Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Walk In the Woods

“Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill.”  ― John Muir

© 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

This Morning's Walk

I went for a nature walk in the Dykeman Spring Nature Park again this morning. We're in the midst of yet another stretch of overcast, damp, misty, drizzly, and slightly cooler than normal weather, yet the greening and blooming is going full blast. So are the bird migrations. The Orioles are back; several were singing away high in the forest canopy, and I saw a couple here and there flitting around outside camera range. The migrating Warblers are also here, heard but mostly unseen; they're small birds and hard to see when the foliage is full. I heard a couple of Yellow Warblers, plus several indistinguishable Warbler calls, and one Black and White Warbler who landed on a branch next to me but took off again before I could raise the camera.

I did manage to capture three birds. The Brown Thrasher is in the Mockingbird family, but where the Mockingbird repeats each song it imitates three times, the Thrasher only repeats it twice. And the two Sandpipers were very interesting. The Spotted Sandpiper is native to the area, and even though Sandpipers are mostly identified with the seashore, there are inland Sandpipers, and this is one of them. The Solitary Sandpiper is a different story, though. It, too is an inland, freshwater bird, but it winters in Central America and summers in the Arctic tundra. Right now they're migrating north and can often be seen resting by streams and pools; this is one of them, making it a rare sighting. Whee!

A Brown Thrasher singing away by the Dykeman Walking Trail

Dame's Rocket growing along the Dykeman Walking Trail

The forest floor along the Dykeman Walking Trail

Philadelphia Fleabane in the Dykeman Spring wetland

A Solitary Sandpiper on the creek in the Dykeman Spring wetland

A Spotted Sandpiper by the north duck pond

© 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Friday, May 06, 2016

May Flowers

Sweet April showers
Do spring May flowers.
– Thomas Tusser

Ground Ivy
Sweet May hath come to love us,
Flowers, trees, their blossoms don;
And through the blue heavens above us
The very clouds move on.
– Heinrich Heine

White Campion
Among the changing months, May stands confest
The sweetest, and in fairest colors dressed.
– James Thomson

Dame's Rocket
Hebe's here, May is here!
The air is fresh and sunny;
And the miser-bees are busy
Hoarding golden honey.
– Thomas Bailey

What potent blood hath modest May.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Swamp Buttercups
Never yet was a springtime, when the buds forgot to bloom.
– Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

Photos © 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Sunday, May 01, 2016

A Soggy May Day

It's May Day! In Europe this was the holiday that welcomed the full blooming of the Earth as Spring slowly becomes Summer. It's a holiday that celebrates fertility and marriage; June weddings in the old days were often the result of May Day meetings dancing the May Pole dance. The contemporary May Day is descended from earlier Spring celebrations, most notably the Celtic Beltane, where we get the distribution of May (a flowering shrub) branches and the dance around the May Pole. It's a time of great merriment and fun.

Here in Shippensburg, though, our May Day is gloomy and rainy; if there's a May Pole anywhere about it's liable to be a bit bedraggled. Still, a walk through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park shows evidence of all that burgeoning fertility!

The guest house at the McLean House, showing off the flowering Dogwoods
Raindrops on the leaves along the Dykeman Walking Trail
Mama Goose sitting on her nest in the Dykeman Spring wetland
A Mallard family outing on the north duck pond
A strange tentacular fungus on a Red Cedar on the upland meadow
There were lots of Earthworms up on the meadow in all this dampness
Looking across the meadow toward the hill to the west

In Great Britain the Morris Dancers usually put on a show to celebrate May Day, and this carol is the centerpiece of that celebration. Let's all sing along!

Photos © 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Getting Serious (An Earth Day Celebration One Day Late)

"The great pulsation of nature beats too in my breast, and when I carol aloud, I am answered by a thousand-fold echo. I hear a thousand nightingales. Spring hath sent them to awaken Earth from her morning slumber, and Earth trembles with ecstasy, her flowers are hymns, which she sings in inspiration to the sun... "
- Heinrich Heine

Mama Gaia is finally getting serious about Spring in these parts. The daylight temperatures seem to have settled into the mid 60s to mid 70s (18º - 24º C), with no more freezing or sub-freezing nights. And the non-domestic, native flowering trees have finally started to bloom, most notably Redbud and Dogwood. And as yesterday was Earth Day, the timing was perfect. Unfortunately I was working yesterday, so today's walk through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park is my annual post to celebrate the glory of our planet. Enjoy!

Branch Creek by McLean House; note the Dogwood to the right
Entering the park on the Dykeman Walking Trail
A view of the Dykeman Walking Trail
The newly lush forest floor along the Dykeman Walking Trail
A view across part of the Dykeman Spring wetland, with blooming Redbud
A Gray Catbird merrily nattering away in the Dykeman Spring wetland
The creek in the Dykeman Spring wetland
My favorite corner of the north duck pond, with some visiting Canada Geese
A forest floor scene in the woods by the upland meadow
© 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Visit to the Rail Trail

Today was a repeat of yesterday's gorgeous weather, so I decided to pop up to the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail to see what Spring was up to there. There were lots of birds, especially Woodpeckers, flying around and singing and generally doing things birds do in the Spring. Plus the early wildflowers are blooming and the leaves are popping out on the trees. It was a fine day to be walking, and the sights were worth walking to see. 

An old tree overgrown with vines and Ivy near the entrance to the Rail Trail
Apple blossoms along the trail
There were a lot of White-throated Sparrows foraging on and along the trail
There were also large swaths of Spring Beauty flowers growing along the trail
This male Northern Flicker kept sticking his head out of his nest , yelling at me
This farm along the trail is getting ready to start the season
And now it's time to follow the trail back home to eat lunch
© 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Oh What a Beautiful Day!

Ahhhhh! Now Spring looks to be busting out all over here in Central PA! I've slept with the windows open the last two nights, and daytime temps are getting into the upper 70s F (around 25º C). And the green is increasing and flowers blooming. Not to mention birdsong, Spring Peepers, and lots of critters of all sorts showing up all over. Here are some scenes from this morning's walk through the Dykeman Spring Nature Park. (By the way, if you want to hear a Soundcloud file of the Spring Peeper chorus going on in the wetland this morning, come visit my Facebook timeline).

Branch Creek at King St. is looking appropriately Springlike
Redwinged Blackbirds are all over the place in the Dykeman Spring wetland areas. Here's a female...
... and a male objecting to my presence in their nesting territory.
There were several Painted Turtles out sunning on this gorgeous morning!
Meanwhile, the Violets are blooming on the upland meadow
And here's a Carolina Wren singing his territorial song at me as I invade his turf
Large patches of Black Mustard are springing up on the meadow
A look across the meadow to the mountains to the north from the Meadow Trail
I haven't done this in a while, but today's gorgeousness got me thinking of two particular songs, so here we go into the YouTube archives to dig up the best music videos. Enjoy!

Photos © 2016 by A. Roy Hilbinger