Spring is a wonderful time to explore the world around us. The season is marked by rapid changes, from migrations big and small to the budding and sprouting of flowers, trees and everything in-between. Over the next few weeks, we’ll help you rediscover some of our local areas while highlighting the interesting things you can expect to see as you explore. This first introduction should give you an idea of what to expect of the coming weeks as we dive deeper into each topic. Feel free to jump ahead or behind and self-explore these areas at your own pace or interest. Many of these locations feature interesting things aside from the featured topic and we will highlight some alternatives for potentially re-visiting as the season rolls on.
We will also hold a photography session each week and feature one of the submissions in the next week’s blog post!
Each week, ClearWater will deliver your personal guide to explore the outdoors, along with fun things you can do at home to bring the outdoors, inside! Use the form below to sign up and receive weekly exploration guide to the outdoors!!
Our first week will follow amphibians on their perilous journeys from their homes to the spring mating pools and back out into the wilderness. A great place to witness this migration is in the northeast corner of the Scotia Barrens. Though great care should be taken with these little dudes and dudettes. Please don’t drive along Scotia Range Road after dark, as their migrations often take them over the road and it is very easy to squish these sensitive species. Handling is also not advised as their skin is very fragile. The best plan is to park at Graysdale park close to nightfall and take a quick stroll in the direction of Ten Acre Pond. Remember to bring a flashlight if you are planning on staying out after dark.
The American woodcock is a strange bird with a equally strange mating ritual. These small shorebirds prefer shrubby open spaces that allow them to move their less-than-streamlined bodies under cover. The real show takes place either in the early morning or late evening when the males perform a truly impressive aerial acrobatics display. Any brush-filled open space is likely to contain a couple of these birds, but the eponymous woodcock trail is often very consistent. They are easy to identify by the male’s unique “peent” call followed by the whirling of their wingtips as they soar to over 200 feet in the air.
Spring time is synonymous with flowers. From rue anemone to trillium and columbine to jack-in-the-pulpit, a wide variety is present along the Spring Creek Canyon Trail. Many of these early-blooming species can be found on many trails throughout our region, by few trails have the diversity and density of these pretty petals. It is often worth revisiting the trail every week to see what new blooms have opened and what others have started to go to seed.
Spring Creek Canyon
The return of the leaves on the trees often feels like it happens overnight. Centrally located in the Rothrock State Forest is the Alan Seeger Natural Area, home to some of the oldest trees in our area. Many of hemlocks are well into their second century and a number of the other tree species in the area are nearly as old. Faster-growing trees, like birches and aspen, tend to leaf out in the early spring. The oaks and maples, which dominate many of our forests, begin to green a little later. The last trees to produce leaves are often the warmer climate species that include catalpas and hickories.
Not all bugs are bad! With the spring awakening often comes the many varieties of insects that rapidly progress through their life stages in an effort to produce their progeny. Many aquatic insects begin to take steps to leave the water and, in most cases, take flight to mate and reproduce. A good number of these bugs can be found in and around the stream at Millbrook Marsh Nature Center. The hatches are often heavily coordinated among the same species resulting in fantastic displays of the millions of insects all vying to find a mate in swarms often near the water.