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Archive for May, 2007

Crow’s Nest: Wetland Walk

WetlandlogLast week I spent a lot of time combing the preserve for new outcrops of mile-a-minute weed. One of the parts of the preserve I had to cross was a remote wetland far from the accessible parts of the preserve. I was stunned by the beauty there; in the past I had visited this site later in the season, when the plants are waist tall instead of only knee high and the bugs (you know, the ones flying in your eyes) are a bit more prominent. Of course I didn’t bring the camera.

FrenchcreekSo I had to return the next day with the camera. The greens were clear and bright. Deer had nibbled on the tops of the tender new growth of jewelweed, mile-a-minute, and even stinging nettle. Even the garter snake was in the same place sunning the following day.


I’ll post a few more photos from this walk over the next few days.

Crow’s Nest: Visiting the preserve

Want to visit the preserve? It is a beautiful landscape we love to share with everyone. The preserve is open dawn to dusk, free of charge. There’s no need to call ahead unless you have questions. I am in the office for only short periods each day but will call you back.

Here’s what to expect and some guidelines to make your visit more comfortable:

The trails are grass mowed once a week or they are dirt paths through the woods. Some are surfaced with wood chips and there are a few boardwalks through wet spots but for the most part they are minimally maintained. The grass is wet every morning with dew. Wear sturdy shoes you don’t mind getting dirty, preferably ones that are waterproof. Don’t wear sandals or open-toed shoes.

We recommend wearing long pants and socks for peace of mind. There are ticks throughout natural areas in our region, and light-colored pants help you find them and keep them off your skin.

Poison ivy is a native plant here as well—and one that widely used by wildlife. We try to keep it away from the places people are likely to come in contact with it, but it can be found near most trails. Wash thoroughly when you return from your trip and most of the plant’s oils can be removed before they cause contact dermatitis—the itchy rash.

Wear sunscreen, a hat, and a natural bug repellant as needed. You will enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells more if you are protected from the elements.

Pick up a trail map at the parking lot or download one here (warning: large file).

Stay on the trails whenever possible to limit damage to the natural resources and to protect yourself (and keep from getting lost).

Give yourself enough time on your first visit to get to know the preserve. Or combine your visit with nearby French Creek State Park, Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, the Daniel Boone Homestead, Warwick County Park, or other attraction. Bring a camera. Be aware that your cell phone may not have service here in the valley.

If you are a teacher bringing a school group here be sure to discuss with us the number of parents or staff participating and ensure that everyone is prepared for the conditions when they arrive.

Give me a call at 610-286-7955 if you have any questions. Enjoy!

Adaptive reuse

ShedOn a visit to Stroud Preserve this weekend, I recognized the roof and walls of this run-in shed, used to shelter cattle in a pasture where cattle are being used to manage grasslands for bird habitat. Erich Estes salvaged the old roof from the Jacob barn at Crow’s Nest and built this rustic but elegant shed with the materials.

Crow’s Nest Open House & Contra Dance, June 2

Contradance06We’re having another open house and hosting the Elverson Dance at Crow’s Nest on June 2.

We’ll begin with a hayride through the preserve at 4:30 pm. Then we’ll have a potluck dinner around 5:30 pm followed by the dance: beginner instruction at 7:30 and contra and square dancing at 8 pm.

The hayride and potluck dinner are free; please RSVP at 610-286-7955. There is a fee charged for the dance: $8 ($5 for students and seniors). No need to bring a partner for the dance, just wear soft-soled, comfortable shoes. Donna Hunt will be calling to the Run of the Mill String Band. We hope to see you here!

Crow’s Nest: garden update

Garden507I just finished building the sixth new raised bed (we kept one of the old ones until we can buy more materials). The kids at WebWalkers and Spiderlings this week planted the vegetable plants that they had grown from seed and also direct-sowed some more seed. We now are growing pole beans, eggplant, tomato, pepper, watermelon, beets, kale, lettuce, broccoli, flowers, and more.

Last week was the end of the spring WebWalkers and Spiderlings season. The spring brought an incredible transformation; we began the six-week sessions in winter coats and in woods with no leaves and finished in this lush spring with birdsong all around us. When the kids return for summer camp they will be enjoying some of the garden’s harvest (and perhaps also helping with the weeding).

Crow’s Nest: more blooms

For the last two weeks I have done little else other than control mile-a-minute (a fast-growing vine that is rapidly expanding at Crow’s Nest) and mow trails. I haven’t been able to keep up with the fast pace of wildflowers blooming in the woods.

PennywortBut here’s one I found Saturday that I had never seen here before: pennywort (Oblaria virginica). I couldn’t find it in the Peterson Field Guide, the picture in Newcomb’s wasn’t sharp enough to help me identify it, but I found it in the Audubon guide and Richard M. Smith’s Wildflowers of the Southern Mountains. Smith’s entry notes, “The small size of this plant and its dull coloring make it easy to overlook” (124). Now I don’t feel so bad.

Nodding trillium is blooming near the parking area. I saw some golden ragwort in a nearby meadow. Wild geranium is blooming prolifically. And of course showy orchis (right) is beautiful now.Showyorchis2

Mariton – Bluebird Hatched!

051707_004A bluebird baby hatched out of its egg just before I checked the box.  Five more eggs remain and should hatch out by the weekend.  The other bluebird nest in the meadow still had 5 eggs, but they should start hatching soon.  Click on the image to see a larger photo.

051707_001There were two tree swallow nests with eggs.  This one had three eggs, and the other had five eggs.  The chickadee nest now has 8 eggs in it.

Gwynedd Preserve Open House

Gwynedd_meadow_2This Saturday, May 19, Natural Lands Trust will be holding an Open House at Gwynedd Wildlife Preserve. Whether you are a regular visitor or have never been to Gwynedd, this is a wonderful chance to discover everything that the preserve has to offer. We’ll be holding a series of events throughout the day–come to any or all of them, or just stop by the preserve center to say hello before heading out for a hike on your own.

  • 8:30am    Bird Walk – warblers, sparrows, and birds of prey are among the highlights
  • 9:30am    Cofee and muffins in the preserve center
  • 10:00am  Work Project – cut invasive vines in the hedgerows and woods of the preserve
  • 11:30am  Lunch – roast hotdogs over an open fire
  • 12:15pm  Hayride – tour the preserve’s grasslands and woodlands in the hay wagon
  • 1:00pm    Grasslands Walk – learn about what we’re doing to restore native warm season grasslands at the preserve.

No advanced registration is necessary. For directions, visit the Gwynedd Wildlife Preserve page on Natural Lands Trust’s website. We hope to see you on Saturday!

Mariton – Merrill Creek Bird Walk

Derby_prarieThis morning the Bird Club visited Merrill Creek Reservoir in New Jersey.  Bill Roehrig guided us through some new areas (to me at least) on this 290 acre preserve.  This is always a good area to hear prairie warblers with their ascending song.  We got a great view of a male singing its heart out.  (This prairie warbler photo was taken by Virginia Derbyshire in 2005, when we visited Merrill Creek while they were banding birds.)  We also got to see common yellowthroats, Baltimore orioles and great-crested flycatchers.

We were admiring two eastern kingbirds in a meadow, when Bill spotted two coyotes hunting in the far corner of the meadow.  We were able to watch them for some time, (but I never thought to take a photo).  Then we headed down to the stream.  There we switched to flower watchers and admired Indian cucumber root (not quite in bloom), showy orchis, false hellebore, fringed polygala, and marsh marigold.

051507_005We heard a Louisiana waterthrush, but couldn’t see it.  We also found a black bear track in the mud.  Then Bill discovered this eastern-eyed click beetle on a pine snag.  At the top of the hill we viewed two male scarlet tanagers, and found a male ovenbird singing.  It was a great morning of exploring through different habitats, and discovering all sorts of nature treasures.  My thanks to Bill for scouting the area and finding an amazing route for our morning.

Mariton: Bird’s the Word

Saturday, we conducted the 15th Migratory Bird Census at Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary.  In about 4 1/2 hours, three of us counted 52 species and 325 individual birds.  The timing of the census probably hit the peak of warbler migration.  (We had 13 warbler species.)  We also heard three warbler songs that we could not identify, nor could we find the singers, so that is three more species that weren’t counted.

The most abundant bird species were ovenbirds (22 individuals), blue jays (21) and Baltimore orioles (18).  Of special interest, we counted 15 black-throated blue warblers, 13 yellow-rumped warblers and 10 black-throated green warblers.  The census just happened to coincide with a large wave of these species passing through.  We also saw a Blackburnian warbler and 3 blackpoll warblers.  It was an exciting morning.

I want to thank Virginia Derbyshire and Carole Mebus for helping with the census.  To get this kind of tally with only three people is quite a feat. 


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