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Archive for January, 2016

Crow’s Nest: Come on out, the weather’s fine!

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

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Finally, a week after the big snow, I’ve gotten some time to get out just to enjoy it. It has thawed slightly and refrozen a number of times, packed down a bit, so it’s 8 – 12″ of nice powder. While we had plenty of kids out for Nature Clubs this week there has been a dearth of casual visitors to the preserve. The only cross-country ski and snowshoe tracks out there belong to staff who were inspecting trails, which by the way are fine—if you have a way of staying on top of the snow.

I’m sure there are plenty of people with cabin fever. The days are pretty mild and now is the time to get out to enjoy the snow while it is here!

Crow’s Nest: New trail camera

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

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We have a new trail camera at Crow’s Nest. It’s installed in a random location (i.e. no bait, no animal carcasses to lure scavengers). It has produced a number of nice photos in the last three weeks. I particularly like this pair of photos, possibly the same two deer over the course of a couple different days. The land looks so different at different times of day, and with and without a dusting of snow.
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Our Families: The Unsung Heros

by Tim Burris, Mariton Preserve Manager

It has long been said that being a preserve manager is not a job, or a career – it is a lifestyle.  There are lots of things that come up that can’t be captured by a job description.  Because it is a lifestyle, our families (particularly spouses) have to buy into the dream too.  Maureen does a lot of behind the scenes work at Mariton.  She is there to help set up, clean up, and shop for programs like this weekend’s Meal and a Movie.  She greets preserve visitors on the weekends.  She is the detail person when I am the broad stroke.

Shoveling the roof

After snow storms, she also jumps in to help with snow removal. She runs the snow blower, shovels, plows, and helps pulls out equipment when it gets stuck.  This past weekend, she volunteered to shovel off the flat roofs while I plowed with the tractor.  It is a nasty job after a big snowfall.

Roof raking

This post is in recognition of our families who work behind the scenes to make the preserves special. I spent three days this week on the tractor moving snow.  So I had a lot of time to think about all the things our families contribute for us, and to the preserves we love.

Winter Storm Jonas

This weekend transformed our natural preserves under a blanket of winter snow. Below are photos from Crow’s Nest Preserve, Binky Lee Preserve, and Harold N. Peek Preserve showing the snow-covered barns and icy waters of the natural landscape left in the wake of Winter Storm Jonas.

Photos by Gaby LeBlanc, Steve Eisenhauer, and Daniel Barringer

 

Mariton: We’re open!

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

The Nature Center before the shoveling began.

The Nature Center before the shoveling began.

Mariton’s parking lot is plowed and clear.  The sidewalk to the Nature Center is shoveled.  You can come with your snowshoes and cross country skis to try the trails.  I have only snow-shoed to the bird blind so far.  I hope to check more trails tomorrow.  In the afternoon when the snow is soft, even on snowshoes it was tough walking.  I think in the morning when the crust is frozen, snowshoeing and skiing should be easier.  It was three solid days of snow removal here, but we are in good shape now.

Mariton: Meal and a Movie postponed

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

The Meal and a Movie program scheduled for this Saturday has been postponed until Saturday, January 30 at 7:00 p.m.  The weather forecast sounds like I will be busy plowing snow instead of setting up the Nature Center for the program.  This program features a potluck meal starting at 7:00 p.m.  During dinner, slide shows by some of Mariton’s birders will be screened.  After dinner, we will rearrange chairs and tables and play the feature movie.  To learn more about this program and other Mariton programs, click this link.

Crow’s Nest: Random winter scenes

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

We haven’t had a lot of snow, so these aren’t the expected white-painted landscapes. But it has still been beautiful. This first one was taken one day a couple weeks ago when I was home sick, taken out a bedroom window. Naturally I was disappointed not to be out in this beauty. (That’s a suet feeder on the closest tree, and the stumps across the road are hazard trees that have been taken down in the last couple years.)

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This one below was taken out the bedroom window this evening. I will never take this tree, a butternut (or white walnut, Juglans cinerea) for granted. It’s most spectacular in winter showing off its form. But I took the photo for the hills in the background—though they don’t show up well in photos. That’s Mt. Pleasure in Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in the center background.

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After an afternoon of gloom yesterday the sun passed under the clouds just as it set, lighting up the barn in golden light as the rest of the landscape stayed in the blue wavelengths.

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Finally, a dusting of snow while easement monitoring the other day.

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Volunteer Winter Celebration

On Sunday, we held a Volunteer Winter Celebration here at Hildacy Farm Preserve. Our amazing volunteers help us to maintain our beautiful preserves by doing everything from building trails to planting trees to removing invasive plants. We are fortunate to have such a skilled and dedicated group standing with us for nature.

Volunteer Winter Celebration

Thank you to all of our incredible volunteers!

If you want to volunteer with Natural Lands Trust we have two volunteer events coming up this January. On the 17th, we will clean debris out of a newly-acquired parcel of land and remove invasive vines around Crow’s Nest Preserve. On the 30th, we will be at Stroud Preserve cutting invasive vines that threaten to choke young trees.

We look forward to seeing you outside!

Mariton: 2015 Precipitation

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

At the end of the year, Mariton ended up with 49.34 inches of precipitation. The average from my data collection is 52.80″, so we are about 3.5 inches below average.  That isn’t cause for concern.  My data set ranges from 40.39” – 80.37” for annual totals.  There are eight years with less than 50.00” of precipitation.  In fact, from 1997 through 2002 every year’s precipitation was below 47.00”.  As recently as 2012, we only had 42.81” of precipitation for the entire year.

December really helped out the year’s total. We ended the month with 4.85”  (3.42” is average).  December was one of a handful of months that registered above average rainfall.  You may recall that the end of the year was little dreary.  I had measureable precipitation for 10 straight days at the end of December.

It will be interesting to see how el nino affects the coming year’s precipitation.  Both years of 1997-1998  (a very strong el nino) were well below average at Mariton.  For 2002-2003 (a moderate el nino), 2002 was dry and 2003 was really wet.  Both years of 2009-2010 (another moderate el nino) were pretty close to average.

Crow’s Nest: Annual easement monitoring

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

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It’s that time of year! We’re busy visiting the lands that we hold under conservation easement. It’s not all a walk in the woods; there are a lot of phone calls and emails involved to make the arrangements to visit these lands that owners have made a choice to conserve. There are photos to document the condition of the land, and then maps to prepare showing where the photos were taken, and a report to file before we’re finished. And some of us have 20, 30 or more to do! But I’m always happy to see the care that landowners are taking with their land; people make a difference!

Another winter project is monitoring our own “unstaffed” preserves—that is, lands we own that do not have funding for regular maintenance. These to need to be walked, photographed, and documented, so that we know what to prioritize for the limited time we may spend there over the next year.

The best part is that—so far—we have been able to get started doing this without snow!

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