Thursday, May 8, 2008

Spring at Crosby Park

Last Saturday morning I woke up and immediately looked outside, expecting to see an inch of snow on the ground and more on its way down. But there was no snow, no precipitation at all, and the sun looked like it was fighting to peek out! Good thing, since we had a birding hike at Crosby Park in St. Paul.

We had a fairly small group (I suspect because of the forecast), but a nice size for birding, and the good fortune of 3 guides. We saw about 40 species, including lots of warblers (yellow-rumped,
black-and-white, and palm to name a few), a ring-necked duck, a green heron, a broad-winged hawk, and a blue-winged teal.

In addition to the birds, spring woodland wildflowers were everywhere! I was thrilled to see lots of Dutchman's breeches in bloom. They are a small spring ephemeral with flowers that look like upside down pants hanging on a clothes line. There were also tons of marsh marigolds surrounding the pond, large-flowered bellwort on the hillside with their pretty yellow droopy flowers, and bloodroot back in the forest.

Later in the week I pulled garlic mustard with a group from Aveda at a site upriver from the marina at Crosby. The area we worked in was full of trout lilies, jack-in-the-pulpits, and wild ginger, as well as other beautiful little native wildflowers.

Native woodland plants complete their entire life cycle in the spring before the trees and shrubs really leaf out, and spring ephemerals then disappear entirely for the rest of the year. These plants are up against several formidable threats: garlic mustard, earthworms, and deer among them. So every plant I see in the woods seems like a sign of hope, a tough survivor fighting for life and winning - so far. It also is a reminder of why we and hundreds of volunteers work so hard to help them in their fight.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can someone please tell me what type of trees are at Crosby Park along the river with those big old roots growing out of the sand? Thanks! Linda Lee