Sunday, May 4, 2008

Your Forest, Your Adventure

Jefferson Memorial Forest sits atop 6,191 acres in the Knobs of Southern Jefferson County. Going there is like traveling to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky in only 20 minutes. The road winds in sharp switchbacks to the top of the ridge, while narrow streams cascade down crossing from one side of the road to the other. In times of flash flood, this is not a good place to be, I'm sure. Dick just completed his training to volunteer at the forest, and we went to explore, since I had never been there at all. "Mixed deciduous" is the key phrase to this forest, with good combinations of maple, several varieties of oak, beech, and hickory, along with pine and cedar trees - the forest with something for everyone.

The trail we took down to Mitchell Lake runs along a ridge, level with the treetops. Step off the trail even a bit though, and you might tumble down to the bottom of a steep valley. This gives a slight advantage to the birder, reducing the risk of injury through Warbler's Neck, since you don't have to look straight up all the time. The warblers still hide among the leaves, and flit from one tiny branch to another. They want to see us, without us seeing them. I think they count points and keep score. Our big find of the day was a Rose Breasted Grosbeak, who stayed in the same general area long enough to be photographed several times. A Yellow Rumped Warbler kindly turned around to show off his namesake. An Eastern Towhee moved every time I found him in the binoculars, as usual. Other small birds were not cooperative, and I have emailed pictures of two mystery birds to Brainard Palmer-Ball, my birding expert. Any one else want to take a shot at identifying these birds?








We whispered, trying to avoid spooking the birds, when we heard a crashing through the underbrush. A large brown figure dashed uphill, and at first I thought it was a doe. The second one that came along let me look a little closer, and it was coyote! Good think they weren't hungry.

The Mayapples were blooming, although some had yellow spots on their leaves. Blight? There is a blight and leaf spot disease they get. After finding no Jack in the Pulpit at Natural Bridge, we were delighted to find a whole hillside of them right here at home. Among the Jack in the Pulpit, were a collection of Trilliums with larger leaves than we saw last week. Trilliums have three leaves, of course, but I never knew that Jacks have three leaves too. Early Spiderworts also have three petals, but the leaves are straight. Tiny Bluets lined the trail down to the lake.



A beautiful day, with my favorite husband, doing something we both enjoy. What could be better?

2 comments:

Bob Lenning said...

One of the warblers is a very hard ID, not very descript, breast not showing, possibly a female. But I feel that the other is likely a yellow-breasted chat, though the tail is not in the most common position.

Kathy Dennis said...

Excellent! I heard back from Brainard, and he says the bird on a stump is a female Indigo Bunting, and the other is the Yellow Chat, which I had never seen before. This one has a bigger eyebrow than the one in the book, so I wasn't sure.