Eastern Cottonwood Amazingly Huge Trunk

Even though the weather wasn’t the best I ventured out for a few hours this past weekend in my quest to learn trees.  And as with most adventures it held a few surprises. Mainly an American Cottonwood Populus deltoides with an amazingly huge trunk.

Since I started learning trees it seems I notice every tree. And especially a group of tall trees at the local park I drive by every day on the way home from work.

When I drive by on my way home from work I have often wondered the species of these taller trees.

One of my main goals in learning trees is to know their silhouette from a distance at least to the genus level.

My guess at this stage of learning, based on height, would have been a Tuliptree Liriodendron tulipifera, American Sycamore Platanus occidentalis, or Eastern Cottonwood Populus deltoides. And I would say the crown, which is all I can see from this point, is irregular and sparse. Which basically rules out the Tuliptree with its basically single, erect trunk. And the bark from here is definitely dark and not light like a Sycamore.


The park district has been clearing the undergrowth so getting to the tree was much easier than it would have been previously. Allowing for views and photos of the trunk.

And what a trunk!

It’s hard to describe how big this trunk is in relation to the surrounding trees. It measured 4 feet across!

I’ve been birding this park for three years. And to show how little attention I gave to other objects I never noticed or cared to find out about this tree. How could I miss something with a 4 foot diameter trunk?

The trunk is a combination but they have all grown together to make this massive trunk.
Not a good photo but confirming the twig of the Cottonwood.
And this photo shows the deep, furrowed bark of a mature Cottonwood. What’s that bit of green in front of the tree?
Hopefully by this time next year I’ll have a clue when it comes to identifying something like this green plant.

And the Eastern Cottonwood is one of several trees Mourning Cloak larvae feed upon. Another piece of a huge puzzle identified.

A Review of Field Guide Reviews

The following is as close to a rant as you’ll hear from me.

I’m about to embark on field guide reviews. After deciding to expand into other nature fields, I have to decide on field guides for the various topics. With the lousy weather and a nasty bug I caught in January, I’ve had time to review a few. I also checked out online reviews and had the same feeling I’ve had for years.

Why don’t reviewers use the guides before reviewing them? And show a few example pages?

I know publishers send out book samples to bloggers and other groups in hopes they’ll sell additional copies. So maybe the reviewers have to review the guide before a certain date to catch the “wave” and “excitement” of the book hitting the market.

But what good is a review of A Guide to Borneo without the reviewer using the guide in Borneo? Or ever even visited Borneo? I haven’t figured that out yet.

Of course there are good reviewers like Donna on 10,000 Birds, but why do most reviews show the cover, the index, and a page or two? Show us examples of the species covered in the guide so we can see if it fits our criteria?

And don’t even get me going on Amazon reviews. Such as “I just received the guide and it looks great, 5 stars.” The people that take the time to analyze the guide are usually lambasted for pointing out what they think of the guide. Too many people wanting pretty pictures I guess.


“I just received my copy and and from the outward appearance without opening it, I’ll give it 5 stars.”

So if you want me to buy your field guide, show the cover plus enough examples of species coverage so I can decide if it warrants my attention, let alone money.

End of rant.

A Few Florida Butterflies

Our family spent a few days in Florida over the holidays. The weather was OK one day, semi OK the next, and wasn’t very good the other two days. But the first couple of days I had the chance to look for butterflies at local parks.

The first view of the ocean. Kingston Park – Ormond Beach
The park was loaded with Green Anoles.
The only butterfly I positively ID were the Gulf Fritillaries flying in the small park.

I watched as a pair flew across the park. I’m still to new to know if this was a male chasing a female or two males harassing each other.

The only other decent day was spent at Tomoka State Park. I encountered two species of butterflies in the park.  Zebra Heliconian and Great Southern White. The low numbers were alright with me because the butterfly I really wanted to see on the trip was the Zebra Heliconian.

A little history of the park.
The morning of the second day provided a nice setting. It’s below zero back in Indiana.
A Great Southern White basking in the sun.
One of 3-4 Zebra Heliconian on the day. This guy looks like he has hindwing problem.
This photo is the only one that shows a hint of yellow in the strip. The strips are yellow but I couldn’t capture it. I’m sure it’s something in their composition that bends the light wave.
A nice pose showing the red basal spots.