservationists and hunters, it now attracts gun enthusiasts from across the region using a wide range of weaponry. Unfortunately, there are weekends where the sound pollution of gunfire emanating from the shooting range is loud and non-stop as it carries across the surrounding countryside.  A secondary form of pollution may be occurring from the lead found in ammunition used at the range which then enters the environment.  Lead ammo is banned in many states – but not Missouri – due to its toxic danger to watersheds and the food chain.  We hope to have the MDC visit IBK this winter to educate us about the more attractive features of this state forest to enjoy, and then share how the new plan addresses concerns we may have.  Info about the forest along with the new plan and history of public comment can be found on-line at http://mdc.mo.gov/sites/default/files/area_plans/2013_reifsnider_state_forest_area_plan.pdf or by contacting Rich McFall for further thoughts.

Favorite IBK Naturescapes

Do you often feel that the word “landscape” does just not do justice to what we experience at IBK? There are so many special, often hidden places within IBK where the scenery, sky, sounds, smells, and nature are so aligned that time stands still.  We are lucky that there are many talented photographers and artists within IBK to help us capture these special places.  We will be writing about a few of our favorite IBK naturescapes that we often find often while hiking or biking, and invite your contributions as well. Send us a note or a photo to share.  Relating to the sounds of nature, the NPR program “On Being” recently featured a segment on the “Last Quiet Places” at http://www.onbeing.org/program/last-quiet-places/4557 . It reminded me how fortunate we are most of the time at IBK to only hear the soundscape of Nature.

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Bowers.

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Bowers.

Photo courtesy of Rich McFall

Photo courtesy of Rich McFall

Closing Nature Quote

“Come forth into the light of things. Let Nature be your teacher,”  – by William Wordsworth long regarded as the Poet of Nature.

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