Tuesday, May 22, 2012

One Trail Twelve Times - May

Pine fireworks (enlarge for more dramatic effect)

The weather was absolutely perfect for May's installment of the One Trail Twelve Times trek, with mostly sunny skies, a light refreshing breeze, and temperatures in the mid-70s (F).  This year-long series of monthly walks along the Beech Springs Trail has been a  bit of a disappointment because I have not developed the "following" of dedicated participants that I had hoped the series would attract, and those who do join me seem more intent on a quick excursion rather than the quiet immersion in the natural world that I had hoped to encourage.  Hardly anyone totes a camera, let alone binoculars or a sketch book.  Kali agreed that last Sunday's walk was the least satisfying to date, with only two participants, both of whom were new, and neither of whom were particularly interactive.  Did they enjoy themselves?  We couldn't tell.

On a personal level, I have enjoyed the series even more than I originally anticipated.  Walking slowly, searching for interesting natural history tidbits to point out, and taking photographs has heightened my awareness, and the differences in the fields and forest each month are amazing.
Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) with a developing "apple."  
A squirrel likely will have snagged this tasty fruit by the time I return in June.

Green and gray bracket fungi on a downed branch

Non-native multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) blooming about two weeks earlier this year, at the wood's edge

The Beech Springs Trail begins in a mature woodland, emerges into sunny old-fields that are reverting to a thicket, enters a second mature woodland that surrounds the eponymous springs, and then ends in an old-field bordered by an allee of old white pine trees (Pinus strobus).  There are myriad habitats to enjoy along the way--the main reason I singled-out this trail.
Blackberries (Rubus spp.) along the woods-field edge

Probably Common Hawkweed (Hieracium vulgatum), a beautiful but non-native ruderal species

Another non-native, Oxeye Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum), hosting a native bee

A native rose (Rosa spp.)
A Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium spp.), of which there are at least 5 species in the eastern US.  
This plant, of course, is not a grass at all, but a member of the Iris family.

A Ladybird Beetle (Coccinellidae) exploring a blade of Deer-tongue Grass (Panicum clandestinum)

Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera) blossom

A Tuliptree petal fallen to the forest floor

From the woods back into the sun


Carolyn H said...

Scott: i think this is an outstanding idea and wanted to ask where you got the idea for it. I do this kind of thing on my own a lot and lately I've been thinking I should better document how things change in the forest from week to week (or month to month). i just haven't planned that part very well yet.

In an way, I'm not totally surprised that you haven't had the same participants each time. This is the kind of natural immersion you and I like, but I'm not sure the casual walker or even the casual home naturalist would "get" it. Unfortunately. I wish I knew how to make them reach that connection.

Scott said...

Carolyn,I borrowed/stole this idea from Barb Holtz,a naturalist with the Cleveland Metroparks. She wrote a nice article for the Metroparks' newsletter summarizing her year, which included the comment, "There were a handful of hikers that came to every program or nearly so." How many are "a handful"? Barb's "catchment" is much larger than mine (she's got all of a populous county and maybe even beyond), while I only have a small watershed, so I'm not surprised that she got more people than I. If you'd like to see Barb's article, you can go to the Cleveland Metroparks website and look through the archives of the "Emerald Necklace" newsletters for the March 2011 edition; Barb's article is entitled "A year in the life of a trail."

packrat said...

Fab photos, Scott. Interestingly, I just posted an image of pine fireworks, too, as well as a large ladybug. I'm sure you'll enjoy the pic I posted of a Mexican Spotted Owl.

I always really enjoy your blog, even though I don't comment on each entry. The dance images were incredible, by the way.

Scott said...

Thanks for the compliment, Packrat. And I'm not just playing "mutual admiration society" when I say that I always enjoy accompanying you and Becca on your desert and mountain walks. Now I gotta' check out your images...

I've never spotted a Spotted Owl.

Jim said...

Thanks for the hike Scott! And the photos, very informative. I really like the 'Blue-eyed Grass'....wonder if it grows in Nova Scotia? Have never seen anything like it here on the eastern shore of N.S.

Scott said...

I'll have to check where Blue-eyed Grass grows when I get back to civilization (i.e., return from vacation next week), Jim.