A woodland sampler…and a glimpse of the Easter Bunny.

A second consecutive glorious spring day…a great way to enjoy an Easter Sunday!

Beginning with Veterans Trail, I hiked the southern half from Route 146A northward and back.  Along the route, I spied Coltsfoot –20140420_150101-Coltsfoot along Veterans Trail

…and Round-lobed Hepatica…DSC03256

…and the Easter Bunny enjoying a shady respite.20140420_142941-Easter Bunny along Veterans Trail

I saw/heard:

  1. tufted titmouse
  2. American goldfinches
  3. red-bellied woodpeckers
  4. mourning dove
  5. house finches
  6. red-tailed hawk
  7. black-capped chickadee
  8. cardinals
  9. ruby-crowned kinglet
  10. song sparrows
  11. pileated woodpeckers
  12. American crows
  13. American robins
  14. white-throated sparrows
  15. turkey vultures
  16. mallards
  17. sharp-shinned hawk

I also saw/heard:

  1. chipmunks
  2. wood frogs
  3. eastern cottontail rabbits (2)
  4. spring peepers

Afterward, I headed over to Shenantaha Creek Park.  That is where I came upon a myriad of woodland wildflowers just beginning to bloom with yet other species setting numerous flower buds.  The next week or two here will see many blooming wildflowers.  Check it out if you have the opportunity to do so – there will be much to see!

Here is a woodland sampler from today:

Sharp-lobed Hepatica

Sharp-lobed Hepatica

Blue Cohosh

Blue Cohosh

Wake Robin

Wake Robin

Trout Lily

Trout Lily

Canadian Wild Ginger

Canadian Wild Ginger

Dutchman's Breeches

Dutchman’s Breeches

I saw/heard:

  1. black-capped chickadees
  2. American crows
  3. American goldfinches
  4. hairy woodpeckers
  5. mourning dove
  6. chipping sparrow

I also saw/heard chipmunks.

I hope you all enjoyed a safe and joyous holiday.  Happy trails!

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A day for birds and more first blooms

Today’s sunshine beckoned me.  I obliged.

First, a visit to the northern half of Veterans Trail to continue my wildflower inventory of this trail.  I headed south of Outlet Road for 1-3/4 mile, then doubled back to the Outlet Road crossing.  While adding another 6 species, I viewed Coltsfoot and this one in bloom:

Bloodroot along Veterans Trail

Bloodroot along Veterans Trail

I saw/heard:

  1. American goldfinches
  2. black-capped chickadees\
  3. killdeer
  4. American robins
  5. house finches
  6. mourning dove
  7. tufted titmouse
  8. white-throated sparrows
  9. song sparrows
  10. cardinals
  11. grackle
  12. hairy woodpecker
  13. yellow-bellied sapsuckers
  14. white-breasted nuthatches
  15. phoebe
  16. pileated woodpeckers
  17. red-bellied woodpeckers
  18. blue jays

I also saw/heard:

  1. red squirrels
  2. spring peepers
  3. wood frogs

My second stop was Ballston Creek Preserve, parking at the small lot near the entrance sign for Shenantaha Creek Park along Eastline Road.

While adding another 4 species to my inventory, I viewed these in bloom:

Carolina Spring Beauty

Carolina Spring Beauty

Round-lobed Hepatica

Round-lobed Hepatica

Spring Beauty

Spring Beauty

After hiking Pat’s Trail out to its end at the edge of the open marsh along Ballston Creek, I spied these birds amongst the heron rookery (sorry the images aren’t better…) –

Osprey near its nest

Osprey near its nest

Great Horned Owl on nest

Great Horned Owl on nest (furthest back, second from right of the four nests shown)

Great Blue Herons on nests in heron rookery

Great Blue Herons on nests in heron rookery

I also saw/heard:

  1. white-breasted nuthatches
  2. hairy woodpeckers
  3. red-bellied woodpeckers
  4. pileated woodpeckers
  5. red-winged blackbirds
  6. American goldfinches
  7. Canada geese
  8. great blue herons
  9. great horned owl
  10. ospreys

I also saw/heard:

  1. chipmunks
  2. wood frogs
  3. gray squirrel
  4. tree swallows

If you have the opportunity to visit Ballston Creek Preserve during the upcoming week, be sure to walk Pat’s Trail from Eastline Road all the way back to its end at the edge of the marsh overlooking the heron rookery along Ballston Creek.  When you get there, scan the heron rookery with your binoculars and enjoy close-up views of great blue herons, the nesting great horned owl and the shy pair of ospreys.  Keep a watchful eye for fast-flying ducks overhead and the resident muskrats swimming near shore.  On your hike through the woods, you will likely see a sea of blooms of Carolina Spring Beauty and Spring Beauty (both shown above).

Happy trails!

Hope Floats…

We all woke up to this…

This is what cruel snow looks like.

This is what cruel snow looks like.

 

But, despite the darkness on this pre-dawn morning, I could faintly here a sound in the distance that renewed my hope of spring.  That sound was coming from a small pond; it was the calls of a few hardy spring peepers.

HOPE FLOATS!

Happy spring!  And, after the snow melts yet again, happy trails!

 

First wildflower bloom of the forest – 2014

At last!

As I was visually scouring the landscape conducting my wildflower inventory along the woodland trail at Shenantaha Creek Park today, I spied this –

Round-lobed Hepatica

Round-lobed Hepatica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The leaves of several other species are beginning to emerge (Trout Lily, Squirrel Corn, Mouse-ear Chickweed, Common Cinquefoil…).  Even better, I found three Wake Robins that had not only emerged but also had grown about 3″ this past week; two of them already had a flower bud forming as well.  Albeit slowly, things are beginning to take on a green “tinge” as plant life is re-emerging after a rather lengthy winter.

While at the park, I also heard/saw:  American goldfinches, tufted titmouse, black-capped chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, wood frogs and spring peepers.

Happy trails!

Birds, not blooms, today along Ballston Creek

Today’s sunshine inspired me to hike along Ballston Creek at two locations conveniently located along Eastline Road across from one another.  Ballston Creek Preserve is located on the west side of Eastline Road in the Town of Ballston.  Shenantaha Creek Park is located on the east side in the Town of Malta.

I did not find any blooming wildflowers today, which was not surprising given the amount of snow/ice that still remains in some spots in the woods.  Spring will require a few more days of warm sunshine like today before we’ll notice much change in plant life.

However, the birds were active and many were filled with song today!

Beginning at Ballston Creek Preserve, I slowly walked along Pat’s Trail, then Sven’s Loop and finally Heron Loop out to the marsh along Ballston Creek.  Here, I saw the following (click on each image to enlarge it for easier viewing) –

Osprey

Osprey

Great Blue Heron on nest in heron rookery along Ballston Creek

Great Blue Heron on nest in heron rookery along Ballston Creek

Great Horned Owl in heron nest

Great Horned Owl in heron nest

Common Merganser

Common Merganser

In all, I heard/saw:

  1. hairy woodpecker
  2. red-bellied woodpeckers
  3. pileated woodpecker
  4. Canada geese
  5. white-breasted nuthatches
  6. American goldfinches
  7. tufted titmouse
  8. cardinal
  9. osprey
  10. phoebes (first sighting this year!)
  11. red-winged blackbirds
  12. red-tailed hawk
  13. blue jays
  14. mallards
  15. wood ducks
  16. common mergansers
  17. great horned owl
  18. American crows
  19. robin
  20. song sparrows
  21. black-capped chickadees

In addition to birds, I also saw/heard 8 white-tailed deer, a gray squirrel and a red squirrel in the woods, and this critter having lunch on the bank of Ballston Creek –

Muskrat

Muskrat

I then took Pat’s Trail back out to Eastline Road, crossed over and continued my way to the nature trail at Shenantaha Creek Park.  The sunshine glistened on the rushing water of Shenantaha Creek (also known as Ballston Creek) –

Looking upstream along Shenantaha Creek

Looking upstream along Shenantaha Creek

In all, I heard/saw:

  1. robins
  2. American crows
  3. black-capped chickadees
  4. American goldfinches
  5. hairy woodpecker
  6. phoebe
  7. chipmunks

A beautiful spring day to be in the woods.  Happy trails!

First Bloom of 2014

At last, something has bloomed.  It has seemed an eternity…to find anything!

First bloom of 2014 - Skunk Cabbage

First bloom of 2014 – Skunk Cabbage

While it was the only species that we found in bloom, there are several species beginning to show signs of new, GREEN, growth!  Another sign that spring is coming…albeit very, very slowly.

I accompanied about a dozen others who joined Jennifer Viggiani (Open Space Coordinator, Town of Clifton Park) for one of her monthly stewardship walks; this one occurred at the Dwaas Kill Nature Preserve.  The Town sponsors each walk at a different nature preserve, park or trail to inform residents of these wonderful open space areas as well as to engage users in an on-site review of the condition and management challenges of each property.

If you haven’t accompanied Jen on one of these, I highly recommend it.  View the schedule of upcoming walks.  To RSVP for a future walk, contact Jen at JenniferV@CliftonPark.org.

Happy Spring!