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Archive for April, 2013

. . . but not at Crow’s Nest

Garlic mustard may be behind in season at Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary (see below), but it’s right on time at Crow’s Nest Preserve. I know several of you are planning to come this weekend to pull it, so please still plan to come.

Mariton: Garlic Mustard Removal postponed

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

I scheduled a Garlic Mustard removal this Saturday, from 1 – 4 p.m.  But the Garlic Mustard is a little late this year.  I also have not received any calls or emails of people wishing to participate on Saturday. 

So, I have postponed the Garlic Mustard pulling to Saturday, May 4 from 1 – 4 p.m.  If you plan to come, please give me a call or email.  Thank you.

Crow’s Nest: Trailing arbutus in bloom

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On the slopes of the hill above Piersol Road you can see trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens) in bloom right now. Here’s one nestled into a bed of moss. The flowers don’t linger long, in a day or so they start getting brown spots and decaying.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on April 25, 2013.

 

Mariton: Bluebirds Nesting!

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Bluebird Eggs 4.22.13

Two pairs of Bluebirds had built nests last week.  This week, both of those nests have two eggs in them.  The females are still laying, so I expect to find more eggs next week when I monitor again.

Chickadee Nest

There is also a Chickadee nest in one of the boxes.  There weren’t any eggs this week, but the female is ready because the downy hair of animals is packed in place to insulate the eggs once she starts laying. 

The difference between the grass nest built by the Bluebirds and the moss nest built by the Chickadees is really obvious in these photos.

Citizen Science: Distribution of Look-Alike Buttercups

Happy Earth Day!

I usually offer some things to think about on Earth Day: reduce, reuse, recycle, purchase wisely, buy fresh/buy local, volunteer, support conservation organizations, plant native species, let your yard go a little wild, etc. And most importantly, get out and enjoy nature!

This year I’ll add another: participate in some citizen science. Here is one project to which I recently contributed:

You know that beautiful yellow flower that is carpeting local forests, particularly in the floodplains of streams and rivers? It is an invasive plant called lesser celandine, or by its botanic name: Ranunculus ficaria. Beautiful it may be, but because it so thoroughly carpets the floor of the woods, it is displacing a diversity of the native spring wildflowers that would otherwise grow there: trout lily, anemones, bloodroot, spring beauty, Dutchman’s breeches, trilliums, and native orchids, to name a few.

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This is one species that I found a small population of at Crow’s Nest several years ago—about 25 plants. I have been working to get rid of them before they expand to fill our floodplain woods. Last year I found no new individuals (the location, on the way to the creek trail, is permanently flagged). But this year I found three, so I removed them promptly. This is the best example I have of “EDRR”: Early Detection—Rapid Response. It is much easier to manage an invasive species very early in the invasion process than once it is already covering acres of ground.

Several years ago I also found at Crow’s Nest Preserve a population of the native wildflower, marsh marigold (Caltha palustris):

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It is superficially similar-looking, but has only five petals vs. lesser celandine’s eight, and it grows in clumps in wetlands rather than carpeting the ground completely. Our marsh marigold is growing in the standing water of vernal wetlands. Lesser celandine grows in wet floodplain woods but probably not in open water.

There is a citizen science project on to document the range and extent of these two species. Interestingly there are populations of both species locally that are separate but very close. Lesser celandine has shown up along the Horse-Shoe Trail on properties adjacent to (but fortunately for me, downstream from) Crow’s Nest Preserve. Marsh marigold grows in a wetland just a few hundred yards away on the preserve’s land. It’s an easy place to compare the species, their habitats, and perhaps the circumstances under which one site has been invaded and the other not.

I submitted my photos and records to the project on iNaturalist.org. You can too!

Posted by Daniel Barringer on April 22, 2013.

Crow’s Nest bloom update

Trout lily (Erithronium americanum) is in full bloom and this has been a great year for it. There are always a lot of (spotted, like a trout) leaves growing for this spring ephemeral wildflower but only a fraction of them flower; this year has the highest ratio of blooms to leaves I’ve ever seen. Walk down the creek trail from our parking area and you will see many of them.

I was just asked if the round-lobed hepatica, perhaps our earliest spring ephemeral wildflower, is still blooming. It is, and you can easily see a few from the Fox Hill Trail in our Deep Woods.

Bloodroot flowers are gradually dropping their petals and fruit are starting to form. Last night’s heavy rain undoubtedly knocked of many petals and advanced the spring season closer to summer. Mayapples are raising their umbrella-leaves.

Red maples, ash, and many other trees are also in flower. We saw many black cherry seedlings leafing out in the woods yesterday; few of these will survive in the shade of existing woods.

Shadbush or serviceberry (Amelanchier) is in flower now. I like that it adds a hazy wisp of brightness to the landscape and not a bold blob of color like some non-native ornamentals such as forsythia and callery pear.

Redbuds and dogwoods are not blooming yet but will be in a week or so. No sign yet of the nodding trillium. And pinxterbloom azalea is not out yet.

Lots to look forward to in the woods at Crow’s Nest!

Posted by Daniel Barringer on April 20, 2013.

 

Reminder: Get lost, then found!

This Sunday, April 21 we will be hosting the Delaware Valley Orienteering Association meet at Crow’s Nest Preserve. The event begins at 10 am and participants can continue to start courses throughout the morning up until 1 pm. Courses will range from beginner to advanced. The fee is $9 for a map, $1 to rent an ePunch (which records your progress around the course) and a compass can be rented for an additional dollar. This event is family-friendly, and a good excuse to get out and walk around the preserve. This is the second year we have hosted this event and hope you will come by!

Posted by Daniel Barringer on April 18, 2013.

Invasives Webinar: Check.

I had the pleasure today of a new experience: co-delivering a webinar on invasive plants with a couple folks from Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources: Regional Advisor Drew Gilchrist and Botanist Carrie Gilbert. I have little idea how the audience received it… they could have been sitting at home in their pajamas and surfing FaceBook while we gave our presentation online, but the attendees shown online stayed online and asked (via “chat”) some very good questions. Thank you for “attending”!

Here are a few more DCNR webinars scheduled this year, including one on land trusts and one on meadow establishment and management.

Posted by Daniel Barringer on April 18, 2013.

Mariton: Events

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

On Saturday, April 27  (RESCHEDULED TO MAY 4) we will be pulling garlic mustard along the trails.  We have had good luck controlling this invasive plant at Mariton.  For the most part it has been concentrated along trails.  This spring, I am concerned that it could spread into the forest interior due to all the storm damage.  If it gets a foothold there, it will be much more difficult to control.  I am really hoping for a good turn out to help head off this forest pest that affects the health of the forest.  The event runs from 1 – 4 p.m., but people can contact me and work on garlic mustard at their own schedules.

On Tuesday, April 30, we begin the weekly bird walks.  The first Tuesday will be held at Mariton, and we will start at 8:00 a.m.  On following weeks we will be meeting here at 7:30 a.m., and then carpooling to other natural areas to sample a diversity of habitats and thus a diversity of bird species.

Saturday, May 4, from 9:00 a.m. – noon will be a Wildflower Walk.  Judging by what is poking up right now, there should be a good diversity of flowers in bloom for the walk.

Saturday, May 11, from 7:30 a.m. – noon will be the Migratory Bird Census.  This is near the peak of spring bird migration.  We hold the count as a chance to see several species of interesting new-tropical birds that pass through our area for a short time each spring.  Because a lot of these migrants like the tops of trees, we rely on our ears to help locate and identify them.

All of these programs are free, but please contact me if you plan to attend.  That way if weather changes our plans, I can let everyone know.

Mariton: Now Blooming

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Leaf out has really started here at Mariton.  Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is still in flower, but I can see leaf buds starting to bulge, so the yellow cast in the woods is changing to green.  Hepatica (Hepatica americana) and Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) are still blooming along trails if you know where to look. 

Rue Anemone (Anemonella thalictroides) is starting to bloom.  I found a patch of Early Saxifrage (Saxifraga virginiensis) on an outcrop yesterday.  I found one Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) flower, but more should be blooming soon. 

Mayapples have pushed up their umbrellas and are leafing out all over the woods.  Lots of wildflowers are just starting to pop up through the soil, so in a couple weeks we should really start seeing blossoms.  Trilliums are beginning to leaf out, although slowly. 

Although not a wildflower, the new shoots of Christmas Fern are about to unfurl.  There are lots of fiddleheads around the forest now.

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