Thursday, October 06, 2016

Back at Beckley Creek Park

After a day of slaving over a hot laptop to catch up on many emails and other computer tasks I've put off for many weeks, my Fitbit showed only 1,700 steps for the day. Oh my, that will not do! This morning a report came through the KY Birdlist that a Sora had been sighted at Beckley Creek Park, so that became our destination for our daily walk. The sun is setting much earlier now, but the temperature was perfect.
At the Grand Allee wetlands, we searched the edge of the lake which was filled with lily pads and duck weed. The mutt ducks swam around laughing at their own jokes. A single Pie Billed Grebe dove down into the weeds. But we saw no Sora.
The fall offers many sightings not found in the other months. This small entirely black wooly worm scurried across the gravel path. It must feel like I would when hiking over a pile of boulders. Ouch! What do they say about wooly worms and the weather? Folklore says that thin brown bands on the woolly worms means a harsh winter is coming, wider brown banded woolly worms mean a mild winter,  nearly black woolly worms means a severe winter is coming, and finally the very light brown or white woolly worms mean a snowy winter according to the folklore. I just saw a projection on the Weather Channel today that we may have heavy snowfall this winter. Brr.
Jimson Weed
Datura stramonium, known by the common names Jimson weed or Devil's snare, is a plant in the nightshade family. It is believed to have originated in Mexico, but has now become naturalized in many other regions. In America it is called the 'Devil's Apple,' from its dangerous qualities and the remarkable effects that follow its administration. When the first settlers arrived in Virginia, some ate the leaves of this plant and experienced such strange and unpleasant effects that the colonists (so we are told) gave it this name by which it is still known in the United States. It is also known very commonly there by the name of 'Jamestown (or Jimson) Weed,' derived probably from its having been first observed in the neighborhood of that old settlement in Virginia.  Also known as Thornapple, in early times, it was considered an aid to the incantation of witches, and during the time of the witch and wizard mania in England, it was unlucky for anyone to grow it in his garden. 
aka Thornapple
It is considered highly poisonous, but parts are used for medicinal purposes. Browsing animals as a rule refuse to eat Thornapple, being repelled by its disagreeable odour and nauseous taste, so that its presence is not really dangerous to any of our domestic cattle. Among human beings the greater number of accidents have occurred among children, who have eaten the halfripe seeds which have a sweetish taste.

Red Sumac is a joy in the autumn, both the leaves and the tiny red berries. Sumacs look edible and toxic at the same time, and with good reason: They’re in a family that has plants we eat and plants that can make you ill. The seeds of the sumac have tannic acid in them. Putting the berries in boiling water will release the tannic acid. It can make a tea but it can quickly become too bitter to drink. To make an ade, use one to two cup of berries per quart of water. I prefer two cups and less water.  The “bobs” of berries can be cut off and dried for later use.
When you are out in the field and find you have been exposed to poison ivy, oak, or stinging nettle you can reach for the jewelweed plant and slice the stem, then rub its juicy inside on exposed parts. This will promptly ease irritation and usually prevents breakout for most people. Hummingbirds love to drink from the small orange or yellow flowers.
aka Touch Me Not
When the seed pods are ripe, the slightest touch will make them explode. The pod itself curls up providing an the power to spread the seeds for next year.
When we walked at Beckley last time, we saw large "flocks" of Monarch butterflies on migration to Mexico. The majority of Monarchs have passed through, but one or two fluttered tiredly across the fields. This guy landed in the grass, then moved a few feet away to feast on a pile of dog poo. Ah, all those good minerals! This may give it the strength to continue his journey south. Good luck your majesty!


Linda said...

Beautiful series. Thank you so much for sharing.

jack said...

Hello im a bird lover, but since i dont know birds very well so i find it frustrating at times trying to flip through a book trying to find it so im making an app to identify the species of bird through its sound. But i need your help could you please take this survey and post my survey and get everyone to take it to make this app the best it can be.