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Crow’s Nest: Eastern newt

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

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We found this juvenile Eastern newt (Notophalmus viridescens) crossing the road at the visitor center barn at Crow’s Nest yesterday. This species has an unusual life cycle because the adults return to the water and become an aquatic species like they are when they are larva. The terrestrial stage we are most likely to see in rainy woods is also known as a red eft.

Happy Earth Day!

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

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In our line of work, every day is Earth Day. But today is special too, so Happy Earth Day!

We’ll be planting a few trees at Crow’s Nest Preserve as well as removing invasives to improve habitat. Other Natural Lands Trust staff will be working at Sadsbury Woods Preserve today, where Darin (“Go big or go home”) Groff has 1,600 trees to plant. We held a prescribed fire to maintain Serpentine Barrens at Willisbrook Preserve yesterday, and we have a full schedule of kids’ programs this week.

Mainly, we’re all grateful that spring has arrived!

P.S. Did you happen to hear Natural Lands Trust featured on WXPN today? If you missed the interview, listen here: NLT on WXPN 4-22-14

Crow’s Nest: Bloom update

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

What a difference a week makes! Last week we had red maples blooming, plus some alder catkins and skunk cabbage was finishing blooming and beginning to leaf out.

A day later we added spicebush and bloodroot. The bloodroot flowers have been abundant this year, though the two nights of hard frost and snow did rumple them, so they didn’t stay showy. I have seen wood anemone and our Educator, Molly has reported seeing spring beauties (Claytonia virginica). We found this willow in bloom too.

photos from Garner addition to Crow's Nest

In the next couple days the shadbush will be out, and then, who knows? Trout lily foliage is up so the flowers won’t be long; Solomon’s seal is unfurling.

This morning it is paradise at the preserve. While I walked with the dog (on leash, of course) I saw four wood ducks on French Creek, a red-headed woodpecker (they seem quieter now but they’re still here), heard the gobble of turkeys, and enjoyed the sights and sounds of early spring.

Delaware River Sojourn

by Tim Burris, Mariton Preserve Manager

Delaware River Sojourn

Registrations have begun for the Delaware River Sojourn.  The Sojourn will be held from June 22 – 28 this year.  This is the Delaware Sojourn’s 20th Anniversary, so expect something special.  Sojourns allow kayakers and canoeists to experience this tremendous natural resource up close and personal.

The River

Each year the Delaware Sojourn samples different river sections, which allows folks to learn the river with back up from a stellar safety crew.  There are also great programs, so you learn about the river as well as where to put in and take out.  You can sign up for the entire week, or you can pick and choose the days (sections of River) that you want to paddle.  The fee includes boats and equipment, camping, shuttle transportation and most of the meals (and the food is great).  If you bring your own equipment, your boat transport is provided.  You don’t need to carry camping gear in your boat; you move that in your car when we move campsites.

Exchanging experience

I’ve been doing the Delaware Sojourn for several years and here are some my reasons for returning.

  1. The River.  The Delaware is an awesome (in the true sense of the word) resource in our backyard.  It is a wonder to spend time on it.
  2. The other people.  The folks that participate are fun and interesting.  I learn as much from fellow sojourners as I do from the educational programs.
  3. The sights and sounds.  I have witnessed some unbelievable wildlife sightings while on the Sojourn.  The scenery and landscape is captivating.
  4. New sections.  I like the fact that we paddle some new sections each year. I learn the accesses, the safe lines through rapids, and other knowledge that makes me confident to go back on my own.
  5. The educational programs.  Biology, ecology, geology, history, etc.  Interesting people addressing interesting subjects.

Education

So, if you can take some time in June, I strongly recommend this staycation.

Good Food

First (belated) prescribed fire of the year…

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

Finally the weather cooperated and was within prescription for a burn on a Natural Lands Trust preserve. Today we burned an 18-acre warm-season grass meadow at Gwynedd Wildlife Preserve. Usually by this date in spring we’re all finished, but spring has arrived late this year. In the photo below the point of ignition is at the upper right, and one crew is working right to left across the top of the field and our crew is working toward me (I was staffing the truck-mounted water pump so was on standby). The wind was the reverse of what we usually experience at this site, so we just burned from the opposite corner so that we could have a backing fire creeping back into the wind.

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The end result: habitat managed for wildlife and native plants. Prescribed fire mimics a natural process, creates the conditions where  desirable grassland species thrive.

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We have a great crew of well-trained, reliable staff that comes together for these burns. We’ve been doing these for almost 20 years (so I don’t have digital photography that goes back that far).

Crow’s Nest: Spring WebWalkers, WebWanderers, WebWigglers

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

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Our spring nature clubs are underway. The kids are exploring the preserve as it awakens from winter. Each week this spring the preserve will be a bit different; new discoveries await.

 

Pennsylvania Master Naturalist Program registration open

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

The Pennsylvania Master Naturalist Program is accepting applications for its fall semester 2014. Modeled a bit on the Cooperative Extension Master Gardening Program, Master Naturalists receive training in return for volunteer time they give back.

Participants gain training in natural history and nature interpretation and give back to the community by volunteering as educators or by undertaking restoration projects. Training will be held in Bucks, Chester, and Lancaster Counties this fall.

Schuylkill River Sojourn in June

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

Registration is open for the 16th annual Schuylkill River Sojourn June 7 – 13, sponsored by the Schuylkill National and State Heritage Area.

I always mention that paddling along a river through an otherwise familiar landscape is a different and wonderful way of seeing a place. The Sojourn website also states the not-so-obvious but obvious: the river itself is different each year. The route is the same but river changes.

Crow’s Nest: Why is this man smiling?

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

volunteer day

A few Force of Nature volunteers braved the beautiful weather and multiflora rose thorns to cut invasives at Crow’s Nest this weekend. It’s not easy work, but very satisfying, and a huge help to us at the preserve. We made great progress along a hedgerow, cutting multiflora rose,   bittersweet, and a little bit of shrub honeysuckle, privet, and winged euonymous. All of these are starting to leaf out now and cutting them will give the native species a bit more of a chance, and make our efforts to manage this hedgerow easier all year.

Our gang enjoys being very thorough and takes pride in their work. Volunteer Don Miller is smiling because he is satisfied with work well done. Thank you all!

Nature Photography Workshop!

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

I attended the Natural Lands Trust photography workshop with professional photographer and nature adventure guide Kevin Loughlin at Hildacy Farm this weekend. I gained a lot of information in a short time.  The workshop was small enough that each of us had time to ask him questions about our camera and address individual needs. Kevin solved at least three technical questions I had about my camera, confirmed a couple things I was doing right, and gave me lots of ideas to improve my photos.

We spent some time wandering around the wetland at Hildacy as Kevin made suggestions for subjects, camera settings, lighting and angles. All the criticism was constructive. Now I really see the value of workshops like these; this is the first one I ever attended.

Here are my favorite photos from the day. Please note that Kevin didn’t choose or critique these.

The spillway above the springhouse:

Hildacy photography workshop Kevin Loughlin

Sedges emerging from the wetland:

Hildacy photography workshop Kevin Loughlin

River birch bark… backlit instead of straight-on:

Hildacy photography workshop Kevin Loughlin

The barn, reflected in the wetland:

Hildacy photography workshop Kevin Loughlin

Japanese pachysandra growing in the stream (who knew it could do that?):

Hildacy photography workshop Kevin Loughlin

Sycamore tree and shadow on the meadow:

Hildacy photography workshop Kevin Loughlin

Next time one of these workshops is held—sign up. It was a bargain and very worthwhile.

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