Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Sunday Stroll

It was a beautiful morning for a stroll last Sunday. The dogwoods were blooming everywhere and bathed the landscape in white, with a few touches of reds and purples from our arboretum specimens. We drove over to the visitors center and started our walk from there. On our way to the Two Ponds Loop area we stopped to visit in the new neighborhood of fairy houses at the bottom of the hill. These are a must-see if you haven't yet and a great thing to recommend for families. Then the ponds offered lots to see. A hatch was in progress, probably craneflies, and more than a hundred cedar waxwings were furiously flying patrols from nearby trees over the water to feast on their good luck. The resident family of Canada Geese (with 6 new goslings) were out for a swimming lesson, oblivious to the activity overhead. At the bridge a red-eared slider came over to see if we were going to set a table for him. A rather large specimen, he was a beauty to observe.

We next walked around the Two Ponds Loop. Chipping Sparrows supervised our visit to their neighborhood. We could hear a Common Yellowthroat, but he stayed hidden. And a male and female Song Sparrow announced the location of their nest. The survivors from the carnage over the ponds were scattered around, resting on the grass. One bug spotted by an NIT is pictured on our website (a photo from last year). He's a common sight near or in the prairie. Butterflies also came by to say "Hi"; Sulphurs, a Cabbage White or two, and a Viceroy (?). We were rather surprised to see that most of the hollies still have their berries. I had thought they'd have ripened and been eaten by now. We noticed the different colors of berries on different specimens.

With time to spare, we decided next to stroll down the new Nursery Loop. There we saw the leaves of Bloodroot and Twinleaf, though neither were in bloom. Some Bloodroots were sporting seed pods. There was lots of Rue Anemone, including some particularly large specimens. Dwarf Larkspur was in abundance, and young enough that the color of the flowers was deep and rich. Violets added their hue of the color too. White violets were also seen, but the exact species escaped us. Sessile Trillium was also abundant. A flower with buds not yet opened might have been White Blue-eyed Grass, and a trip soon to double check would be in order. (This would be a new species for me.) Some Mayapples were seen but were not in bloom. And there was also Solomon's Seal, but again no blooms yet. A good spy by one of the NITs was the leaves of a young Canada Moonseed. Even Butterweed demanded us to notice it. We shortcutted where the loop converges near the middle and made our way back to the visitors center. The sun was already getting hot and the cool of the building was welcome.

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