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Archive for September, 2014

Mariton: First Fall Walk

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manger.  Photos by Carole Mebus.

MEBUS EasternBluebirdMaritonFieldEdge0930

This week’s walk started in the fog.  There was the cloud of gnats around everyone.  The sun burned off the one type of fog, but the gnats persisted throughout the walk.  It definitely affected how long we would stay in one place to look for birds.  Consequently, we didn’t see migrating warblers.  Still we had an enjoyable walk, saw 20 bird species, including the Eastern Bluebird in the photo above.  We did see a Brown Thrasher which was an unexpected treat.

MEBUS VirginiaCreeperMaritonFieldEdge0930

The Virginia Creeper (Parthenosissus quinquefolia) (photo above) growing in trees along the edges was really spectacular.  Quinquefolia refers to five (quinque) leaves (folia).  Many folks have heard the rhyme:  “Leaves of three; let it be.  Leaves of five; let it thrive.”  The ‘leaves of five’ in the rhyme refers to Virginia Creeper, a vine often confused with Poison Ivy (the leaves of three) that produces dark blue berries that birds love.  To add to the confusion, Virginia Creeper leaves are actually compound leaves – made up of five leafletsPoison Ivy (I usually refer to it as P.I.) has a compound leaf also, with three leaflets per leaf.

I often assume that people can tell the difference between these two vines, but unfortunately that is not the case.  So many people believe that if it is red it is Poison Ivy.  However, lots of species’ leaves turn red in the fall.  During much of the growing season, P.I. is neither red or shiny.  The rhyme above is helpful, but if you spend much time outdoors you need to learn how to recognize the whole P.I. plant, and not just pieces of the plant in certain seasons.

Our colors are just going to get better as Autumn progresses.  Next Tuesday, we will do it again if you would like to join us.

Crow’s Nest: Fall WebWalkers, WebWanderers, WebWigglers

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

Our fall programs are underway. . . kids are exploring the preserve, five sessions each week. With good weather we’ll be doing hayrides, but regardless we’ll exploring the creek, hiking in the woods, climbing trees, and jumping stumps. For the latest on our kids’ programs check out the Crow’s Nest Facebook page.


Crow’s Nest: DVOA Event

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager


The Delaware Valley Orienteering Association had wonderful, although warm, weather for today’s orienteering event at Crow’s Nest Preserve. About one hundred people showed up to follow courses of varied difficulty that traverse the preserve and adjacent open space.

Mariton: Tuesday Morning Walks

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.  Photos by Carole Mebus.

MEBUS HickoryLeavesMariton1029

This Tuesday, September 30, begins Mariton’s Fall Nature Walk Series.  We will be meeting each Tuesday morning at 9:00 a.m. until the end of October for a series of nature walks.  These guided walks are informal and cover a wide variety of topics including fall flowers, birds, butterflies and other nature topics.  Walking each week is a fun way to experience the color change, as well as learning new things.  Here are  couple photos from last year’s walks.  Expect to see more great photos from these walks in the coming weeks.  Or better yet, come out and join us.

MEBUS CedarWaxwingMaritonFields1022

MEBUS MilkweedGoneToSeedMaritonField1022

Crow’s Nest: The meadows have it!

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager


This is a spectacular time of year to see our meadows. The warm-season grasses such as Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans, foreground lower left, and background, below) are a rich orange color that goes well with the goldenrod, also at peak bloom right now. But the warm-season grasses will look great long into winter after the short-lived blooms of goldenrod are gone.


A Joe Pye weed frames the meadow view from Piersol Road (below). This meadow is managed by annual mowing in late winter (otherwise it would fill with woody plants, some of them invasive) and occasionally with prescribed fire, which more closely mimics a natural process than mowing.


Crow’s Nest: The Eastern Comma

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

I spotted this butterfly on the fence rail the other day. Naturally, I didn’t have my camera with me—but I did have my phone. Good enough, though hard to center on the subject!


It is an Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma). When closed it looks like a leaf, and yes, the name comes from the silvery comma that stands out in this ventral view.

When it opens, it is breathtaking.


Crow’s Nest: An early Autumn walk

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

We’ve had some glorious weather, and now that we have some much-needed rain I have time to upload the photos from a walk around Crow’s Nest this week.

The Creek Trail is improving little by little with new boardwalks and fewer wet spots. The teen volunteers, graduates of our summer camp programs, have spread gravel over some eroded portions. This is a labor-intensive job as it requires carrying the gravel in by bucket and wheelbarrow where it is needed.


Filed in the “build it and they will come” category, two species of wildflowers appeared spontaneously along the creek trail recently where suitable habitat was found. Populations of wildflowers come and go with disturbance and available seed source. Turtlehead, Chelone glabra (below) has been found elsewhere at the preserve but now can be seen along the Creek Trail. The same goes for bottle gentian, Gentiana andresii (photo below the turtlehead).



Even after blooming, cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinals) is still striking in appearance.


I’m not going to make predictions on peak fall color yet, but I will say that both poison ivy (below) and American dogwood trees that are growing in full sun are at their peak right now.


And here’s a photo of two of our steers taking a break from the prescribed grazing they are doing as part of a habitat restoration.


Green Hills: Glorious Vistas

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager


Mowing the trails at Green Hills Preserve gives me a good opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the preserve, both close up and of the vistas.


I’ve added trail arrows at the trail junctions. The total trail mileage is about two miles, though you can do a shorter distance by not including both loops. The parking lot is finished so come on by and enjoy the preserve yourself!


Mariton: Breezy Morning on the Lake

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Sunny Lake Nockamixon

We had a small group for our Sunday morning kayak trip.  It was chilly and breezy when we started, but the sun was bright and it was a great day to be on the lake.  We saw lots of Great Blue Herons.  We also saw a Cattle Egret just before we entered the inlet.  We had a kettle of both Turkey and Black Vultures circling directly overhead.  It was a great visual aid of the differences between these two species.  You could easily point out the white tips on the Black Vulture wings.

A large Snapping Turtle was resting on top of an exposed stump.  It was the same diameter and color as the stump, so I didn’t notice it at first.  I did a double take as I paddled closer.  By the time I got the camera turned on and positioned, the turtle was in the water.  I hadn’t expected many turtles on the chilly morning, but we also saw lots of painted turtles sunning themselves on logs.

One of the more interesting sightings was Double-crested Cormorant perched on a branch.  While cormorants aren’t unusual anymore, we all paddled within a couple yards of this individual.  I’ve never had them let you get that close.  I didn’t even bother fussing with the camera, because I was sure it wouldn’t stay put.

Haycock Run

It was a great morning to be on the lake.

Daytrip Discoveries: Wawa Preserve

By Dulcie Flaharty, Vice President of Community Partnerships

Dulcie’s “Daytrip Discoveries” represent her quest to visit all 18 of Natural Lands Trust’s publicly accessible nature preserves within one year–an adventure she hopes will inspire others to do the same! Dulcie was executive director of Montgomery County Lands Trust, which merged with Natural Lands Trust in 2012.

It’s a very warm day in late summer with tight schedules… where might we go to get a quick pick me up? The answer to the morning’s challenge has no coffee, fast gas, or foot-longs, but does go by the name “Wawa.”

Only 10 minutes from Natural Lands Trust’s Hildacy Farm Preserve headquarters, tucked behind the Wawa corporate campus along busy Route 1 (Baltimore Pike) on Valley Road, you will find the 98-acre Wawa Preserve. The property is owned by Natural Lands Trust and managed in partnership with Middletown Township.

wildgoosecrossingPassing under a dramatic bridge marked “Wild Goose Crossing” (a reminder that Wawa means “Wild Goose” in Ojibway), look for the preserve parking area and welcome kiosk immediately to your left. This was the starting point for our walk.

Debbie Beer, Natural Lands Trust’s engagement manager, asked to join me for a quick sojourn if I promised to have her back in the office within 90 minutes.

From the parking area, we were greeted by the chatter of American Robins, Goldfinches, and Carolina Wrens, as if to say… “we like it here!”

With the heat of the day upon us, the wooded path was the obvious choice. (An alternative trail, which traverses a former pasture, we decided to save for a future visit.)

1st trail picture

Within a few yards, the trail opened to a wide and inviting corridor weaving along the clear-running Rocky Run stream, well named with its boulder-strewn banks.

Rocky Run Creek #1

This path, although carpeted with tree roots and stones, provides a wonderful place to hike with a friend. How nice it was to take a walk, two-by-two, rather than the usual single-file!

Day moths could be seen flying in between the shafts of summer sun and perfusion of shady spaces.  Floating in speckled light, a delicate spider web provided a reminder of Mother Nature’s elegance.

Spider Web in sun


A plethora of native beech, poplar, red oak, and sycamore trees provided a sheltering canopy to our hike.

Tall Trees

With abundant trees and a stream along the trail, the pathway was surprisingly cool and breezy on such a warm morning. We almost forgot our timetable as the trail opened even wider.

Last Trail w.Debbie

All too quickly we needed to make a u-turn and head back to our car. But Wawa Preserve had fulfilled our desire for a quick and convenient respite, right around the corner from our busy world.

On the walk back, a patch of woodland sunflowers visited by a bee reminded us that humans are not the only busy creatures in Mother Nature’s world. Pollinators are working constantly to complete their mission of collecting food and sharing pollen.


Wawa Preserve allowed for a brief visit to an inviting and quiet place, not far from the hustle bustle… a perfect preserve for a busy world.

Want to plan your own visit? Preserve details and highlights can be found here.


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