Mariton: Late April Dispatch
by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager
This time of the year is wonderful for a Nature Nut/Preserve Manager like me. The wildflowers pop up faster than I can keep track. The neotropical birds appear in the woods overnight, and every morning the woods feature a new bird song. Things are happening in the nest boxes. And yes, as a Preserve Manager the workload also balloons and challenges me. As time allows, I’ll inform readers of some of the goings-on at Mariton. Some entries may be brief, but it is such a marvelous time of year that I really want to share it with others.
This week we had bluebird eggs in one of the nest boxes. We have other bluebird nests that should have eggs soon. We also have Chickadees building nests. Pretty exciting.
On a recent bird walk, a pair of Wood Ducks landed in a tree. Wood ducks will nest in hollow trees quite a distance from water. When the chicks hatch, they will drop to the ground (sometimes 60 feet) and then follow their mother to water and learn to forage for themselves. I see Wood Ducks land in trees at Mariton almost every year. While Mariton has tree cavities that would be ideal for Wood Ducks, I’ve never seen them actually nest here. Still, when I see them whistling through the forest and land on a branch it gives me some pride that the ducks found Mariton’s forest worthy of their investigation.
On the bird walk, we took a little detour just to admire the Early Saxifrage (Saxifraga virginiensis). There were other more flamboyant species in bloom. But there is just something about the Saxifrage growing in thin soils in the middle of a rocky trail that makes a Nature Nut want to admire it for its unassuming demeanor. The overall silhouette of the plant is so artistic. A wonderful plant that is not showy, but classically beautiful.