11/20 What the Deer Don’t Eat…

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…is what thrives in this forest. Yes, it’s Browntail again, and her doe fawn. Day by day, their eating habits determine the future make-up of this forest, from tiny herbaceous plants to tall trees. They are the deciders. And what don’t they eat? It’s a very short list – which makes it awfully hard to encourage some “stuffing” to grow back back. We’d hoped for a revival of native plants after removing so much Bush honeysuckle, but it’s just not that simple. Read More

11/9 Deconstructors


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Oyster Mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus – a white-rot fungus

And who do we have to thank for turning dead trees into soil? If you answered fungi and decomposers, you’re right – but there’s more to the story. Though I could have titled this post “decomposers”, I didn’t for a reason. All the tiny critters – millipedes, pillbugs, earthworms, nematodes, bacteria and so on – they do an incredible job of eating dead stuff and breaking it down. But there’s one thing they can’t digest: lignin, the toughest part of wood. Only some bacteria, and fungal deconstructors in the class Basidiomycetes have evolved to do this specialized task.  Read More

11/1 What Would A Bird Say?


If we could ask this Common Yellowthroat what she thinks of our efforts to improve the forest, I suspect she would not be impressed. She might say “what happened to the tangles?” In the past six years we’ve lopped and sawed our way through acres of invasive plants. But what have we done for wildlife, especially birds? We’ve mostly taken away, not replaced. Read More

10/23 If Jewelweed Could Speak…


Pale Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) seed capsules waiting for a touch

What would it say? In this forest I can imagine it saying “give me shelter”. Pale Jewelweed’s just a humble annual plant, so weedy and abundant we don’t usually give it a second glance. But deer relish its juicy tenderness; by midsummer in this forest, any unprotected Jewelweed is looking seriously ragged. Read More

10/16 Tale of Two Turtles



If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know our forest is a haven for Box Turtles. And just like the rest of us, some turtles are more fortunate than others.  Life is not fair – I’ve seen healthy old turtles without a mark on their carapace, and young ones that were chewed on, damaged by mowers, or just plain run over and dead. Within the past week I’ve met two box turtles with very different life stories… Read More

10/10 Dear Readers

an old acquaintance, and subject of my next post

Let’s have a conversation! It’s easier than you think. Although the blog post comment box says to log in, give email etc. – you don’t have to! The message is just there to protect the blog from spammers, and I can’t remove it.  Because I trust you, dear readers, I’m sharing this little secret. To comment on a post you only have to give a first name. “Liking” a post however, still requires logging in. My hope for this blog is to create a community of folks who love BCSNP, urban nature, birds, habitat restoration, frogs, pollinators, native plants, turtles, deer, backyard habitat, salamanders,  butterflies – you name it ….    So what do YOU think? Take a moment to share your thoughts with all of us.

Thanks! Rosemary

10/9 Plant It And They Will Come


Color-changing Cope’s Grey Tree Frog in the new HMS pollinator garden

Like the cornfield in “Field of Dreams”, this formerly barren back lot at Highland Middle School must have been sending out visions of what it could become. Fortunately some of us were listening – and thanks to grant funding from The North American Partnership for Environmental Community Action, the vision is being realized.  This pics in this post show what amazing things can happen on a little plot of turfgrass in just one season.

http://www.cec.org/napeca/people-pollinators-urban-garden-initiative-conservation-pollinator-insects-and-native-sustainable-environments Read More

9/29 Right Here, Right Now


Fat Pawpaw fruits waiting to be eaten

Its been almost 7 months since the first “Right Here, Right Now” post.  The tiny new buds and green shoots are a distant memory; replaced by tattered yellowing leaves, fat red berries, and deer browsed remains. Throughout this time I’ve had the privilege to be present for the minute day to day changes so carefully noted by the creatures that live here. I can’t really understand this tangled web of connections, but wade through it wide-eyed and grateful for what is revealed.  This post is simply my observations from one week in late summer, on the brink of fall. Read More

9/18 Turtle Weather


Female Box Turtle trying to avoid me at BCSNP

What’s a Box Turtle’s favorite weather? I’m guessing it’s two days (at least) of steady light rain, to saturate everything and bring out the snails and earthworms. Last Wednesday’s weather was close to ideal; I was out early scouting the site of an invasive plant workday, when I almost stepped on the first turtle. Read More

9/9 Life in a Fragment

Larva of Spicebush Swallowtail on its silk web. This species depends on the presence of large stands of Spicebush, Lindera benzoin

 As you read this post, consider – how many of the life forms pictured here have you seen in your own yard? Assuming you even want them there, the chances are better the closer you live to a natural area with a diversity of endemic plants. All the animals in this post live at Beargrass Creek State Nature Preserve, a lovely protected fragment of forest. Their populations, though small, should be secure for the long term – but are they really?

Read More