Mariton: A Bear Creek Field Trip

May 28, 2015

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

The Mariton Birders are always game to check out new spots.  So, when Joe Vinton told me he was doing a Bird Walk for NLT at Bear Creek, I asked the Birders if they would like to go.  Silly question.  I filled the van with “nature nuts” and we headed north.  Joe Vinton is the Preserve Manager at Bear Creek.  I can’t say enough good things about what Joe, his assistant Tyler, and the many volunteers have done at this preserve.  The trails are wonderful.

The tail end of a Black-throated Blue Warbler

The tail end of a Black-throated Blue Warbler

Almost immediately we were greeted by the song of a Black-throated Blue Warbler.  Since they rarely breed at Mariton, it was wonderful to see them so plentiful in a place they like – and they definitely like Bear Creek.  We got to see lots of them, which was very cool.  (Here is a tip:  if you are camera shy, you can’t complain when the photographer takes a less than complimentary photo.)

This is a more representative photo that Carole took at Mariton.

This is a more representative photo that Carole took at Mariton.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

We also heard a Chestnut-sided Warbler very early in the walk.  I associate this species with brushy areas, but we heard them continuously as we walked through Bear Creek’s forest.  This is an amazingly beautiful warbler.  We saw them several times, even though (like most warblers) they were constantly in motion.  On the ride home, Bob made the comment that we heard Black-throated Blues and Chestnut-sided Warblers singing continuously on our hike.  Amazing.

MEBUS RoseBreastedGrosbeakBearCreek0527-3

We didn’t hear many Rose-breasted Grosbeaks singing, but this one posed for everyone to see.

Painted Trillium

Painted Trillium

When we weren’t birding, we admired the many wildflowers growing along Bear Creek’s trails.  This Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum) was stunning.  We also saw Wild Lily of the Valley, Pinksters, Sheep Laurel,  Wild Bleeding Heart, Bunchberry and other great wildflowers in bloom.  Since the habitat is so very different from Mariton and our usual birding spots, these were great finds for our group.

This field trip was important for me, because it reminded me that all the things that I am “used to seeing” at Mariton are still very special, and would be viewed with awe by someone coming from a different region.  Someone once told me that using the word treasure was inappropriate when talking about natural wonders.  They said treasure should be reserved for paintings, sculptures, and great pieces of art.  Sorry, but I don’t buy that.  Bear Creek and the other NLT Preserves are as rich as any museum, and filled with world class treasures.  I am still fascinated (and humbled) by the beauty.