Early Spring Mystery Plant at Prairie Oaks

Yesterday we decided to check out Prairie Oaks Metro Park wondering what migrating birds might be passing through or what wildflowers we might see. Prairie Oaks is one of our favorite parks due to three distinct areas that offer their own unique ecology; the ponds, the river, and the restored prairie areas.

click on image for a better view


The Big Darby, early spring

Before heading out on the trail running along the river, we checked out the ponds and noticed Lesser (or Greater) Scaups, Hooded Mergansers, Pied-billed Grebes, Canada Geese, and one Common Loon in residence. All were too far away to make a picture worthwhile but a Killdeer not far away was willing to have it’s picture taken. I had never before noticed the large size of a Killdeer’s eyes.


Killdeer, ponds at Prairie Oaks

Starting down the trail, we noticed a Northern Flicker in the tree tops.


Northern Flicker, Prairie Oaks


Northern Flicker, Prairie Oaks

The Eastern Towhees were elusive.


Eastern Towhee hiding in brush, Prairie Oaks


Eastern Towhee in tree top, Prairie Oaks

But continuing on, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was more cooperative.


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Prairie Oaks

Near the river a Eastern Phoebe posed for us.


Eastern Phoebe, Prairie Oaks

Eastern Phoebe best 041114 Prairie Oaks cp1

Eastern Phoebe, Prairie Oaks, (Donna)

The highlight of the trip was when, as we were heading back to the car, a Golden-crowned Kinglet appeared at eye level right next to the trail.


Golden-crowned Kinglet, Prairie Oaks

While the wildflowers were not out in any appreciable numbers, the forest floor, with some Virginia Waterleaf visible, was still interesting.


Moss on Fallen trees, Prairie Oaks


Patterns, Prairie Oaks


Virginia waterleaf and log, Prairie Oaks

Small trees were leafing out


Leafing out, Prairie Oaks


As we continued looking for interested signs of “new” life my wife noticed a rather unusual looking plant. After checking all of her plant books upon our return home, it’s identity remains a mystery. Plants often assume unusual appearances as they emerge in the spring. Maybe in a few days this one’s  identity will be obvious. Do you know what it is?

Mystery burgundy flower 041114 Praire Oaks cp1

Mystery plant, Prairie Oaks, (Donna)

8 Comments on “Early Spring Mystery Plant at Prairie Oaks

  1. Without the flower it’s hard to figure…leaves look like a wild (or wood) strawberry?

  2. I don’t recognize that plant but I feel like I’ve seen it before. Purple cress, maybe?
    I think the patterns on the log might have been made by an engraver beetle and the tree leafing out looks like a striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum).

    • We’re now thinking the plant is Ground Ivy which is not native to Ohio. The tracks in the wood are apparently made by an engraver beetle thanks to New Hampshire Garden Solutions.

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