Monday, May 4, 2009

More Birds and Blooms

It has been raining and raining and raining some more over the past three days. Everyone knows that rain is important, but so is a little bit of sunshine. Well, it looks like one more solid day of rain before we get a chance to see the sun breaking through the sky, so I thought I would share some more pictures I took before the rain came.

There has been an abundance of activity in the forest, and the number of bird species moving through the property slowly continues to climb. This past weekend's Breakfast with the Birds Walk tallied 36 different species of birds. Notable observations included sightings of Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Black-throated Blue Warbler. The Phoebes in the boathouse at Bechtel Lake have finished constructing their nest and have begun laying eggs. If visiting the area around the lake and boathouse, keep an eye out for the bird pictured below. Watch closely and you may see the pair keeping a watchfull eye over their nesting location. Please be considerate and do your best not to purposely disturb them or their nest.
Eastern Phoebe

A few more wildflowers have been seen blooming out on the property. In addition to the very noticeable dogwood trees, there are smaller blooming beauties like the Dwarf Ginseng. You have to look closely along the trails to see these tiny flowers blooming. They grow only a few inches above the leaf litter. I saw this one almost by accident.
Dwarf Ginseng
Another plant popping up all over the place, especially in areas with moist soils, is Jack-in-the-pulpit. It's characteristic three leaves look a bit like poison ivy to the untrained eye. Look closely and you'll see this wildflower has a weak stem as opposed to the woody stem of poison ivy. Many of the plants will also have the unusual-looking flower that lends the plant it's name. Gently turn the "cap" of the pulpit over to view the extraordinary color hidden underneath.

Jack-in-the-pulpit

One more flowering suprise found during the past week was this yellow violet. We see endless specimens of the purple-colored violets, but the yellow variety is less commonly encountered. The one below was photographed out on the Fox Run trail. Take the Fox Run trail from Veery trail and head up the hill. You'll be treated to flowering Dogwood trees after crossing the stone wall. Make your way over the three fallen logs and follow the trail through the small ravine. This is where you'll find a number of Jack-in-the-pulpit, Red Trillium, and the yellow violets. There are a number of other plants in the area that will bloom later in the spring and early summer as well.
Yellow Violet
As soon as the rainy weather breaks you should visit us, walk the trails, and enjoy all that there is to see during this rapidly changing time of year.

-Adam Zorn, Naturalist

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