Glen Providence Park burst into color and bird song in April! At the beginning of the month there were just splashes of color, with trees such as the Eastern Redbud in bloom, Trout Lily and Mayapple emerging, and Skunk Cabbage really brightening up the wetlands. By the end of the month virtually all leaves had emerged, the park was a lush green, and the woods were full of bird sounds- including that of this Carolina Chickadee.
The pond continued to be fun to watch- by April 6, the American Toad tadpoles had hatched from all those eggs laid in March! We should have tiny toads by May 20. The intriguing Dolomedes Fishing Spider laid in wait on the water at the pond’s edge for prey- including insects, fish, and… tadpoles. Another aptly named predator is the Belted Kingfisher– they fish from perches above water. A male and female Belted Kingfisher were flying around the pond one morning- their call sounds like a loud dry rattle.
In a case of opportunistic predation, reminiscent of the crocodiles ambushing wildebeest during river crossings, I saw four Northern Water Snakes actively circling along Broomalls Run… just that morning the warm weather had brought out a second round of mating calls of American Toads and Pickerel Frogs at the pond. Toads are terrestrial when not mating, and they tested their luck swimming across Broomall’s Run to get back to land. I didn’t see a snake catch a toad, but I did see a lucky American Toad swim right past an apparently-sated snake! Do be cautious when wading in Broomalls Run- while Northern Water Snakes are not venomous, they are said to strike repeatedly when cornered.
And then there are the flowering trees– how enchanting they make the woods! The native Flowering Dogwoods were especially beautiful this year, and they have an interesting history. According to the Chester Times, in 1937 “a number of dogwoods” were planted in Glen Providence Park as “Constitution Trees” to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. The trees were registered with the American Tree Association. Some of the dogwoods we see today may be those Constitution Trees! Other enchanting trees in bloom included the Carolina Silverbell, Umbrella Magnolia, and Eastern Redbud.
Speaking of trees, we are proud to have completed our biggest project to date: planting elegant native trees as Streamside Buffer Plantings for Earth Day. We once again proved that hard work and fun go well together!
At the very end of the month, we spotted the Common Muskrat, which we hadn’t seen since early last fall. It was swimming with a mouth full of aquatic plants, heading back to its burrow. We’d love to see muskrat babies! And then there’s the return of the Gray Catbirds, which will make for noisier woods for the season! These chatty birds are gray with black caps, and should be easy to spot through the summer. While their song has a variety of sounds, their call is a catlike mewing.
As of April 30, we had spotted 50 bird species for our 2012 Birding Big Year, with April additions including Wood Duck, Wood Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Ovenbird! Our total Park Bird List was up to 79 species, and that was before the May warbler migration…