Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring Growth along Meetinghouse Creek

Today Daisy and I hiked to Meetinghouse Creek to check on the Tufted Titmice I saw there, building a nest in a beech tree. Just before I came to the creek, I scrambled up the steep hill so that I could look across and be at eye-level with the nest. I located the beech tree and used my binoculars to zoom in. I looked and looked, hoping to see some activity, but saw nothing. I did hear many bright and cheerful CHIVA! CHIVA! CHIVA! titmouse songs in the woods though, and imagined the parent birds out there teaching the kiddies how to fly.

As I made my way back down the steep bluff I looked around the almost vertical hill and started noticing how many plants like to grow there. I pulled out my journal to make a list of what I saw and wondered... are there more plants growing there than elsewhere in the woods because of the relatively cool, damp environment, or is it simply that the deer can't reach them? Maybe a little of both.

I sat next to the creek and continued the list. So many plants I recognized, but wait - what was that? Opposite, spring-green leaves with long slender petioles grew at the top of a 5" woody stem. No idea... Then on the other side of me, practically in the water, grew another mystery plant, this one with purple leaves with bright pink midribs. In my excitement of discovery, I saw a third mystery leaf, drew it, but once home realized that it is the single leaf of the Barren Strawberry that I discovered just last week... a seedling perhaps?

Daisy followed my every move today as I slowly made my way up the creek in this area we call Coon Hollow, trying not to get my shoes wet. She walked right down the middle while I criss-crossed and rock-hopped, occasionally holding on to her for balance. This worked ok, but I did finally miss a rock and got one shoe wet. As I was checking out my wet foot I noticed another little mystery plant growing in the sand along the creek. Last years tiny stem, wiry and brown, sprouted this years new growth of two bright green stems holding pairs of equally bright, small round leaves. The plant was only four inches high.

Also along this stretch of creek I saw the expected Raccoon tracks in the sand, and found a new patch of Robin's Plantain about to bloom. I saw Chickadees, a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, several Tiger Swallowtails fluttering by, but I never did see the Tufted Titmouse family. Maybe tomorrow!

The steep bluff with new growth of Wild Hydrangea

Looking up at a patch of Solitary Pussytoes

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