Friday, April 22, 2011

From The Hill

It won’t be long before the trees leaf out and the long view from The Hill effectively disappears. I enjoy the view, but I also enjoy having the view blocked. The change is like drawing the curtains. It gives me the feeling of being in a closed, intimate setting. At this time of year, I give the distant landscapes a last check before they get put away for the summer. This view is looking into the direction of the prevailing wind. Somewhere out there is the source of the trash I seem to be constantly picking up.

Looking toward the point of the ridge, I can see young cedars growing in the tall grass. Every four or five years I take my loppers and wander back and forth snipping off the little cedars. When the cedars become visible in the spring, I make a note on the calendar to schedule cedar maintenance for the coming winter. Cedar maintenance is the term I use to describe control of new cedar sprouts in an area that I have previously cleared.

The view of the woods will change dramatically in the next couple of weeks. I haven’t been out to see how many trees went down during the storm winds early Wednesday morning. Radar estimates showed wind speeds during the storm to be between 60 and 80 miles per hour. I’m sure some more trees came down and they probably came down over one of the trails.

This is the field that was mowed in December of 2009. There are probably a few trees sprouting out there somewhere, but it’ll be a couple of years before they become noticeable. I love the look of a field full of tall grass unbroken by trees. The tree swallows have pretty much taken over the field this year. Only one nest box houses bluebirds. The rest contain Tree Swallows. For every swallow pair in a box, there seem to be two pairs waiting for the chance to claim the box for themselves. It’s constant chattering and chasing as the occupants try to maintain their chosen nest site.

The Indiangrass has attracted two territorial Henslow’s Sparrows. They’ve been calling day and night for over a week. So far, this is the best shot I’ve been able to get of one of the sparrows. Don’t bother straining your eyes. The birds have been staying down in the grass and I have yet to see one this spring. It’s fortunate that they have such a distinctive call. Otherwise I wouldn’t even know they were there.


  1. Oh my. For some reason this post makes me glad I moved away from OH. It is nice to see how you appreciate the anticipation of where you live (besides the mylar balloon trash). I'm not sure I've seen the nest boxes on your blog... will look for them.

  2. Nice vista shots Steve, I keep waiting for a American Bison to stoll into view.;)..It is excellent seeing how you manage, by pruning and such some of the plants , which I have to complement you on as so many of the conservationists I've seen so far seem to think the way to manage a remnant habitat is to let it go, failing to understand that a remnant is by the nature of its size,an artificial natural environment much more susceptable to invasion and change, and thusly artificial management is a necessity and a GOOD thing in this case!I did a recent survey of a DNR "Wild flower" area they mowed and left to go..90% bull thistle 9% common Dogbane and 1% other..not what I call a natural balanced habitat..on a related note, since we both only have so long to wait, why not give the trilliums a boost with a few added natives?? if your remnant was upto historical size, im sure many more colonies of trillium would have been nearby and would have had the chance to expand your group naturally.Just a thought.

  3. Hi, Katie. I'm glad that this post was able to make you happy. So far, I haven't felt the urge to flee to California.

    Thanks, Michael. There have been a few domestic cattle stoll through here, but I'm still waiting for the Bison. One of the management decisions I made early on was to restrain from introducing any plants from off of the property. That makes for a management challenge that is fun and if genetic uniqueness of isolated populations is really of value, keeping the population restricted to local plants may be worthwhile.

  4. Domestic Cattle..i'm still laughing, thanks...I hear what you are saying regarding the genetics, however would that not require you to isolate your pollenators as well? I mean ,for example, some milkweeds require pollenization from distant seperate colonies , not the local clone group to survive.Also , maybe you could enhance the survival and expansion rate of your own local plant seedlings, by, like i do with milkweeds,collecting your plants seeds, raising them artificially and then returning them to the wild aka Blue Jay Barrens,thereby increasing the germination and survival rate ten fold? an amendment to my previous thought :)

  5. Michael - I have collected seed from several species and raised plants in a garden setting so I could produce more seeds to distribute around the property. I've also collected wild seed and distributed it in areas most conducive to its survival. This method increases the percentage of seed that has a chance of developing into a mature plant.

    My most successful technique has been the manipulation of the site to create the optimum conditions for development of the target plant. There has been a clear correlation between the improvement of habitat and the natural increase of plant populations. I'm constantly trying new techniques and adopting those that seem to show the results I want.

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  7. Awesome! I can't wait until I get a chance to come visit you!Thanks for what you are doing!