This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Holley Savanna

The Holley Savanna in Newton County has been one of the spots I have wanted to see for about year, and during the weekend after Easter I finally got a chance to visit it. I was a bit concerned about what I would find after reading this description online:
Mixed woodland and savanna with a stream; supposed to harbor wildlife. Probably good for wildflowers through spring and fall because of the different habitats. 79 acres, no trails, and none too easy to walk through. A large area in front of the savanna is apparently farmed, although it has Nature Conservancy signs around it. Frankly, I'd take a pass on this and visit Stoutsburg Savanna or Tefft Savanna.
At one time this was a property owned by the Nature Conservancy, and they still have a web page for it, which tells what you can see here:
A diverse selection of plants and animals, some which are endangered or threatened, make their home at the Holley. In the seasonal, vernal pools the freshwater fairy shrimp lives his whole life there while the tiger salamander makes it their breeding ground along with the chorus frogs, spring peepers and leopard & gray tree frogs. If you're lucky, you may spot the slender grass lizard - a special concern specie in Indiana - or the primrose-leaved violet, a state-threatened plant.
As the sign now indicates, the property is now part of NICHES Land Trust. It was transferred in December, 2005. (The white fence behind the sign separates the nature preserve from the North Star Cemetery.)

The part along Newton County Road 100S looks like it is being restored to prairie. This was probably the cornfield mentioned in the first passage above.
I am not sure what this grass is, but I think it is one that NICHES uses in their prairie restorations. It is eventually disappears as the plants that they want there come into their own.
The picture below, like the picture above, was taken by my daughter-in-law, who likes to take these kind of pictures and has a camera that can do it.
Contrary to the articles I read, there was a path into the woods and it continued in the woods. It starts near the north east corner of the North Star Cemetery.
The path goes through many brambles, so it might have a lot of berries in a couple of months. Also along the trail were patches of mustard garlic, one of the invasive species that the naturalists hate. (But it is edible.)
The trail may be an animal trail because I doubt if many people use it. It eventually ends at a seasonal pond that had croaking frogs or toads. It was possible to bushwhack to a road just beyond the pond.
The little ponds in the area were full of life. My daughter-in-law had a polarizing filter that allowed her to take pictures of what was in them. There were a lot of mosquito larvae, so this place may be a lot less inviting in a month.
These flowers were in the cemetery next to the preserve. (The cemetery will be the subject of some future post.)
If you have the right kind of camera, you can take pictures of ladybugs that look professional.
This beetle was hiding under some bark that came off a log as we lifted it to see what, if anything, was living underneath. Even if you do not like bugs, you have to admit that this beetle is pretty, don't you?
To reach Holley Savannah from Rensselaer, go west on SR114 until you reach SR55. Turn north toward Mt Ayr, and follow SR55 until you reach Newton County road 100S. Turn west and continue until you reach the North Star Cemetery.
Alternatively, go north on US 231 until you reach Jasper County Road 200S. Turn west and go about ten miles. When you will go over the Interstate and past the Burr Oak Mennonite Church, you are over half way there.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the field trip. It sounds like you need a camera like your daughter in law has.

Samuel Adamski said...

cool pics and wow a shiny, shiny green beetle that looks unreal