Wednesday, May 13, 2009

All the better to see... Connecticut Warblers!

As reported in earlier posts, Magee Marsh is a great migrant trap, offering superior looks at neo-tropical warblers. And it was the one place a Weedpicker like me could bird, without being distracted by the botany. Up until this year, Magee has been totally overrun with Garlic Mustard, Allairia officinalis- a rather insidious invasive non- native plant. Garlic Mustard pretty much ate up all the other botany and completely obscured the woodland floor.

Garlic Mustard, allairia officinalis

A dedicated group of weed-pullers have worked the last several years clearing swathes through the understory, finally reducing the uber-aggresive plant back to a few wisps of lingering holdouts. Congrats to Mary Warren and the whole Garlic Mustard removal team.

The end result has been better botany all around. The spring ephemerals have flourished this year, and I actually had a life plant from the boardwalk. A delicate Fumitory with an irregular, lipped flower called Golden Corydalis, Corydalis aurea. The leaves look similar to those of Dutchman's breeches or Squirrel corn, so you'll have to look close to find this beauty.

Golden Coryadalis, Corydalis aurea

And now that the garlic mustard is gone, it will be much easier to see Connecticut Warblers as they skulk across the ground! Just remember, we may be weedpickers, but take a botanist with you if you want to find the Connecticut Warblers or LaConte’s Sparrows, because we are already looking at the ground!

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