Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A walk along Beaver Creek

Late note: The first eastern phoebe sang outside my bedroom winter this morning. A few spring peepers chorused last evening, too. Spring is here.

This past Sunday was a gorgeous day throughout much of the eastern U.S. Temperatures were warm and the winds calm. It’s not uncommon to get a day or two like that in March, but it sure feels as though we don’t get them very often on a weekend day when they can be enjoyed to the fullest. This one was not to be wasted.

So Sunday Baby Dog and I took a walk down the valley between Flat Hill and Roundtop Mtn. I was eager to get out and see how Beaver Creek was flowing and see how the valley looked after winter. Would I see any signs of spring?

The warm weather made the going muddy, but we proceeded down the mountain slowly. Or at least I did. Baby Dog would have bounded down at top speed if I’d let her. The valley was still brown with winter, and though I walked the length of the valley, I didn’t see any spring growth, not even the ubiquitous skunk cabbage.

Even the mosses still had a dull cast, though I did find one patch of it that was bright green. Beaver Creek flowed well, if not yet over its banks. Spring rains haven’t appeared here yet, and the snow I had this past winter wasn’t enough to create a torrent. In a way that was good news for my walk. The valley is often quite muddy in spring, and if this year is a normal one, the valley may become close to impassible in April.

Mosses were much in evidence, though I find them difficult to identify. Good sources are either expensive, non-existent or require a microscope and more expertise than I have. However, a few of them seem reasonable to attempt. The first is an atrichum moss; its reddish color is something of a giveaway. The reddish shade occurs when the moss curls up to protect itself from cold or drought. You can see a few areas where the moss is already uncurled.

The last photo is an acrocarp-type moss, though I don’t know the exact name. It’s essentially a “sheet” moss that covers a big area.

 It didn’t take but a few days for the warm Sunday to be the harbinger of spring sights and sounds. When the phoebe sings and the peepers peep, the arrival of spring is a foregone conclusion.

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