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Archive for July, 2009

Refections on the Stroud Preserve

Check out one visitor's reflections on a recent walk at our Stroud Preserve:

ttp:// (Chester County Dwell).

Crow’s Nest: Many more still blooming…

There are many more wildflowers that have been blooming this summer that I haven't written about. Our butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is still blooming in some meadows, finished in others.

Monkey flower, black cohosh, and smooth false foxglove are also among the flowers that have been blooming for weeks.

Crow’s Nest: And more blooms…


Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum) is blooming on some plants; others are already forming their seed pods (below). There is a dense stand of it next to the parking lot and it is found throughout that meadow and the preserve.


These pods contain seeds on tufts that will blow on the wind when the pods dry and open.

Seedbox (Ludwigia alternifolia) is also now in bloom. I don't know of many locations, just a few plants on the west side of French Creek in sunny wet meadows and woods edges. The plant perhaps is better known for its seeds.

Another plant in the parking lot meadow is ground-cherry (Physalis subglabrata), a member of the nightshade family. It is also beginning to form the papery lanterns that surround the seed.

Preserves Collide!


Yesterday the Crow's Nest campers traveled to Mariton Preserve to take a kayak trip on the Delaware River—so I didn't know whether to file this under Crow's Nest or Mariton. It turns out you can do both.

The 7/8 grade camp (of which there are two separate weeks) looks out beyond the protected lands at Crow's Nest to see how it fits in with other preserved lands in our region. Today the kids are tubing the Brandywine at our Stroud Preserve; Thursday they will be learning GPS skills at Birdsboro Waters, other lands Natural Lands Trust has protected.

The kids and counselors came back tired but happy after their paddle. Many thanks to Tim Burris for guiding the kayak tour and sharing Mariton Sanctuary with us!

Mariton – Blossoms and Butterflies

BUTTERFLY 07.27.09 001 BUTTERFLY 07.27.09 002 There is still Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) blooming in the meadows.  The flowers are still attracting butterflies like this Great Spangled Fritillary.

There are scattered patches of Wild Bergamot BUTTERFLY 07.27.09 003 (Monarda fistulosa) in the meadows.  Another Fritillary was visiting this bloom looking for nectar.  We are not seeing many Swallowtail butterflies this summer.  Even during the count the numbers seemed low.  I did, however, see a Spicebush Swallowtail in the woods yesterday afternoon.  On Monday, I saw an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail in the meadow along the tree line. 

Crow’s Nest: Now in bloom


Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is now in bloom in sunny openings along French Creek.


Jewelweed has also been in bloom for a while and is a welcome cover in wet woods.

The kids at camp found this caterpillar of the American dagger moth.

Practical Stewardship Notes 4: To manage land is to manage water

It seems fitting the morning after getting 3.5" rain to consider the management and fate of stormwater. You can't manage land without also managing where water goes.

We have had a lot of heavy storms this summer; in addition to last nights phenomenal storm we have also had quick and heavy 2" and 1.5" rains within the last two weeks. Our damage has been minimal in part because of the decisions we have made about how we manage land at the preserve.

The Stewardship Handbook covers water as a resource (pages 29 – 37), again as wetland or pond cover types (pages 92 – 99), and stormwater management (pages 149 – 155).

We notice winter storms here have more scouring and erosive action, partly because of the blocking action that summer's tree leaves have on the force of falling raindrops (another reason is that frozen ground is largely impervious to water). Perennial vegetation also buffers strong water flows during the growing season and somewhat less in the dormant season. So having good vegetative cover goes a long way toward minimizing erosion and damage.

We also have minimized impervious surfaces—roofs and pavements that push water onto the adjacent landscape in greater quantity and velocity than it would otherwise have. Our driveways and parking lots are gravel. We reused existing buildings instead of building new. Since it is our mission to protect open space we are avoiding the creation of additional impervious surfaces.

It is also important to grade water away from buildings and off of trails, since water can lead to damage of structures and gullies in trails. Trail design is also covered in the Stewardship handbook, e.g. pages 157 – 162. Trails should make use of natural rises and dips in the terrain to give water a place to get off the treadway rather than channel down it. We've added waterbars where needed—stone and dirt channels that cross the trail at and angle to divert water aside. On our larger service trails and grass roads have built "thank-you-ma'am's" (or "kiss-me-quicks") which are deeper waterbars that you drive over—giving a jolt as you go.

But once the water is off the trail or away from a building we try to keep the water on the land by letting it fan out over natural wetlands, meadows and woods. We let that water settle its load of sediment and percolate into the ground. Not only does this keep pollutants that wash off of roads out of streams, but it also recharges groundwater, keeping water resources where we need them rather than flushing them off downstream.

Practical Stewardship Notes (c) Daniel Barringer

Mariton – Bird Nest and Other Critters

NEST 5.01.08 003 Bird nesting is winding down for the season.  Bird species that nest this late are the exception to the rule.  I have one Bluebird nest with three eggs in it, but it might have been abandoned.  The eggs were laid between July 8th and 16th.  Bluebird incubation averages 12 days, so there is a chance that the eggs could hatch in the next day or two.  Then the young will be cared for in the nest for another 15 – 18 days.  That doesn't leave much time for the young birds to be educated and the adults to bulk up before winter.

NEST BOX 7.27.09 007 I mow one of the meadows in the summer to control Canada Thistle and promote grasses.  I mow after July 15, when most birds should be finished nesting.  I discovered this Turkey nest while mowing.  The hen probably laid these eggs in April or May when the vegetation was still pretty short.  Unlike Bluebirds, Turkeys incubate their eggs for 28 days.  But the young poults are out of the nest as soon as they hatch.  (That is why the egg shells are left at the nest site.)  They can feed themselves, and are guarded by the female.  When they are two weeks old they can fly into low branches.  (One reason you want horizontal layers in your forest.)  This nest was less than ten feet from a trail that I walked weekly while monitoring nest boxes.  I wonder how many times I walked past the camouflaged hen as she incubated her eggs.

NEST BOX 7.27.09 001 This week while monitoring the nest boxes, I found two boxes with mouse nests.  The box in the photo houses a Flying Squirrel.  Look carefully and you can see its nose and eye.

Crow’s Nest: Indian Pipe


Denis Manchon stopped by the other day to take some more wildflower photos and sent along this image of Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora) showing it at an angle and level of detail I haven't seen before.

Indian pipe is a parasitic plant; the green leaves in the photo are not part of it. The flowers and scale-like leaves are white or sometimes pink.

Crow’s Nest: Undaunted by rain…


It turns out that kids don't really mind the rain… Here they are playing caterpillar outside.

Before the rain we still got in our hayride, free play in the deep woods, time to enjoy their treehouses, and games. We skipped the creek time and small group hikes. It helps to have a large barn to play in when the rain becomes torrential and a crack camp staff armed with great games and crafts. Even losing power was not too bad since it happened near the end of the day!


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