2012 will be remembered as the year with no winter. The warm temperatures are ushering in Spring and all its blossoms and bird migrations at least 2-3 weeks earlier than usual. I spent my regular Tuesday at the Nature Preserve and couldn’t bear staying inside working on the computer, so I took off in search of Spring.
As expected, the most abundant plants are the invasives, including garlic mustard, multiflora rose, and poison hemlock. Invasives always sprout early and grow quickly to overshadow the native plants. In a few more weeks, this garlic mustard will be waist high and beginning to flower. That’s when we need to have a garlic mustard pulling party and see how much we can remove. It’s a never ending task, but you have to try at least.
We’ve had enough rain that I wanted to look at some of the many springs on the Preserve, and they were in full spate. I like to think how much our ancestors and Native Americans depended on such springs as their source of drinking water. It’s exciting that they still exist today, just bursting out of the limestone hillsides. And the sounds of the water and birds all around were intoxicating! I think I’ll rename this stream Chuckleberry Creek, instead of Little Huckleberry Creek, since it chuckles, and laughs and bubbles all day. You have to love a stream that is so happy all the time!
But then I heard the LOUDEST tapping. Tap, tap, TAP in a tree just above my head. After twisting around, I finally followed the sound into a tree where a beautiful Pileated Woodpecker vigorously dug into the trunk, tossing wood chips aside, as he dug a nest hole. Watch how he props himself against the tree trunk with a stiff long tail.
|False Rue Anemone
As I followed Chuckleberry Creek down the valley, where the habitat was sheltered and moist, I began to see LOTS of wildflowers blooming. For years, I confused the true rue anemone, and the false rue anemone, but both were blooming enthusiastically. But I think I have it straight now – the False rue has Five petals, right Tavia?
|True Rue Anemone
The sessile trillium sprouted along the limestone bluffs in the Hidden Spring valley, and will be in full bloom any time now. Toothwort grows right along side it.
Before long I returned to Frog Pond, reflecting the bare branches and blue sky as the turtles took one glance at me and plopped into the water. All except for one brave little hard shell who glared at me from atop a log just off the bank.
The giant tadpoles were shy too. You wouldn’t think they could see something outside the water, but most of them wiggled into the mud and deeper water as soon as I approached. I think these little guys will grow into big bullfrogs.
To-whee! To-whee! Drink your teeee! The Towhees love all the low bushes and brambles, making it a real challenge to get a clear photo of them, but there’s no mistaking that loud call inviting me to tea.
Tavia will be leading wildflower walks at the Preserve for our Wildflower Open House Saturday on April 21, from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. Then she will be the keynote speaker for Kentucky Native Plant Society weekend at Natural Bridge State Park, April 27 – 29. Check out the Creasey Mahan website for more details. You never want to miss a chance to hear our Tavia speak!