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Notes From The Field Blog



Carly Martin

Carly MartinHello! I have been sharing a love of nature with people and exploring the natural world from Look About Lodge in South Chagrin Reservation since 1998. I'm passionate about 'nature play' and while the most eager participants are young children, I don't discriminate ages and welcome everyone to discover the natural world through play with me. Ways I play in nature: I touch everything, climb waterfalls, rock stack, look for life, and soak in every bit of fun and whimsy I can find out on the trail.  I hope you enjoy joining me on this journey as I share it with you through Notes from the Field and I hope to meet you out on the trails.


Topics

17-year Periodical Cicada 101
Posted: 4/21/2016
You may have heard that this is the year for 17-year periodical cicadas to emerge in Greater Cleveland. They’ll be emerging in much of Eastern and Central Ohio and West Virginia as well. So what are these critters? And how are they any different from the cicadas we see and hear every year? What do we know about them and what do we need to know about them before they show up in our neighborhoods, on our trees and maybe following us around as we mow the lawn? Cicadas are insects in the order of true bugs ...

 

Ready, Set... Cicadas!
Posted: 3/17/2016
Periodical Cicadas emerge in our region only every 17 years. This cool survival strategy uses the long period between emergences and number of years being a prime number to ensure that no predator can synchronize with their emergence. While opportunists like crows and raccoons will feast on them, the cicada emergence will catch them by surprise. Guess what, it almost caught us by surprise, too! Adult 17-year periodical cicadas Opportunistic predators of the cicadas are not doing anything to get ready fo...

 

Things Can Get Squirrely... Flying Squirrely!
Posted: 1/21/2016
Have you ever seen a flying squirrel? I’ve heard that they are the most common squirrel in Ohio, although our experiences with them rarely support that. Seeing them in the wild is rare. They are nocturnal. They are pretty much the exact same color as tree bark. And, they are fast! An old fleece hat makes a nice hiding spot for a flying squirrel. But don’t fret. North Chagrin Nature Center has three flying squirrels on display in the Nature Education Building. Stop by on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday betw...

 

Fostering Nature Play Year-Round
Posted: 12/17/2015
I take play in nature very seriously. Research, experience, intuition and good sense tells us that creative play in natural settings is important for children. Cleveland Metroparks is a place where, whether it be on a trail or in a designated play area, children can balance on logs, hop over streams, stack rocks into towers and invite birds to play along. Winter doesn’t have to be a time for that to stop. Children who dress for the temperature and keep dry will enjoy the new experiences brought forth by...

 

The Bones of the Matter
Posted: 11/19/2015
So often the traces that animals leave behind are slight or quick to fade. Footprints are washed or melted away, chew marks are grown over and droppings are absorbed into the surroundings.  But bones, at least some bones, hang around a bit longer. It’s common to come across the skeleton of a dead animal or at least a skull or vertebrae left behind.    Naturalist Selby M. considers this skull at the front desk of North Chagrin Nature Center.  What is it?  A Virginia opossum skull...

 

Confessions of a Fall Wildflower Watcher
Posted: 9/17/2015
Nature lovers adore spring wildflowers.  Most naturalists revel in them.  I like spring wildflowers; I pay attention to them.  Signs of spring are always welcome.  But late summer and fall wildflowers are what really get my heart pumping.  To step out into a field of yellow and purple towering above you like fireworks that don’t fade in the wind is a spectacular show of nature.  Spring’s wildflowers are polite while September’s flowers are thunderous and brilliant.  Sp...

 

Blog About a Log
Posted: 8/20/2015
Sanctuary Marsh next to North Chagrin Nature Center is a favorite place for many people to walk and enjoy viewing birds, beavers, muskrats, turtles and dragonflies.   The marsh is an excellent habitat for many wetland creatures who call it home.   And a beautiful wooden boardwalk across the water invites us out for a close-up view of the life that abounds.   As you look down into the water or tiptoe around the edges, you’re sure to get a look at some turtles.   Midland painted turtle...

 

That's a Tough Bug to Swallow!
Posted: 7/16/2015
Have you considered how a frog’s tongue, which functions very well to extend out and catch insects, might be involved or not in swallowing that just caught insect?  It’s an interesting thing to consider.  Many of us have watched a toad hunting for insects or worms in our yards and gardens.  The toad creeps along keeping an eye out for the next moving thing that will become its dinner.  They see a cricket and almost too fast to perceive, they unfold and extend their long sticky fleshy...

 

One Year Countdown
Posted: 5/18/2015
I’m so excited!   We have one year; mark your calendars!   Mid – late May of 2016: Cicada Invasion! Think back to the summer of 1999 and again, back to 1982.    Early summer of those years in much of Ohio was defined by the huge buzzing clumsy insects that emerged from their 17 years of immaturity for a few weeks of noise and making more of themselves.   2016 will be our year! Every year in the heat of summer, mostly in July, dog day or annual cicadas emerge.   You’ll find ...

 

How to Catch a Vulture
Posted: 2/19/2015
This is how you catch a vulture. When I was growing up, I roamed the neighborhoods of Painesville, Ohio in search of nature connecting activities.   I did find some; kids like me was always do.   But I longed for a more rural living with wilder experiences.   We would drive out to my grandmother’s house in Ashtabula where there was a big farm field, deep woods and an orchard for me to explore.   I loved it.   Large birds would fly overhead.   Vultures.   I dreamed abou...

 

Looking for the Sparkle in Winter
Posted: 12/11/2014
It’s winter again and here we are in Cleveland, Ohio.   There are times when the brilliance we see in warmer seasons seems dampened by thick gray clouds, a sun that’s low on the horizon, trees that are skeletons of muted tones and chilling winds that seem to cut you to bits.   It’s easy and comfortable to retreat indoors and to the brightly decorated malls.   But I want to point out to you that there is sparkle to be found draped around Cleveland like an Emerald Necklace and it is here fo...

 

Meet the Dawn Redwood
Posted: 11/13/2014
When life seems simple, when trees with needles are evergreen and trees with broad leaves are deciduous and drop their leaves, I am here to remind you that things are rarely simple.   Meet: dawn redwood or Metasequoia.   This tree, which you can find in several places in Cleveland Metroparks, is a conifer (cone-bearing), has needles instead of broad leaves like a maple tree, and it is deciduous, meaning it drops its needles every fall and grows fresh new soft green needles the following spring...

 

An Unexpected Visitor
Posted: 10/16/2014
On September 12, 2014, North Chagrin Naturalist, Jeff Riebe discovered a turtle that just didn’t quite fit what he would expect to find in the nature center pond.   Trapped in the rocky corner, the turtle had been pushed by some heavy rains into the overflow of Sunset Pond, adjacent to North Chagrin Nature Center. The spiked shell, deeply hooked beak and enormous mouth were cues that this was not the native common snapping turtle he would expect to find in the pond.   Notice the pink appendage...

 

Thinking About Trash
Posted: 9/25/2014
I was doing some thinking this week about trash.   What grade would I give myself regarding how I discard material that might go into a landfill?   What grade would you give yourself?   Are you one of those people who carefully look at everything discardable and decide if it is safely reusable, compostable, recyclable, recyclable after cleaning, or just ready for the dump?   Maybe you’re someone who recycles easily recyclable things, but doesn’t really go the extra step to think abou...

 

Northern Brown Snakes are Adorable
Posted: 8/21/2014
Northern brown snakes are adorable. Some of you are saying, “no way.” But they are. It’s their tininess mostly. On average, when I find a northern brown snake, also known as a DeKay’s snake, they are about the size of a pencil. I’ve found worms that are larger.  Northern brown snakes are commonly found all around Cleveland Metroparks. They hang out in the forests, near edges and in fields. Turn over a log or a stone in one of these places and you may find a northern brown snake hiding. We plac...

 

Got Him?
Posted: 7/31/2014
As I wandered along my favorite stretch of the Rocky River, I heard the whining of wings near my ear and felt a little pinch on my arm. At this point, most would have slapped their arm and said “got him,” but not me. I curiously watched the insect as her abdomen became larger and redder. Just when I thought it was about to burst, she flew away.   A female mosquito feeding on blood What I witnessed was a female mosquito obtaining a source of protein (my blood) for egg development. Yes, it’s the fema...

 

A Celebration of Art in Nature & Nature in Art
Posted: 7/17/2014
You may or may not know that Cleveland Metroparks Look About Lodge has invited people to work with us for a few years now to have an entry into the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Parade the Circle parade that takes place in June each year. In the past we’ve artistically represented a meadow in bloom and a forest at night. This year we celebrated the life in and around a river in Cleveland Metroparks. Twenty-five people worked with us to create some of our most spectacular parade pieces yet! We had fish and d...

 

Hold Your Stories Till the End...?
Posted: 5/15/2014
I hope you don’t mind that many of my “Notes from the Field” lean towards people and experiences in the field rather than natural happenings….  Or, are those things so different?  I, and most nature educators, spend a great deal of time with school groups.  Children feel driven to share with us their stories.  In my years of being a naturalist I have heard more stories than I can count, on topic and off, “My grandma has a cat!”  Adults often try to discourage or control the stor...

 

Ewww!
Posted: 4/17/2014
When I was growing up there was this cluttered, eccentric old pet store that my friends and I would go into and browse the odd collections of animals.  There was a screaming myna bird, which happily chatted with anyone who entered. There was a large, wire cage with an almost hairless, hunched over, arthritic rat. On the cage was a sign (there were odd signs on most of the cages) that read:  Parents who say “ew” have children who say “ew.”   In my youth, the sign had struck me as a funny e...

 

Parents: Time to Start Planning for Summer!
Posted: 3/20/2014
Yikes! I can’t believe it’s time to start planning summer.  I plan some of the summer camps at Look About Lodge and even write some of the little paragraphs that help you choose which experience is best for your child.  And yet, I’m surprised and even shocked that it’s the time in the year to start planning my daughter’s summer schedule, who will turn 7 just in time for summer.     There are so many amazing opportunities and choices for kids during the summer.  Th...

 

Sleeping on the Floor of the Lodge
Posted: 2/20/2014
It has been an annual tradition at Look About Lodge for at least 10 years now to have a family overnight on the Sunday night before Martin Luther King Day.  This year was no different.   Well, there are a few differences:  Families can now register on-line for Cleveland Metroparks programs.  I’m pretty sure this is the first year we’ve been able to offer that service to participants – it makes the process easier for most. When we send information home to the adults about what to brin...

 

Holes in the Snow
Posted: 1/21/2014
I love tracking in the winter.  Tracks tell stories.  They tell stories of life and death, journeys and nightly rounds.  The precise linear tracks of a fox tell such a different story than the wandering, swirling tracks of a dog, while their toes are so similar.  Two paths of grey squirrels cross from left to right and a set of red fox tracks heads straight up the middle. Some of my favorite track stories are mysteries.  I love the mysteries of holes in the snow.  Tracks ar...

 

Come Outside and Play
Posted: 12/24/2013
Remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t wait for it to snow so you could head out for a snowball fight or to make a snowman or at least have a good reason to drink some hot cocoa?  Maybe you still look forward to snow days.  But, take a look around at the yards in any given neighborhood when there is snow on the ground.  Too many of them are pristine, with only the foot prints of squirrels and wildlife dotting the snow.  Where are the foot prints of children?  Why is there...

 

Rut Fun!
Posted: 11/19/2013
There’s a lot of bravado going on with our wildlife this time of year, at least with the antlered variety.   Welcome to rutting season, the time of year when deer, especially males, are exhibiting mating behaviors. Rut starts with male deer having fully grown their annual set of antlers and bulking up in both strength and attitude.  At its peak during the months of November and December, males compete for the honored position of being the strongest and most choice buck in the area.  ...

 

Precious Places
Posted: 10/10/2013
If you’ve been following Cleveland Metroparks blogs, you know that we have one dedicated to history (Roots Revealed) and this one is dedicated to natural history, or nature.  Today I’m going to skate the line between the two.  I work at Look About Lodge.  Most people who walk into this building are immediately awed by the massive chestnut log beams that make up the walls, stairs and support of the building, myself included.  People want to touch the wood, sit in the chairs and breath...

 

Finding Balance
Posted: 9/17/2013
It’s between seasons for Cleveland Metroparks naturalists.  The schools out, camp time, feet in the streams, sun on your face, soak it all in before it’s over, summertime rush, has waned to a whisper.  We are just starting spiced cider, cool breeze, find your jeans, watch for peak leaf color, clambake, fall warbler, what time is kick-off, autumn.  It’s a time of year when we still have our attention in both seasons but we try to squeeze in desk cleaning, paperwork catch-up, meetings, trai...

 

My Favorite
Posted: 8/20/2013
What’s your favorite animal?  Seems like an innocent question.  It binds me in knots faster than a trip to the dentist office.  Favorite?  You could add 100 qualifiers to that question and I’d give you 100 different answers, each with equal reverence and fondness.  What was my favorite bird that visited my feeder during college? What’s my favorite animal in the category of extreme cuteness? Let’s pretend that today’s question is specific: What’s my favorite animal to find on the...