March 16, 2012
Herb Amyx and I continued our explorations of the undocumented areas of the Park around the Osprey nesting site. The trail wanders down through piney woods where large oak trees still mark the sites where farmhouses existed until the land was acquired in 1978 by the U.S. Corps of Engineers in preparation for the damming of theNeuseRiver. One wonders how any farming succeeded on the hilly slopes, but we did spot the remains of a few Mangum terraces.
As we neared the nesting site, the Ospreys took to the air. It was not clear whether we startled them or whether they were reacting to the approach of a fisherman in his small boat. Despite our view being obstructed by the trees, I was amazed at the spread of the Ospreys’ wings as they left the belt of trees and headed to the far bank of the lake. It was heartening to know that the pair have returned to the nest this year.
We wandered through the trees parallel to the edge of the lake, casting our eyes down to search for wildflowers. Our first reward was spotting Rue anemone just coming into bloom. Each plant was well separated from the next and each had just a solitary blossom. One would think that a colony would consist of clumps of plants, but not so.
Then to my delight we spotted newly emerged Mayapples under the Hornbeam trees. This is the first place where I have spotted Mayapples at theB.W.WellsPark, so it is a welcome addition to our knowledge of the Park. Both the Mayapples and Rue anemone were growing on a hillslope that faced north. Our third find was colonies of Oxalis growing alongside the Mayapples. That seemed odd to me as I normally associate Oxalis with more sunny areas.
Traversing further, we reached the belt of buckeyes, which in the space of two weeks had opened their leaves completely. As a photographer, I was disappointed that none of the leaves showed any trace of bronze color on the leaves – they were all green. It is the bronze contrast that adds so much to the photographic images. A short distance along, we reached the colony of pawpaw trees, which seemed to have made no progress in two weeks. The leaf buds were still tightly clasped. Good, that gives us an excuse for another excursion later on.
Overall we were struck by how much further advanced the wildflowers are along the Eno River at Penny’s Bend in Durham County, than along the Neuse River at Stony Hill in Wake County. Surely there cannot be that much difference in daily temperatures. Or is it the soil type that makes the difference? Penny’sBendis in the heart of the diabase dike region, while Stony Hill soils are of varied types from an island arc formation,
Finally I was very amused to find a Cranefly orchid, (and a Japanese honeysuckle) gowing in this hollow tree.