Monday, June 1, 2015

Catch up time

By Beth Sullivan
This time of year is so amazing. With so much happening all at once, it is hard to know which way to turn to experience the changes. It certainly is nearly impossible to choose one thing to focus on, and sitting still and writing is not easy when there are trails to be walked, walls to clear, birds to observe, flowers to search for, and grass seed to plead with to grow! There are still domestic gardens to be planted, corners to be raked…everything needs attention.
May Apple is in bloom now.

In a nutshell, here is what has been happening:
We have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated all the energy and efforts of the Connecticut College students. I hope you have enjoyed their “Guest Blogs”. The Goodwin Niering Center for the Environment has completed its third year with Avalonia as part of its service learning curriculum. We are all learning and benefitting from this collaboration. This year we had work parties, a children’s art project, historical documentation, new brochure design, and more. Each year we get inspired and encouraged by their enthusiasm and ideas, and they get some real life exposure to the efforts of managing an all volunteer land trust.
Cinnamon Fern Fiddleheads supply fuzzy fibers for Hummingbird's nests.

Student volunteers

Dodge Paddock has had the benefit of several work parties, both by Connecticut College and the Marine Science Magnet School. These students spent long hours raking, hauling debris, and moving and replacing stones along the walls. The area is being prepped for planting test plots which will occur in mid-June. We continue to receive assistance from multiple DEEP agencies to help us through the process of doing this project right as part of our LISFF Grant.
Dodge Paddock will be seeing a lot of activity in the next months.
At Knox Preserve, Trinity College studies have ramped up again. Areas are staked out for monitoring growth of weeds, natives, and invasives. All of this is part of a long term plan to assess response of the environment to removing invasive growth, and rebuilding native plant communities. We spread native grass seed over nearly an acre of prepared soil, then waited while the forecasts of rain simply dried up. After a little bit of recent rain, we are seeing signs of green blades emerging among the weeds.
Meadows are greening up...

but beware of the already abundant Poison Ivy.

Knox bird populations

Over decades, we have studied changes in the bird populations at Knox through migratory banding programs, and a new group is now observing breeding birds in the area. They will continue to watch trends that may correspond to improved plant resources and management techniques. All this activity has not bothered the Purple Martins that are back in the gourd houses. They are most active early in the morning when they sing and emerge for the day. It's certainly worth a trip to listen to them. A recent nest check has confirmed we have eggs in two nests already and several more being built. The Tree Swallows are occupying most of the wooden bird houses, but I continue to battle with House Sparrows, who are ruthless in their efforts to take over.
The Purple Martins at Knox Preserve have eggs in two nests, with more on the way.

We are making up for lost time from the winter, but all in good time. While we do these “chores,” we can enjoy listening for the returning birds or stumbling across a hidden Lady’s Slipper flower.
Time to begin trail maintenance.
Please take the time to go slow and enjoy this fleeting season.

Photographs by Beth Sullivan.

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