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Archive for October, 2015

Happy Halloween: Dead Man’s Fingers

by Tim Burris, Mariton Preserve Manager


Rising from the earth…grasping a branch.

I was splitting some firewood this morning and found this fungus know as Dead Man’s Fingers (perhaps Xylaria polymorpha).  It is often found poking out of the ground at the base of rotting tree stumps.  Perhaps you can see the similarity?  Below is a photo that Carole Mebus took during one of our Nature Camps.

Well named fungus.

A well named fungus.



Crow’s Nest: Now with fewer leaves!

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

Actually, there are just as many, they’ve just moved from the trees to the ground.

The preserve is still spectacular after the storm, just different. In the valley this morning, mist.


The view from Northside Road; the mist is in the valley at Harmonyville Road.


Tuliptrees are at peak color, glowing candles of the forest.


A highbush blueberry looks bright in the northern meadows.


Dawn illuminated the underside of these red maple leaves.


Dusk was also beautiful.


Red oaks are now at peak, as are the yellows of beech. Others species are totally bare—the progression of the season.

Crow’s Nest: New benches!

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager


We have just replaced two long-rotted benches that we used to have at Crow’s Nest: one at the Chief’s Grove looking out over the French Creek Valley, and one along the Creek Trail near the culvert. It’s been a couple years since the old ones went back to the earth and we’ve been seeking to replace them since.

Good fortune came when Joe Vinton, the Preserve Manager at Bear Creek, offered a few white oak slabs he milled. We quickly accepted and installed these two this week (two other slabs we are holding for benches in the barnyard that also will need to be replaced soon).


Digging was among the most difficult I’ve experienced—not so many rocks or roots, but the ground was so dry the digging bar and shovel bounced off it like talc. It was most helpful to have the assistance of a post-hole digger (Stewardship Assistant Cody Hudgens)!


Mariton: Fall Colors Part II

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

MEBUS 6884-MaritonFallWalk1027

The crimson foliage of the sumac, maple and Virginia creeper is spectacular, but I am also moved by the yellows and oranges of the Tuliptrees (Lireodendron tulipera) and Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) in Mariton’s forest. It is the “warmth” of the foliage that liberates my thoughts. Here are some of Carole’s photos from Tuesday that feature those hues.

MEBUS 6901-MaritonFallWalk1027-FirstField

MEBUS 6920-MaritonFallWalk1027-TulipPoplarTrees

Mariton: Fall Colors Part I

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

Red Maple Foliage

Red Maple Foliage

We reveled in the fall colors on the Tuesday Nature Walk. Over the last week, the leaves have really been changing at Mariton. Leaves like the Red Maple and Sassafras are just coming into their prime. Yes, some trees lost their leaves after the hard frost, and more leaves will drop during this week’s rain. Still, there are lots of beautiful leaves at Mariton, and the oaks have barely started changing color.  There is lots of time to get out and enjoy the Autumn beauty.

Staghorn Sumac

Staghorn Sumac

As we near the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy (October 29, 2012), it is interesting to think about that storm’s effect on this year’s fall colors. The Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) needs lots of sunlight and we wouldn’t see this species in our woodlands. After the storm, it began colonizing the blowdown areas, (which is probably keeping some of the non-native invasive plants at bay). Sumac’s fall foliage is brilliant, as Carole captured in this photo. (In case you are wondering, this IS NOT the same as Poison Sumac(Toxicodendron vernix). I can almost guarantee that anyone reading this will never come in contact with poison sumac because of where it grows. If you are one of the few that comes in contact with it you already know how to recognize it in the field.)

Red Maple on the forest edge.

Red Maple on the forest edge.

Before the hurricane it was hard to take good photos of the Red Maples (Acer rubrum) in our forest, because they were shielded from view by the dominant Tuliptrees. Now the red maples are on the edges of clearings and loving all the extra sunlight.

Another spectacular Red Maple.

Another spectacular Red Maple.

Since I am showing you Carole’s red foliage shots from our walk, I’ll end with one of my favorites.  The Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissis quinquefolia).  This photo was taken along the stone wall that borders the Turnpike Trail.

Virginia Creeperr

Virginia Creeper

Another beautiful Sunday at Green Hills

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager


This afternoon Force of Nature Volunteer Jim Moffett and I spent some time scouting some possible future trails at Green Hills Preserve. It was a good day for birds, backlit foliage, and native warm-season grasses. I am more than delighted with how the meadows that I seeded in 2014 have turned out (for the first year the growth was weedy but now, even as the blooms of nectar plants have faded, the native warm-season grasses look great).


Above is a silver maple that towers over the farm fields. Below, one of the three farm fields converted to native grasses and wildflowers.


Owen joined us for the adventure. We’ll begin working on these additional trails in earnest next year.


Crow’s Nest: Still great fall color

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

The lack of rain means many plants are suffering and some trees and shrubs have gone straight to brown and dropped leaves. On the other hand, red maples remain glorious but will probably drop their leaves as soon as we have rain.

First, one more photo of the frost that started the week:


The rest of the week has been warm and glorious. Here is the view across the valley from the Chief’s Grove.


Who says fall is all about color? Sometimes it is about texture, such as the feathers of Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) against the trunks of trees already gone dormant.


Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum) we love even when it has stopped blooming.


We also love butterfly weed (Asclepius tuberosa) long after the orange flowers are finished.


Here’s one more look at the native grasses and perennials we planted by the intern apartment steps. The little fence I added to keep our chickens from digging up the garden.


So, fall color remains good this weekend. I hope you have a chance to enjoy it!


Crow’s Nest: Now that’s frost!

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager


It’s balmy again today, but yesterday! I don’t think I have seen such a dramatic effect of sudden cold weather before.

We had some frost Saturday night (about 32 on the porch) but Sunday night it was down to 28 or less at the preserve. Mulberry trees lost their leaves immediately. The catalpa in the yard lost all its leaves in a single day. All the annuals—gone.

Well that’s the time of year!

Crow’s Nest: Leafpeeper alert

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager


We’ve said before here that there isn’t a single peak of fall color—each week showcases a few different species at a time. But this weekend promises to be pretty spectacular!

Black gum has been spectacular and will be finished soon. Red maple, sumac and dogwood are close to peak. Make sure you get out to see some of the autumn action!

Crow’s Nest: The ones that got away

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager


Last week I participated in Philly Photo Day. a project of the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center. That simply means I submitted a photo taken in the Greater Philadelphia Region some time during October 9.


Actually, I took many, but perhaps not as many as I should have (many more didn’t turn out than I had hoped). You’re looking at a few that didn’t make the cut; I could only submit one. All of these were taken at Crow’s Nest Preserve throughout the day while I was working.


The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center will print and display all of the submitted entries, which should reflect a wide variety of perspectives on our region.


I had fun taking the photos and hope they share some of the beauty of the preserve.IMG_3163


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