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For Lands' Sake Tours June 4, 3:30 PM - Nelson/Johnson tour: The Nelson walk will highlight some native prairie plants as well as Oak Savanna natives. Our timber floor has successfully burned for 3 years in a row. We have also had some thinning done with some clearing of down trees. This tour will provide a side-by-side comparison of a managed timber to the North of the driveway with an overgrown mess to the South. As I am still learning to ID native plants myself, some you are sure to see are Purple Milk Weed, Lead Plant, Jack in the Pulpit, Green Dragon Plant, a variety of sedges, and many more. Most of the terrain is hilly, so please come prepared with proper walking shoes and a walking stick if preferred. There will be prairie remnant on both sides of the fence. The Johnson property has been managed for 20+ years. DIRECTIONS: 2533 290th Street Peru, just SW of the town of Peru (located SE of Winterset). Take Peru Road to the stop sign in the town of Peru. Turn South on Odell Ave. Odell Ave. will quickly turn into Brown Street. Proceed West on Brown Street out of town (the road will turn into Gravel). The gravel road will come to a Y intersection. Stay to the right of the Y intersection to continue West on 290th Street. You will immediately notice a house to the North. Our driveway is just past the house on the North, just before you reach the bridge. There is a sign with our Name and address at the entrance of the driveway. June 25, 3:30 PM - The Shirm property and two adjoining pieces, managed for 20+ years primarily for hunting. A very high quality landscape with diverse remnants, savannas, and a prairie reconstruction. Details will be provided nearer the date.

Next SIOSA board meeting

Thursday, August 3, 7:00 PM at Decatur County Courthouse in Leon.

Field Journal May 16-31

Thursday, June 1, 2017 @ 05:06 PM
posted by veronica

By Sibylla Brown, Timberhill Oak Savanna

Beginning May 16 we had nine straight days of rain.  This was followed by a cold front which dropped daytime temperatures into the sixties and nighttime temperatures into the forties.  Not very favorable for observing butterflies but it certainly stimulated the plants.  Phlox pilosa filled a small West 40 prairie remnant with its bright pink bloom. Purple Twayblade orchids which are scattered throughout our restored savanna are also blooming.  Leadplant is so abundant in the East Savanna that it’s hard to keep from stepping on it.   

And in the southeast woodland Yellow Lady’s Slipper orchids are blooming. I usually check them by May 1 and cover them before the deer eat the blossoms.  This year I didn’t do it soon enough.  When I checked them on May 19 the deer had already eaten four of the flower stalks.

Yellow Lady’s Slipper

Milkweeds, dogwood, and dogbane, all excellent butterfly nectar sources, are in bud and will soon be open.  Purple Milkweed is more abundant than usual.  East of the driveway, for example, where I usually find two or three plants I counted fourteen.  In the West 40 savanna there are twice as many as last year.  I am also finding it in places I’ve never seen it including under dense canopy. 

Despite the unfavorable weather I did have a notable butterfly sighting — a Zabulon Skipper in the West 40. This rare breeding resident is strongly habitat dependent.  Peck’s Skipper,  Common Sooty-wing and Silver Spotted Skipper (very abundant) were also on wing during our sunny spells.   Once the weather warmed up Tiger and Giant swallowtails, and Red-spotted Purple became common sights. 

Zabulon Skipper

The first saturniids, wild silk moths, of the season came to our moth collecting black light on May 26. That night I collected a Rosy Maple Moth.  This is the first time I’ve seen this species at Timberhill.  I was surprised not to have seen it before since the larvae feed on silver maple which is abundant along our creek bottoms.  Two other silk moths, a Luna and an Io moth came to the light the next night. With its prominent hind wing eyespots Io Moth is one of the most recognizable moths.  Although it maintains huge populations in some U.S. locations Iowa must now be on the periphery of its range.  Since 2010 there have only been nine recorded sightings in Iowa. 

On May 28 we also observed a Hermit and Twin-spotted Sphinx moth at our black light. 

Summer mushroom season began with a dense fruiting of Oyster Mushrooms around the base of a dead elm.  Instead of the usual white, these specimens were pale yellow.  Because of the cold weather?   In the south meadow we had a heavy fruiting of Agaricus arvensis, Horse Mushroom.  Regarded as one of the most delicious edible fungi this is the first time we have seen it at Timberhill.     

I know that summer is almost here when I wake up to the Whip-poor-will’s call.  Although I’ve never seen one, I hear its song just before dawn every morning and each night as I’m falling asleep.  That certainly beats using an alarm clock.     

Insects of Iowa website lists Iowa moth and butterfly records:

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