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Nature Notes - August  2015
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Green Heron - photo by Dennis Burnette
Black-eyed Susan - Dennis Burnette

Going Native:


Plant Black-eyed Susan for Birds
& Other Wildlife

 By Dennis Burnette
TGPAS is continuing to help promote Audubon’s Bird Friendly Communities project with this new installment of our “Going Native” series of articles on native plants we can grow in our gardens and yards that benefit birds and other wildlife.
 
The Bird Friendly Communities project is a partnership program that encourages all of us to create lawns and gardens in urban and suburban sites that will help support healthy populations of birds and other wildlife. More about the project can be found on Audubon NC’s website:
http://nc.audubon.org/bird-friendly-communities.
 
In this month’s Nature Notes we’re directing our attention to Black-eyed Susan,
Rudbeckia hirta, and related flowers such as Rudbeckia fulgida, sometimes called Orange Sunflower. Many people already know about Black-eyed Susan because it is a popular flower for the home garden. It’s a great bird-friendly plant, too.
 
Black-eyed Susan is a perennial that has daisy-like yellow flowers with a black or dark-brown center “cone.” In the wild along North Carolina roadsides the flowers tend to be about an inch and a half across. Many cultivars and hybrids are available in garden centers, however, that have blooms which are large, often four inches or more across. Typically, the clump of stems reaches about 18 inches to two feet in height. In addition, plant breeders have begun to produce a lot of color choices in the yellow/orange/red range.
 
Like most native plants, Black-eyed Susan does well in a variety of soils including our soil types here in the Triad. It prefers full sun and is low maintenance, only needing water during the driest part of the summer. It does so well in some gardens that the clump may get larger than you want for its designated garden site. Keep it in bounds by removing the plants around the edges of the clump. They make great pass-along plants for your gardening friends.
 
Black-eyed Susan, like other native flowers, attracts native pollinators that we need for vegetables and  flowers. Both bees and the smaller butterflies love it. When it begins to go to seed, it provides food for your neighborhood birds.
 
Would you like to see what it looks like in a garden in person? The Greensboro Arboretum has a nice patch of a large-flowering selection planted among other flowers in the Perennial Garden next to the vine arbor.

Adventures on the Little Loop Micro Hike

By Courtenay Vass
Seven hardy people braved the heat and humidity to enjoy a hike along Little Loop trail in Bur-Mil Park.
 
We explored the forest floor and decaying logs to discover the many insects and plants that call it home. Using magnifying glasses we identified spiders, ants and beetles in fallen logs. We even came across a beehive on the trail.  Luckily no one was home. 
 
The logs were also home to many types of lichen.  Lichens are not plants. They are "composite organisms" made up of two, or maybe three, completely different kinds of organisms. Imagine that you combined an animal such as a dog with a plant such as an oak, maybe with a fungus, and ended up with something very different from animal, plant or fungus.
 
Lichens are widely used as environmental indicators. If the air is very polluted with sulphur dioxide, there may be no lichens present, just green algae may be found. If the air is clean, then shrubby, hairy, and leafy lichens become abundant. A few lichen species can tolerate quite high levels of pollution and are commonly found on pavements, walls and tree bark in urban areas. The most sensitive lichens are shrubby and leafy while the most tolerant lichens are all crusty in appearance.
 
Next time you are wandering in the forest or even the city, take a look at your feet.  You will be amazed at the plant and animal life that call the forest floor or even a city sidewalk their humble abode.

 
Dennis Burnette leading group
– Photo by Lynn Burnette

Beginning Birder Walk Report

Nineteen of us enjoyed the nice weather on our Beginning Birder Walk, the fourth and last one in the series for this program year, on Sunday afternoon, July 19.

All have been in Price Park starting in front of the KCE Family Branch Library. We have been doing this series jointly with Piedmont Bird Club, and we are planning another series beginning this coming autumn.
 
We have had a good time doing all these bird walks for beginners, one in each of the seasons. They have been fun, laid-back experiences especially for beginners. The emphasis has been on learning to identify birds using clues such as size, shape, markings, habitat, and flight patterns. All have been very well attended; the total cumulative number of participants for all four outings was around 75!
 
On this last walk of the season, we walked slowly, checked out the bird feeders (which were empty this time, unfortunately), and practiced building our identification skills by watching common birds. Lynn Burnette volunteered to make a run to the nearby supermarket to get a bag of seed. Thanks to Lynn for doing that! Unfortunately, the birds hadn’t found the freshly filled feeder by the time we finished the walk.
 
In each of the Beginning Birder sessions we made the point that a person doesn’t need binoculars  to enjoy birding. Birds can be identified without binoculars, which are just tools to make it a bit easier. However, most folks had binoculars and we had a few loaners on hand, so before we set out on our walk, we began by talking about how to use binoculars most effectively.
 
We didn’t see as many birds as we have in earlier Beginning Birder sessions, but we did get to watch some butterflies and wildflowers to make up for that. Everyone seemed to have a good time.
 
Watch the calendar in your upcoming newsletters and on our website, and check our Facebook page for the next series of outings for beginning birders. Our new program season starts in September. In the meantime, note that we’re still doing our nature walks all summer.

TGPAS Board
Email Addresses

(click name to send email)

Dennis Burnette
Sue Cole
Judy Hoag
Jack Jezorek
Margaret Kane
Lynn Moseley
Gregg Morris
Marie Poteat
Courtney Vass
Stella Wear
Tom Wear
Click here for our website
Click here for National Audubon website
Entrance to the Greensboro Arboretum -- Photo by Dennis Burnette

Amble Through the Arboretum
on Evening Nature Walk Aug. 9


What:  Second Sunday Nature Walk
When:  6 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 9
Where: Greensboro Arboretum, 401 Ashland Drive
Carpooling: Meet at 6 p.m. in the Whole Foods parking lot, 3202 W. Friendly Ave.  Walk begins about 6:20 p.m.


Our chapter will hold our Second Sunday Nature Walk on Aug. 9 in the Greensboro Arboretum this month. As usual for the summer months, we will make this an evening walk.

We’ll meet in front of the Whole Foods Market in Friendly Shopping Center at 6 p.m. to carpool/caravan to the Arboretum. If you would prefer to meet us at the site at around 6:20, the Greensboro Arboretum is located at 401 Ashland Drive.
 
The Greensboro Arboretum is a 17-acre park that has10 different, labeled plant collections, a paved path, a creek crossed by walking bridges, and some special garden features. It is a joint venture of the Greensboro Parks & Recreation Department in cooperation with Greensboro Beautiful.
 
As dusk approaches, this is a good place to watch and listen for resident birds, including Red-tailed and Red-shouldered hawks that may nest in the area. We also may see butterflies sipping nectar in the beautiful flowerbeds. Just before we depart at sunset, we may be treated to seeing bats flying well overhead that have just emerged from a nearby bat roost that isn’t visible from the park.
 
This will be
an easy amble through the park. Kids are welcome. There are restrooms and a water fountain in the park.

More information about the Arboretum may be obtained on the following website: http://greensborobeautiful.org/gardens/greensboro_arboretum.php.

An Evening Walk on the Bicentennial Greenway

What:  Audubon Thursday Walk
When:  Thursday, 6:00 p.m., August 27
Where: Leonard Recreation Center, 6324 Ballinger Road, Greensboro
Carpooling: Meet at 6 p.m. in the Whole Foods parking lot, 3202 W. Friendly Ave.  Walk begins about 6:15 p.m.


The Bicentennial Greenway is a collaborative effort between Guilford County and the City of Greensboro. When it is completed, it will be an almost 20-mile greenway that connects the City of High Point to the City of Greensboro.

Do not worry that we expect you to walk 20 miles.  The section we will walk is approximately two miles.  It is one of the newer sections that connects Oak Ridge Road to West Friendly Avenue. 

We will travel through a variety of habitats: woods, open fields, meadows, beside streams, and through neighborhoods.  Expect to experience a very pleasant walk as we hear and see birds and insects settling in for the night.

The Bicentennial Greenway is an asphalt multiple-use trail that is open daily from sunrise to sunset. For a detailed map of the entire trail, check out this link:

http://www.greensboro-nc.gov/index.aspx?page=1363

One City, One Book Includes Audubon Activities

The City of Greensboro has chosen to include activities by T. Gilbert Audubon Society as part of its One City, One Book 2015 events.

Every other year, beginning in August, the Greensboro Public Library along with many community partners, leads a city-wide reading of a selected title. Lively programs of discussion, films, theatrical productions, readings, and more are held to engage the entire community in the themes of the chosen work. 

A Walk in the Woods

The book selection for the 2015 One City, One Book is A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. With gentle humor, A Walk in the Woods offers the opportunity for  programs and conversations about a multitude of issues including healthy living, ecology, folk arts, and more, while at the same time sharing a walk together as a city.

Here's the link to all of the adult programs the city has compiled: http://greensboro-nc.gov/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=28051

There are plenty of hikes as well as talks included, so take a look. To see all that the city has to say about the One City, One Book program, go to:
http://greensboro-nc.gov/index.aspx?page=848

Finding Ferns Is Fun!

Fifteen of us spent a beautiful Saturday morning, July 18, looking for and identifying ferns in Greensboro’s Bog Garden.

TGPAS member Ann Walter-Fromson, a certified environmental educator, led a mixed group of Audubon, Native Plant Society, and Master Gardener members.
 
We used a great little pocket-sized booklet, “Fern Finder” by A.C. Hallowell and B.G. Hallowell, to key out the different species of ferns. Ann provided loaner copies of the booklet as well as hand lenses for magnifying the plant parts for those who hadn’t brought their own.
 
Everyone in our group helped search for examples of ferns along the paths. We looked at the diagnostic frond structure and spore-producing parts to identify each species. By the end of the morning, we had found and identified eight species of ferns, most of which are commonly found in the Piedmont region of North Carolina.

The photographers in the group had ample opportunities to record images of the ferns. Everyone seemed to feel that this was an excellent field trip that more than met our expectations.
Fern-finding photos by Dennis Burnette

Annual Planning Meeting and Board Elections

Good brainstorming work was done at the chapter's annual meeting in June. Monthly programs, nature walks, and field trips were tentatively scheduled, and now various members are busy confirming these events.
 
Once the dates and presenters of programs are set, we will publish the TGPAS yearly calendar, probably in late August or early September.
 
In addition to planning our 2015-2016 events, chapter board members and officers were elected. Margaret Kane and Lynn Moseley were elected to the board. Dennis Burnette, Sue Cole, Judy Hoag, Jack Jezorek, Marie Poteat, Courteney Vass, Stella Wear, and Tom Wear were re-elected. Dennis and Jack were elected as co-chairs, with Sue Cole as treasurer, and Judy Hoag as secretary. Lynn Burnette continues as the editor of Nature Notes.
 
The chapter has a great team of leaders, with several other members working behind the scenes to make  our events run smoothly. Please consider offering your services to help us get even better. Thanks.
Bird-Themed Summer Cocktails
By National Audubon
Fancy summer cocktails—with their array of colors and elaborate garnishes—frequently resemble the birds that we at Audubon love and strive to protect.

And now that the season for outdoor imbibing is upon us, we couldn’t help ourselves. We had to come up with our very own selection of avian-inspired drinks. These three cocktails — the
American Redstart, the Purple Finch, and the Roseate Spoonbill — all represent bird species that, according to Audubon research, are climate-threatened.

Learn more about the threat these birds face at
climate.audubon.org, and sign up to join our climate community to learn how you can help. 

In the meantime, don’t let the bird (or the drink) go extinct. Set up a bird bar in your home and get mixing.

(Note from Nature Notes editor: These cocktails call for unusual spirits, so you might only want to read the recipes while sipping a glass of your favorite beverage.)
 
The American Redstart
Take 2 ounces Leblon Cachaça, 2 mashed blackberries, 1 ounce of ginger simple syrup, half an ounce of of fresh lime juice. Mix together, and serve on the rocks with rosemary garnish in a Collins mason jar.
— Created by Roni Hickerson, Harlem Public, NYC
 
The Roseate Spoonbill
Take 2 parts silver tequila. 2 parts Aperol. and 3 parts grapefruit juice. Shake with ice, pour into a martini glass, and top with 1 part seltzer and 3 drops Angostura bitters.
— Created by Liza Schoenfein
 
The Purple Finch
Muddle one strawberry and a few basil leaves. Add 2 oz vodka of your choice, 3/4 oz of fresh lemon juice, 3/4 oz honey syrup. Shake with ice. Spray fresh glass of ice with Pastis, then pour the cocktail over the ice.  Top with soda water and garnish with a sprig of basil.
— Created by Charlie Dargan, Hogshead Tavern, New York City
Calendar
August 1 Saturday, (10 a.m.- 4 p.m.) -- Audubon NC Chapter Day, the Summit at Haw River State Park, Browns Summit.  
August 9 (Sunday, 6 p.m.) -- Second Sunday Nature Walk, Greensboro Arboretum
August 27 (Thursday, 6 p.m.) -- Audubon Thursday Walk, Bicentennial Greenway

But Wait! There's More!

Here's a sneak peak at events planned by your local Audubon Society for our program year, which begins in September. So mark these dates on your calendar, too!
 

September 10 (Thursday, 7 p.m.) Program:  “Downtown and All Around Town:  Walking Our Greenways and Trails” Speakers:  Dabney Sanders, Action Greensboro, and Madeleine Carey, Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department    

September 13 (Sunday, 2 p.m.) Second Sunday Nature Walk:  A Walk on the Downtown Greenway

September 19 (Saturday) Big Sweep (time TBA)

September 26 (Saturday) Field Trip: Blue Ridge Parkway (departure time TBA)

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