Mariton: First Fall Walk

September 30, 2014

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.