A Crunchy Hike to Start the New Year

With the forest floor coated in white from the results of the messy storm we received earlier in the week, I decided to visit Woodcock Preserve for some winter birdwatching.

I ambled along the White Trail past the right fork for the Yellow Trail to the “T”-intersection of the White Trail, then proceeded clockwise and again ignored the right fork for the Yellow Trail.  I did, however, veer right once again when I encountered the intersection with the Red Trail.  Shortly after entering that trail, I saw my first bird.

Greeted by sentry (Barred Owl) shortly after beginning Red Trail

Greeted by sentry (Barred Owl) shortly after beginning Red Trail

I was very surprised this Barred Owl afforded me any photo op because the noise resulting from each of my footsteps on that glossy crust resembled what I imagine would be the sound created by walking on cornflake-filled aluminum pie tins.  Only louder!  (Accordingly and not surprisingly, this would be my only bird sighting for this outing!)

Water crossing along Red Trail

Water crossing along Red Trail

Bench at end of Red Trail (@ intersection with White Trail)

Bench at end of Red Trail (@ intersection with White Trail)

Upon making my way back to the main White Trail, I veered right and followed the White Trail over to the Blue Trail.

Sign at entrance to Blue Trail

Sign at entrance to Blue Trail

Upon seeing the seasonal restriction to this portion of the preserve, I decided now would be my best opportunity to view this trail.  I encourage you to take a winter hike to the far southern portion of this preserve and enjoy its remoteness; if you do, be sure to wear rubber boots as there are several seeps along this path.

Very large White Oak - measured nearly 14 feet in Diameter at Breast Height (DBH)!

Very large White Oak – circumference measured nearly 14 feet at chest height!  Accordingly, this tree is estimated to be more than 260 years old.

Pond along Blue Trail - note Winterberry along left shoreline

Pond along Blue Trail – note Common Winterberry along left shoreline

Winterberries along edge of pond along Blue Trail

Winterberries along edge of pond along Blue Trail

Closeup view of Winterberries

Closeup view of Winterberries

Dried floral arrangement emerging from pond ice (Ditch Stonecrop)

Dried floral arrangement emerging from pond ice (Ditch Stonecrop)

Close up view of dried floral arrangement

Close up view of dried floral arrangement

Characteristic pattern created by Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Characteristic pattern created by Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Characteristic pattern created by Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Characteristic pattern created by Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Characteristic oval cavity (top left) and large wood splinters created by Pileated Woodpecker

Characteristic oval cavity (top left) and large wood splinters created by Pileated Woodpecker

After making my way back to the White Trail, I again veered right (continuing my overall counterclockwise progression) and followed this main trail to the “T”-intersection once again and veered left (to briefly repeat a segment earlier during this hike) to the Yellow Trail, which forked to the right.

Nature's vineyard (where maple and hickory trees serve as trellises)

Nature’s vineyard (where maple and hickory trees serve as trellises) – most likely Riverbank Grape

Boardwalk along Yellow Trail (bench in distant background)

Boardwalk along Yellow Trail (bench in distant background)

After returning once again to the White Trail, I veered left to return to the trailhead parking lot along Tanner Road.

Happy New Year and happy trails!

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