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Archive for June, 2015

Crow’s Nest: Paradise

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

It was a quiet Sunday at the preserve. Many who might otherwise visit the preserve are away on vacation. It rained 2″ on Saturday so it was pretty wet. And though no rain was forecast Sunday, it looked imminent all day. It was a great day to wander the preserve—to enjoy what is close.

Early in the day I returned to the black-eyed Susans that are proliferating near our entrance sign on Harmonyville Road. Unlike those at Green Hills Preserve, this small meadow I planted as deep plugs, not seeds.

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The native Turk’s cap lily, Lilium canadense, is more prolific than ever on our Creek Trail; both orange and yellow flowers are present this year. I’ve found this species unreasonably difficult to photograph.The Creek Trail was passable with good waterproof boots.

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It was a good day to be on the flowers of the redosier dogwood, Cornus sericea.

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A bumblebee and a great spangled fritillary seemed to agree.

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There were more subtle beauties too, such as these bracts on the ironwood tree (Carpinus caroliniana).

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Yes, that looks like a spotted cucumber beetle on the swamp rose (Rosa palustris). Looks innocent here, but they can be a major garden pest (also known as Southern corn rootworm for its larvae).

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Owen and I spent a few hours in the “backyard,” just hanging out. The tidepools we examined in Maine while on vacation were fascinating, but today he found the puddles in the tractor path just as interesting.

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The (Green) Hills are alive . . . with black-eyed Susans

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

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Imagine my delight as I pulled up to Green Hills Preserve yesterday and saw this! (I haven’t been to the preserve in a month; Aubrey mowed trails there while I was away.) She told me the black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia spp.) were in bud, and now they’re in flower!

This is the meadow near the parking area that I seeded in 2014. I can’t claim too much achievement here, as these species of Rudbeckia are easy to grow, even weedy, in newly-planted native meadows. But it sure beats the foxtail grass that dominated the meadow the first summer. Over time the Rudbeckia will have to compete with native warm-season grasses that are now still building their deep root systems, so it is likely we won’t see a display like this again.

Crow’s Nest: All in a day’s work

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

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This isn’t the “Dirty Jobs” blog but in this photo building stewardship field supervisor Steve Holmburg is doing just that. He’s applying a coat of waterproofing (the first of two) to the concrete wall of the addition where it will be below grade. It’s hot today and he’s wearing coveralls and trying to stay hydrated.

Much of the barn addition will be below grade, as are traditional bank barns. When it is finished the visual size of the addition will appear much smaller than it does now as it’s being built in an open hole. But construction below ground must be done right to keep moisture out—there isn’t an easy opportunity later to fix it.

Crow’s Nest: New compost bins

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

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It sure was nice to take a two week vacation and come home to find that not only were things under control at the preserve but that Cody had built these beautiful compost bins to replace the rotting pallets we had been using.

With the return of rain things have started growing here again and the preserve is lush, even rank, with growth. But Aubrey and Cody stayed on top of the trail mowing and the other maintenance.

Camp starts next week so there is still a lot of work to do to keep up with the growth but I am refreshed and ready (and grateful for our staff’s good work).

Brunch with Bobolinks

By Dulcie Flaharty, Vice President of Community Planning

Bobolink in flight, Carlos Alejandro

The meadows at Natural Lands Trust’s Stroud Preserve glimmered with late spring color during the final weekend of May. The annual Breakfast with Bobolinks, a bird viewing and lecture program, provided a perfect magnet for bringing two of my book club friends for a visit to the 574-acre preserve outside of West Chester.

Several dozen folks gathered in the handsome Stroud Preserve stone barn for an informative and entertaining lecture by naturalist and musician Jim McVoy, and then proceeded up a slight hill to a perfect viewing point to search for Bobolinks in one of the preserves thoughtfully stewarded meadows.

Meadow grassesIn addition to glorious, just-right weather, several Bobolinks cooperated by offering a lively dance above the waving grasses. They were joined in the meadow by other flying friends including Northern Rough-wing Swallows and Willow Flycatchers.

Meadow viewingAll the fun looking and chatting among the group encouraged a hearty appetite satisfied by a shared light brunch in and around the barn.

Lunch provided renewed energy and a group ventured on further exploration of some of the nearly 10 miles of trails criss-crossing the Stroud Preserve.

Brandywine at Stroud bridgeFlowering meadows, the East Branch of the Brandywine Creek, multiple bird sightings (Phoebes, Baltimore Orioles), and with irresistible spring perfume throughout the walk and made the morning a total delight.

Crow’s Nest: Visitors’ Center Expansion

We’re adding on to the Visitors’ Center at Crow’s Nest Preserve!

Over the last 15 years, our program offerings at Crow’s Nest (and Natural Lands Trust-wide!) have increased substantially. The summer camp program at Crow’s Nest has grown from one week to five, the number of nature clubs during the school year has increased to five per week, and we’ve added additional weeks of programming to each season of nature club. In the last three years, we’ve also added a program for teenagers who have aged out of our other education programs. Additionally, a number of outside groups use our beautiful Visitors’ Center as a meeting space.

Visitors' Center additionAlong with the increase in programming, we’ve increased our staff. Just five years ago (seems like yesterday!), we only needed office space for our preserve manager, Dan Barringer. Since then, we have added an educator, an assistant preserve manager, a full-year intern, and a summer intern.

Whew! That all amounts to growing pains!

The new addition to the Visitors’ Center will provide office space for these new staff members, additional storage space for the supplies we use in our programs, and public restrooms for preserve visitors.

The Addition

The two-story wing–designed by architect Lou Schneider–echoes historical additions commonly seen on Chester County bank barns like our Visitors’ Center. We think the addition will enhance the look of the barn, and we’re pleased that the Warwick Township Historical Architectural Review Board agreed (and approved our plans).

The upper level will be office space for staff members, while the lower level serve as storage and work space for staff. The lower level will also include a bathroom that is directly accessible from the outside, allowing us to provide restroom facilities to preserve visitors even when a staff member is not available to open the Visitors’ Center.

Construction Timeline

Crow'sNestConstruction began in mid-May, 2015, and (fingers crossed!) will be completed by early-summer 2016.

During construction, the existing portion of the Visitors’ Center will remain open and education programs will run as normal. At times, the trail from the parking lot to the barn may be re-routed through the playground and across the lawn to keep visitors a safe distance from the construction zone.

Funding

A private donor has generously provided the funding for the Visitors’ Center addition.

Learn More

Want to learn more? Give us a call at Crow’s Nest Preserve… 610-286-7955.

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