Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sycamore, Warblers: Mohican State Forest

Mohican State Forest is a lovely place to visit any time of year, but spring time unfolds its special charms. Along the riparian corridor, deep in the Mohican Gorge, sycamore trees line the edge of the steep rock and Hemlock covered slopes. Greg and Leslie Cornett, and I recently took a most enjoyable stroll along the northern trail.

............ Photo by Greg Cornett

A first of the year migrant, this charming little Yellow-throated Warbler was perched at our eye level- from our perch high above the river on the famous covered bridge. Dancing from limb to limb to search the crevices of the Sycamore's exfoliating bark for spiders and other tasty fare, he was quite the show stopper.

A Rough-winged Swallow stopped by the same Sycamore to rest from its many forays, up and down the Clear Fork River in a quest for flying insects.
The spring ephemerals were still on display, and the Covered Bridge Trail was lined with Dutchman's-breeches, Dicentra cucullaria as well as its fragrant cousin Squirrel Corn, Dicentra canadensis.

Leslie peered into the foliage where we last heard the calls of a Black-throated Green Warbler as we were about to climb those exposed tree roots, which create a stairway to the next level of the forest. It eerily looked like something straight out of a Tolkien novel.

The higher elevation boasted a display of Long-spurred Violets, Viola rostrata which we had not seen at the river level. Exaggerated nectar tubes curve gently out from the back side of this violet. Most violets are difficult to sort by species, but the long-spurs easily set this one apart from all others.

And as a Weedpicker is likely to do, we gathered the garlic mustard along the trail, carrying it out of the forest. Garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata is a non-native species with poor manners and a pushy way of crowding out our native flora. Every little bit pulled and carted away is a step towards a healthier ecosystem, and a better spring flora display in the future.
Hope you find your way to this woodland wonderland, and feel free to help yourself to any of the Garlic Mustard we might have missed!

1 comment:

  1. What a great hike that must have been! How pracrical to name a bird, sycamore warbler after one of its preferrred locations for dining, those of us with name-recall issues appreciate descriptive names.