Saturday, November 5, 2011

Outdoor Hour Challenge - Thistles

Today's Outdoor Hour Challenge was to head out and find some thistles.

We got into the car and headed to the local park. While sitting cozy in the warm car, I opened Handbook of Nature and read the section about thistles (page 524).  While reading, I decided I had gone to the wrong park, because the thistles need to be undisturbed for two years to flower, and looking around I determined the park I had gone to was too well manicured to have first-year thistles, let alone two-year-old thistles in flower...

So we got back in the car and went to a different, closer to nature park, which turned out to be perfect. There were thistles everywhere!
First we took a small sample from the above plant. (Sorry, we really didn't want a 3' specimine to come home with us...). Then we walked to see what else we would find. Actually, some of the specimines were 5' tall!

After investigating thistle specimines available, we walked a ways down the path. I photographed other notable wildflowers:
 I was thinking this one might be teasle.

This one was so light and fluffy! And beside it was some wild blackberry.

My son found this area to be a haven for grass hoppers, and quickly grabbed a trash cup out of the car to collect as many as he could catch! Some of these grass hoppers were 3" long! Those big ones wouldn't sit still for their photograph, though. But this one sat for a photograph:

Having the gloves, because of the thistle hunt, was actually so helpful! My son was able to pounce on whatever grasshopper or spider he wanted to.

We also saw, very close up, a turkey vulture. But, unfortunately, when the bird was close my camera was ready, and when my camera was ready, the bird refused to come back. Go figure.
It was 4:30 in the afternoon, and it was so weird to find the moon was out!
I found some tulip poplar leaves, but as the sun was starting to go down the photo didn't turn out very well.
I also saw some deer, but they didn't get close enough for me to photograph. Also, there was an amazing little bird that kept teasing me. We thought at first he was a humming bird, but he wasn't. He was small, green, with gray stripes on his wings. He wouldn't stay still for me to photograph, and blended in so well that half the time when I could see him with my eyes I still couldn't find him through the viewfinder of my camera. I don't know if I could actually identify him if I found him in a book or on the web, but I might try.

So, we had a very nice nature walk, starting with the thistles. Looking forward to next week already!


  1. So did you take home a grasshopper or two- or a spider? ;) shudder- I had to read twice when you said he could pounce on whatever grasshopper or SPIDER he wanted with the gloves.
    I keep meaning to do this thistle search, because our back field has plenty I'm sure...hmmm...perhaps we still will :)

  2. Yeah... My son put a huge spider in with the grasshoppers. There were lots of grasshoppers -- some of them seemed to be like 4" long! It seemed the grasshoppers killed the spider! We weren't sure... We decided to dump the cup before we got back into the car. (Much to my relief!)

  3. I loved reading this account of your thistle study turned grasshopper study! It is always so much fun to see what comes our way when we take the time to get outside. Your moon image is wonderful....thanks so much for sharing your link with the OHC.

  4. Wow, three inch grasshopper. I would have loved to see that :-)

  5. Lots of great discoveries! Sounds like a wonderful nature walk and experience.