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What’s happening at Dunbar Cave?

 

Photos by Ruthann Cashner and Amy Wallace (passionflower, visitors/program)

The Dunbar Cave State Natural Area's Visitors Center

Dunbar Cave State Natural Area — The cave, as you may know, has been closed since the beginning of November.  We always close during the winter to let the bats hibernate in peace.  Usually we would reopen in April, but this year a bat infected with White Nose Syndrome was found in March and the cave was closed indefinitely.  We recently found out that even if this hadn’t happened, we still would not have been able to go into the cave after the first of May.  We have at least a foot of mud in many of the passageways (at least those we could even get into, some were just too slippery to manage) that will take months to dry. 

But we are doing a lot of other programs, which you can find listed in Clarksville Online.  In June we did 118 programs for 1,416 visitors, and we have 76 programs scheduled for July.

Snapping Turtle, from trap, July 11, 2010

Snapping Turtle, from trap, July 11, 2010

And, of course, Nature is busy busy busy.  We have many birds nesting, such as the Barn Swallows under the porch of the Visitor Center, the Purple Martins in their houses, the Blue Birds in the houses we have just for them, and others that make do with the trees and shrubs on the Natural Area.  We also have noted fawns, turtle eggs, baby Copperhead snakes, hornets’ nests, yellow jacket nests, spiders with egg sacs, and other new life.

If you come to the Natural Area, you will see butterflies (such as the Tiger and Zebra Swallowtails) on flowers, in mud puddles and on animal droppings, and flowers blooming – the native Prairie Rose was nice this year, and right now we have Yellow Passion Flower, Ruellia, St. Andrew’s Cross, Butterfly Pea and the wonderful orange Butterfly Weed, a milkweed – which may actually make seed this year, since it has been blooming for over three weeks and so far no one has picked it (usually it makes it about a day before a thoughtless visitor snaps the top off, removing the flowers and any chance for seeds later).  Our visitors have been extra thoughtful this year!


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