Look for this feature early each week! Cam Mannino shares her latest observations, photos, and inspirations from Bear Creek Nature Park. Thanks Cam!
This Week at Bear Creek
By Volunteer Park Steward, Cam Mannino
Welcome to the first post for “This Week at Bear Creek.” As a long time BC walker and photographer, I’ve long considered a narrative photo blog with that title. So I’m happy that Dr. Ben has offered the idea a home here in the Notebook. I’ll try to keep you informed about the abundant wildlife and plants in the park as well as stewardship opportunities and other events. The plan is to post once a week in the spring, summer and fall (with a hiatus or two for Real Life and vacations) and a bit less in the winter when the park is quieter and walking’s more challenging. So let’s begin with:
March 29 – April 4, 2015
Last Wednesday I accompanied Ben and Sigrid Grace, an enthusiastic birder, on a bird walk through Bear Creek. We saw 25 bird species that early morning, so I’ll focus on bird arrivals and departures this week.
As we entered the park, Ben spotted a red fox running at full lope across the field toward the woods, his tail streaming behind him. Too fast for a photo that day but here’s a photo of a red fox at a trot from 2013.
Spring migration is off to a great start. The Song Sparrow’s arrived and is already singing with gusto.
Ben heard the rattling call of a Sandhill Crane.
A Great Blue Heron flew high overhead, perhaps just back from its winter stay on the Florida or Gulf coast.
And the Common Grackles with their white eyes, iridescent blue heads and rusty-gate voices are tilting their beaks skyward in an attempt to establish a pecking order.
Red-winged Blackbirds trill, Canada Geese honk and Mallard Ducks cackle in the marsh near Gunn Road, establishing their territories among the reeds.
We saw a large flock of Cedar Waxwings fluttering between bushes and trees. No way of knowing whether these elegant birds spent the winter here or just rode in on the south wind the night before.
Soon the Dark-eyed Juncos will be leaving for Canadian forests and the modest Tree Sparrows will be heading to Canada’s far north to build their nests of ptarmigan feathers on the tundra.
Human visitors will notice that the Eastern parts of the Oak-Hickory Forest near Gunn Road received a “prescribed burn” the previous week. This professionally controlled, slow-moving, low burn discourages invasive plants and trees like Autumn Olive and Buckthorn. Be patient and in a few short weeks, all that black ash, full of nutrients, will nourish new growth. The thin spring sunlight filtering through the bare limbs should bring us more Spring Beauties and Blood Root, two of the earliest and most beautifully delicate spring woodland flowers. We’ll let you know when they began to emerge.
Thanks for sharing This Week at Bear Creek. If questions occur to you, comment below and I’ll try to find answers. And of course, please share your week at Bear Creek in the comments as well.