Monday, April 8, 2013

Sunny Spring Saturday

A father and his two sons fishing in the county park downstream of "my" preserve
Saturday (April 6) was the warmest, sunniest day of the year so far, and Kali and I (and hordes of others) took to the trails of the county park downstream of "my" preserve.  Parking was at a premium in the lot - something that doesn't usually happen until summer, but it's easy to understand why everyone would want to be outside following the winter that wouldn't end.

The entrance station and picnickers at the county park
Most of the hilly park is wooded and laced with well maintained graveled trails (so that the rangers can patrol easily), but there's also a large, developed picnicking area adjacent to the creek.  In addition, the park shares a border with a teaching farm maintained jointly by the municipal school district and the municipal park district.  Cattle can be seen in the pastures on sunny days. 

Cattle at the teaching farm
After we photographed the cattle, our trail veered into the woods where I photographed the woodland understory dominated by invasive, non-native lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) - and not much else.  This slope is high above the floodplain (the typical haunt of R. ficaria, demonstrating that once the plant gets established, nothing stands in its way).  Note also that there are no young understory trees in the woods thanks to the abundant deer that roam the park.  The county has a management hunt each year, but the park is largely surrounded by suburban housing that provides plenty of refugia for the deer during the hunts.

Lesser celandine carpeting a dry, upland wooded slope
Our walk then took us onto the old railbed running parallel (and above) the creek.  The county has converted the rail right-of-way into a popular trail.

Lots of folks enjoying the stream
Lesser celandine in its "rightful" place along the creek
When we returned home, we were greeted by a large flock of Wild Turkeys (Meleagris  gallopavo).  Over the winter, the flock consisted only of older toms, but now that spring has arrived, the older toms have been joined by last year's males (called "jakes") and by a flock of hens.  Kali and I spread sunflower seeds for the turkeys because we enjoy seeing them, and it keeps them around the house.  The hens will begin selectinbg nesting sites any day now, and will disappear for about two months until they show up again accompanied by their passel of chicks.

Wild Turkeys and Siberian squill (Scilla siberica)
One of the things I'll miss when we move to Colorado (but which might be replaced by elk!)


packrat said...

I love wild turkeys, Scott. What does that make me? You may well get to see turkeys in Colorado, but there's nothing quite like spotting elk in the wild.

Scott said...

Kali and I love the turkeys, too, Packrat. They're a popular draw at my preserve; I almost never fail to get a question regarding their whereabouts from visitor if the turkeys not immediately obvious.

Kali and I generally are not knicknack collectors, but since the turkeys have been around, we've built an extensive collection of turkey figurines, salt-and-pepper shakers, Christmas ornaments, and all things turkey (though only of the highest quality; we draw the line at junk--and there's plenty of that out there).