Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Walk on the Trail - Part 4

If there’s going to be moisture in the soil, it’ll be found here in the floodplain of the creek. More moisture doesn’t necessarily equate to optimum growing conditions. Once or twice each year, the creek floods and covers this area with water. This flooding is not the quiet, backwater flooding of the lower streams. When this area floods, the water movement is fast and violent. Leaf litter that should decompose and enrich the soil, is often carried away downstream.

This bridge is set just above the high water mark. Flood water will through the low area to the left before it moves the bridge.

I left gaps between the bridge deck boards that are large enough to peer through. As a kid, I loved crouching down to spy on little animals seeking protection in the shaded water below the bridge.

For the safety of those who like to hang over the side, I put the bridge supports near the end of the deck boards. This makes it nearly impossible for the bridge to tip.

There are some large Eastern Red Cedars growing in the floodplain. These big cedars routinely shed long strips of this bark. This bark is a favorite nest material for squirrels and many types of birds.

The older cedar wood is fairly rot resistant and dead branches stay on the tree practically forever. Some of these dead branches change shape as the cycle of drying and wetting causes the wood to warp. If you’re clearing these branches back from a trail, don’t be surprised when you bump your head on a branch that used to be quite out of the way.

The excess rain is causing some surprises. In 20 years of walking this trail, I’ve never seen this. Looks like Chanterelle, but I’ve mentioned my lack of fungi knowledge before.

Despite the lack of a definitive ID, it stands up well for a photograph.

Across the creek, the ground slopes quickly upward. The soil transition from moist to extra dry is nicely reflected by the change in ground cover.

Another tree down. An obstruction like this changes the creek hydrology and will change the types of organisms living in this section of the creek. These types of changes are a typical occurrence in naturally flowing streams.

There will also be changes on the hillside where additional sunlight is now reaching the ground. This is a typical woodland occurrence and results in a more diverse habitat.

The resting bench. I don’t spend much time sitting here. I can’t seem to sit for more than a few seconds before I see something I have to go investigate. Sometimes I use the bench as a worktable to hold my identification guides while I puzzle out some strange organism.

A moth just shot passed and zipped to the ground in the middle of the trail. A lovely pattern and some really bushy antennae, but I don’t know what species this is.

The trail goes through a thick stand of Lyre-leaved Sage, Salvia lyrata . The only part of the Sage that gets cut by the mower is the flower stalk. The plant does well here with the lack of competition by other plants.

It’s best to watch ahead of you and not yawn as you walk down the trail. These orb weaving spiders seem to always build their webs and hang about face level. It’s bad enough finding yourself with web and spider covering your face, but you definitely don’t want this fellow wandering around your tonsils.

The last bridge before we begin to head up the hill. The twist is not intentional. This bridge got slammed two years ago by logs riding the flood water from an upstream property. One of the supports was cracked and I haven’t completed the repairs.

The deer love to walk the trails, but they won’t cross bridges. Here’s where the deer have created their own trail bypassing the bridge. This could create a bank erosion problem.

We’re heading up the hill toward the open fields. I can’t remember a trip around the trail ever taking this long.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed the walk along the trail. Thank you for mentioning the orb weaver. I came across one of these the other day and wondered what it was. Yes, spider web season is definitely upon us - hard to walk through the woods without running into them!