Starting Year 4: Endlessly Fascinating

I began this blog three years ago, in mid-December, 2017, and have now posted over 210 times. One of my reasons for starting this was to provide others with some information and observations on the natural wealth and beauty of Detroit’s Eliza Howell Park.

(This map of the Rouge River watershed, provided by Friends of the Rouge and found on a sign in Eliza Howell, shows the different branches of the Rouge River and the relationship of the Rouge to the Detroit River.)

Another reason for this project is that the blog’ provides incentive for me to learn more about what I am observing. Preparing to tell others about sonething is a great way to deepen my own understanding.

As I begin Year 4, the number of “research” questions is growing. Among others, I would like to get a I better understanding of the following.

Walking Sticks in Eliza Howell

I rarely see this insect, which is not surprising, since it is a highly camouflaged and a noctural feeder. This picture, taken this fall, is of one on the forest floor.

It will be very challenging to find out more about how common Walking Sticks are in the park and where I am most likely to find them.

The Life Cycle of Several Plants

It should be less difficult to get more detailed infornation on several plants that I have not previously focused on (when they bloom, when they drop their seeds, how common they are, etc.).

One is Teasel, which I think is only in small numbers here.

A more common wildflower that I want to pay more attention to is Horse Nettle, which usually catches my attention in the fall. I want to study it throughout the growing year.

A tree to know better as it grows in this particular locale — its numbers, the time of its flowering and seed dropping — is Northern Catalpa, known for its large heart-shaped leaves and long bean-like seed pods.

Use of Woodpecker Cavities by Other Birds

I recently watched a Hairy Woodpecker drilling a hole in a tree (in December). At this time of the year, the hole is likely to be used as a winter roosting location. a shelter from the cold. It reminded me that woodpeckers excavate, each year, more than the one or two cavities used for their own nests.

There are 4 species of woodpeckers that breed — and drill holes large enough for nests– in Eliza Howell. And there are at least 9 other bird species that nest in cavities in the park, in cavities that they do not make on their own. They use either natural cavities or ones that were made by woodpeckers.

I am hoping to locate several woodpecker-made cavities, at different heights and in different sizes, this winter, when they are easier to find, and then visit them regularly in the spring breeding season, to begin to learn more about which old woodpecker holes are likely to be used by which different species.

While I have a growing agenda for Year 4, I am aware that many blog topics are presented to me by something that I come across unexpectedly, not something that I was planning. This is one of the ways in which Eliza Howell nature walking is endlessly fascinating.

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