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Archive for September, 2007

Crow’s Nest: Leave No Trace training

LnttrainingNatural Lands Trust staff had the privilege to undergo two days of training last week with Dusty and Amy Allison from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.

We spent the two days walking around the preserve, stopping now and then to hold workshops led by Dusty and Amy and each of our land managers on subjects that help people minimize their impact on the places they love. These include outdoor ethics, how to prepare (and prepare our visitors) for trips in the outdoors, sticking to trails, keeping wildlife wild, managing pets (and their people), and teaching “leave no trace” to children.

We talked about communication styles, teaching techniques, and how to approach people non-confrontationally about things they are doing and how that might impact a preserve.

In the photo above preserve managers are role-playing visitors in encounters at the preserve.

Increasingly land managers at our preserves have become people managers of greater numbers of visitors, and we want to be as effective at this as we are with land management. We want you to enjoy your time at the preserves and want the natural resources to be fully available to future visitors.

Leave No Trace started as a “backcountry” ethic but with greater numbers of people recreating in the “frontcountry” on day trips to local natural areas LNT has added lessons for these places.

Dusty and Amy have wonderful stories from their travels (they are on the road 10 1/2 months of the year) and are effective teachers. Crow’s Nest is a pretty wonderful place to hold outdoor workshops. We’ve already started incorporating the Leave No Trace message in our information kiosk and some brochures; look for it to improve your experience here when you visit.

Crow’s Nest: So that’s why they call it fall…

For the last couple weeks walks in the woods have been punctuated with the sharp smack of nuts hitting the ground: hickory, walnut, and acorns. Nothing sounds the change of seasons more decisively than all this stuff dropping out of the sky.

I have heard, second-hand, that this year’s fall color is predicted to be spectacular, the result of a wet summer followed by a dry fall. May I respectfully disagree?

It’s not that I don’t agree that these conditions might produce the chemical conditions in the leaves when the chorophyll disappears revealing brilliant color. I just don’t remember sufficient rain earlier in the season.

I only recall it raining twice of any significance in the last two months, and perhaps three other times which barely wet the ground. We’ve had just enough rain to keep the grass green but not enough to meet the needs of thirsty trees. Lawns have died near the trees due to competition for water, and many trees are visibly wilting. Several trees have dropped leaves without color and others have shrivelled, brown, still on the trees.

The black gum, one of our first for brilliant color—usually so bright that its reflection from across the road turns our bathroom ceiling pink—has gone with only a whimper of color. The ash trees lack their usual clear yellow, and I don’t have high expectations for the rest of the season.

The preserve still is beautiful this year, and it’s not as if we can do anything about the rain. I’ll enjoy autumn as it is, but I won’t try to misrepresent it.

Crow’s Nest: Contra Dance on October 6

Don’t forget, there will be a contra dance here in the barn a week from Saturday (October 6). It starts at 7:30 pm (instruction at 7:00). These dances used to start a half hour later, in case anyone showing up at St. Mary’s Church, the more usual monthly location, needed to find their way to Crow’s Nest. But now for consistency the times are the same.

Dan Black will be calling to the Bowrockers and a good time is promised. New dancers are welcome; wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Admission is $8 ($5 for students and seniors) payable at the door. Please call us at 610-286-7955 for more information.

Crow’s Nest: The 34 cent solution

FerruleThe tractor was incapacitated by the failure of this 34-cent part (isn’t that always the case?). This is the second time it has happened (in 1200 hours of use); unfortunately it requires a couple hours of teardown to reach it. But it’s a happy ending.

Crow’s Nest: Hiatus

HoneymoonEven though there hasn’t been anything posted about the preserve recently, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot going on!

During this hiatus from the weblog I (Dan) got married and Denise and I went on our honeymoon, camping in The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania—Pine Creek Gorge.

Upon return there were no fewer than four major pieces of equipment that weren’t working right (or at all) so I’ve been addressing these repairs.

More about the preserve soon!

Crow’s Nest: The hornet as prey

Hornet_nestThe other day I was walking though a field taking soil samples (a topic for a future post) and I almost fell into this hole.

You can just see the papery walls and combs of a yellow-jacket nest that has been ripped out of the ground. The few adults left weren’t moving much and paid me no attention.

Fellow blogger and Natural Lands Trust’s wildlife guy Tim Burris thinks it is likely that a skunk dug out this nest, feeding on both adults and larvae.

It’s pretty cool to see the evidence of the food web around us.

Crow’s Nest: Plants we love… Indian grass

Meadow07We love the look of this meadow of native Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans); it looks like it is on fire even when it isn’t.

This is the meadow around the Chief’s grove looking southwest. The intermediate ridge is located in Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site; the far ridge is part of State Game Lands #43 south of Harmonyville Road. The hazy day makes them look farther away than they are.

Holiday Weekend

Wildlife_008Wildlife_014Maureen and I went camping over the holiday near Trout Run with several couples.  We found this black timber rattlesnake at our friends’ nearby property.  (Again, this was not found at Mariton.)  It is about 4 feet long and has 8 rattles.  We took several photos, then drove back to camp to get Frank.  By the time we returned to his property (5 minutes), the snake was gone.  We all looked (carefully) high and low, but could not find it.  At least, Frank and Carol got to see the photos we took.  Another friend thought that it was probably a male hunting for food and females as the breeding season winds down.

Also during the weekend, we saw a large gathering of turkey vultures on the shoulder of one of the many mountains.  I scanned the ridges and located a kettle of 2 dozen broad-winged hawks catching a thermal and thinking about migration.  So, it is that time of year.  Fall will be here soon.

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