October 2, 2013


I just realized that October 1 was the one year anniversary of Around the Bend! I started the blog in order to have a use for some of the many photos that we take, to improve my computer and photography skills, and to increase people's appreciation of the natural world of Ohio and beyond. It has proven to be great fun, despite some mistakes and the inevitable learning curve. Most of the mistakes have involved my insatiable urge to fool around with the computer stuff, especially the template, in hopes of improving it but often wishing I had left it alone!

For example, I dug around in Google and found instructions on how to change the HTML code to put the little Facebook "Like" button at the top of the template. It works, but gives me no information as to who "likes" it--it just shows that a certain number of people have clicked on the button. It isn't a huge problem, but it isn't what I expected it to do, and I don't know enough about HTML to change it back.

The most problematic thing that I did was to change the URL address of the blog. From what I read it looked like people would be redirected if they used the old one, but instead they got a message that the link no longer existed. Fortunately a couple of people told me about it and I was able to do a little damage control. So...lessons learned!

I'd like for there to be a lot of consistency in the writing, but there are a few issues that I still don't feel sure about. Here are a few, and feel free to let me know how you feel about them!

  • Capitalizing plant and critter names: On the whole I think that the names of most plants and animals don't really qualify as proper nouns, which were what I was always taught to capitalize. But in a lot of birding magazines and internet articles, names are capitalized for clarity. For example, there are lots of blue jays but only one Blue Jay. I resisted capitalizing when I was the Columbus Audubon newsletter editor many years ago, because I felt like it interrupted the flow of the sentences. In the blog, I've mostly capitalized but not without hearing the reprimands of former English teachers in my head. So I'm still a bit conflicted.
  • Use of scientific names: I don't think that most readers of Around the Bend really care about scientific names, but they are especially useful for plants, where there are often several common names for the same species. So in most posts I have included them for plants and maybe dragonflies, but usually not for birds or mammals or other critters. 
  • Links for more information: A lot of times I include links within posts for the reader that would like to know more about a certain plant or animal or destination. If they are useful even for just a handful of people I think they are worth including, but feel free to express an opinion!

My original goal was to post once a week on average, and that has gone well. Going forward I have no idea how often I'll post--probably just when I have time and something to say! 

Here are just a few photos from the past year that I like but I haven't posted before, that illustrate a tiny part of Ohio's astounding biodiversity.

This is a Plebeian or Trumpet Vine Sphinx moth caterpillar, on a Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans) in Ohio's Adams County. This critter was about 4" long, and will become a rather dull brown adult moth. But what a splendid design on this larval form, including the blue-green "tail"!

This beautiful plant is the rare Greater Fringed Gentian (Gentianopsis crinita). It blooms in the fall and only occurs in a few places in Ohio. This picture was taken in September in the Oak Openings area, just west of Toledo.

These little caterpillars look like something out of a fabric designer's portfolio. They are the larvae of Turbulent Phosphila moths, and they were photographed in Adams County in September. I have no idea what is turbulent about them! They feed on greenbrier and during most of their caterpillarhood they stay together, earning them the description "gregarious defoliators".

This is a rather humble plant, but one that I've always enjoyed, maybe because I just like observing the plant and animal life around a pond. It is called Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) and brigntens up many of our small bodies of water.

The arrangement of the disk flowers of a Purple Coneflower is fascinating in itself, but having a crab spider sitting on top was kind of the "icing on the cake". Crab spiders are usually much more camouflaged than this, hiding in or on flowers of the same color, waiting to grab and eat an unsuspecting pollinator.

Last but not least, here is a fairly common dragonfly, the Twelve-spotted Skimmer, that frequents many Ohio ponds. One of our largest dragonflies, it is a fierce predator and sports such a lovely black and white pattern on its wings.

I truly appreciate all the people who read the blog, and especially enjoy the comments, either on Facebook or on the blog itself. Keep those comments coming--I look forward to them!


  1. I have no opinions either way on capitalization; whatever you're doing now seems to work well and I haven't noticed any distraction either from having capital letters or not having them. As for scientific names, I think they're interesting, though I don't have deep enough knowledge to really appreciate how they show the relationships among critters and plants. Bottom line: keep on doing what you're doing. I've gained a greater appreciation for the natural world from reading your blog.

  2. Hey there! I'm the guy over at Ohio Nature (www.ohionature.blogspot.com). When I started, I had the same "do I capitalize the names?" thought going through my head. I decided to capitalize any specific name of a species after I read "Kingbird Highway," in which Kenn Kaufman capitalizes every common name of a species, so instead of "I saw a blue jay," it was "I saw a Blue Jay." But if I ever talk about groups of species, like "jays," then I just leave it lower case since it isn't a specific common name. Just wanted to throw in a fellow blogger's thoughts. Congrats on the anniversary!

  3. Hi Kyle! Thanks for your note! I took a look at your blog and I really like it. It looks like we visit a lot of the same places! I had my first visit to Hargus Lake a couple of weeks ago and now I'd like to go back and do the 5 mile trail. All the best to you at OU!