Monday, January 23, 2012

One Trail Twelve Times - January

 Hikers on a newly installed bridge.  Kali stands third from left.

Yesterday was the first installment of a year-long series of hikes I'm going to lead called "One Trail Twelve Times."  I shamelessly stole this concept from a Cleveland (Ohio) Metroparks naturalist who led hikers on the same trail once a month for 12 months to experience the natural world throughout the seasons.

My group is walking a 0.6-mile trail called the Beech Springs Trail, which features venerable old woodlands, expansive goldenrod meadows, and voluminous springs bubbling up from the ground in a grove of American beeches (hence the trail name).
The trail begins in a beatuiful, mature mixed woodland

Lichens encrusting a white oak trunk

 From the woods into the meadows

Goldenrod fly gall produced by the maggot of a peacock fly (Eurosta solidginis [Tephritidae])

Goldenrod moth gall produced by the caterpillar of Epiblema scudderiana

Preying mantis egg case awaiting spring warmth

 One of the eponymous beech springs

Water was flowing beneath the ice

A Pileated Woodpecker had been at work on a non-native bird cherry tree trunk, leaving its characteristic rectangular calling card.

We also encountered a Hermit Thrush at the edge of the woods--a rare, but not completely unexpected winter visitor.

Back out into the meadows to complete the circuit.


Carolyn H said...

Scott: I love doing that kind of thing--hiking the same trail just to see how it changes throughout the year. It really helps me observe what's going on around me to see the same place multiple times.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I hope we get to see all 12 episodes in this adventure. I used to lead walks here in the UK and often returned in different seasons. No walk is ever the same twice.

Cynthia said...

Scott, I love this idea of doing the same walk monthly to observe the seasonal changes! So many people don't learn to look carefully, and this series of programs is a wonderful opportunity to help people do just that.

And the preying manis egg case is terrific! Thanks for sharing.

I might have to steal your borrowed program idea!!

Scott said...

Carolyn: The trail's only 0.6 miles long, and, at the beginning, some of my fellow hikers asked, "What are we going to do for 1-1/2 hours?" Well, we actually were out for 1-3/4 hours because everyone was finding interesting things to observe (as I knew they would), and I think we only came in after 1-3/4 hours because everyone was getting cold, not because there weren't interesting sightings.

Scott said...

John: It's my intention to post after each of the walks, so stay tuned! I "previewed" the walk three days before the official guided hike. The preview walk was on a sunny, warm afternoon with no snow, so the experience was certainly different three days later. I'm glad it snowed for the official walk, too, because we've had very little snow this winter, and it may have been our only chance to experience the trail with snow.

Scott said...

Cynthia: I'm a little disappointed in the images of the insect "structures," including the preying mantis egg case. The light was low and sombre in late afternoon, and the images reflect that. I'm going to have to work on my photography with my new camera, which has so many bells and whistles I may never master it unless I make a concerted effort.

packrat said...

What an excellent idea, Scott. I wish I could join your group on those excellent adventures. (BTW, I responded to your "chipper/mulching" comment on my blog.)

Scott said...

I wish I could claim ownership of the good idea, Packrat, but I stole it shamelessly. Since you're 2,350 miles away, you'll have to join us virtually after each walk.