Monday, April 14, 2014

More Spring Adventures at Bernheim Forest

Eastern Meadowlark
Saturday morning, I taught a Birding 101 class for about 15 of the Naturalists in Training at Bernheim Forest and Arboretum, for my good friend and mentor, Wren Smith. After the classroom presentation, we went outside to see what we could find with our new birding skills, and to practice using binoculars, which I admit to be one of the hardest parts of birding. By the time I find the bird and focus on it, it's often gone. I'm good at hearing the birds, and identifying the more common ones by ear, but I've never felt comfortable leading a walk and being able to direct people to the actual bird in the tree. However, we heard some good candidates to be called in from the Meadow, including this outstanding Meadow Lark. As soon as I played his call, he sped over to us, circling the group, eyeing us for the rival Lark. He moved from perch to perch for the next 20 minutes, still on the alert, so we got some great chances to view him.
Red-tailed Hawk
Overhead in the clear blue sky a large Red-tailed Hawk showed off her identifying marks for my new birders. A Turkey Vulture and Black Vulture soared close together so they could see the easy difference between those species. Purple Martins chittered around their gourd nest boxes. All in all, it was a terrific morning.
In a week, the wildflowers can change a lot, so after class I returned to the Rock Run Trail, known as the best wildflower spot in the forest. Last week, the creek was full of water from earlier storms, but Saturday, the upper part was dry, as usual, while the lower part of the trail had water from a spring. I don't remember ever seeing so many large clusters of Bloodroot as I have this year. I think of them as being solitary blooms usually.
Yellow Trout Lily with Green Pollinator
On this sunny afternoon, all the flowers were completely open, and the pollinators were busy, busy, busy.  I always enjoy seeing the variety of pollinators, including different bees, beetles and flies. The tiny Pussy-toes were full of eensy-weensy little flies. 
White Violets
Wren suggested I look around the Sun and Shade Trail, near the headwaters of Lake Nevin for more flowers. In the mowed areas, the ground was purple and white with Common Violets and White Violets. 
Magnolia Blossom
Bernheim is famed for its flowering trees in the spring, and the main road was lined with Bradford Pears and pink Magnolias in full bloom. The Dogwoods are just beginning to come out.
In the woods by Lake Nevin, I found the first Twinleaf I've seen at Bernheim. Many were in bloom while the leaves were still small and almost closed.
Only 30 minutes away from Louisville, Bernheim Forest is such a wonderful resource, both in their people, programs and natural resources. I am so glad to to be part of it!

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