>> NATURALIST NOTES: May, 2018
Last May while out walking the trails with my then 5 year old, Willow, we came across one of the Nature Center’s many low-lying areas. What made this one special is that the forest floor in this particular spot is plastered with small yellow flowers. Willow was quickly mesmerized by the fact that what at first glance appeared to be a yellow painted meadow was actually acres of tiny yellow flowers. Her excitement quickly grew as we ran home to tell her mother about what she enthusiastically titled - "The million field of flowers". Those flowers lasted only a couple of weeks but during the height of their glory we made several trips to visit them. Now that another spring is here we are waiting patiently for their return. If the suspense is tearing you apart, stop worrying. By the time you read this they will be here, and I'm sure Willow will be more than happy to direct you to "The million field of flowers".
See you on the trails...Marc Gussen, Naturalist
NATURALIST’S NOTES: March, 2018
As the days lengthen and the air temperatures warms, nature gives us many signs that spring is on the way. The harbinger of spring that has the most profound effect on me and on my natural history calendar is the first sighting of aquatic turtles. During winter, ponds and lakes don't seem like hot beds of animal activity, but a lot goes on under the ice. Fish of all kinds can be actively feeding and prepping for the spring breeding season. Being cold blooded doesn't stop fish from enjoying winter, but reptiles like our native eastern painted turtles and northern water snakes must hibernate to survive the cold months. The red-eared sliders are the first of our aquatic turtles to make a showing in the spring, with painted and snapping turtles soon to follow. After months of sleeping in the mud, they awaken as the water temperatures rise and they set out to look for their first meal of the new year. On warm sunny days in March they can sometimes be seen sitting en masse on the rocks around Ruckman Pond soaking up some much needed sunshine. I look forward to seeing the first robin and hearing the first spring peeper; but soon, on a warm and sunny afternoon, a little head will pop up and break the water’s surface marking the end of winter.
See ya on the trails.
Marc Gussen, Naturalist