Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bird Walk in Wildwood with Clyde Kessler

A fun feature of Radford's Vulture Fest on Saturday, February 19, was a Bird Walk through Wildwood Park led by nature expert Clyde Kessler. Our walk began at the Public Library and before we even left the parking lot, we saw robins, starlings, and ring-billed gulls flying over Memorial Bridge.
We knew then that we were in for a great adventure!
The group continued on to the nearby entrance to Wildwood.
Clyde reminded there us that in addition to our eyes, we would need to use our ears.

Sam Dean, a Roanoke times photographer came along with us.
As an amateur photographer, I was very interested to see how he worked to get
those interesting shots that are published in the newspaper.
Now I have a better idea!

As we walked along the bike path, Clyde found an empty bird nest that had
been occupied last year and that I probably had walked by almost everyday
and had not seen in the bramble of plants.
I know that I had taken photos of the wineberries and of the asters
that had been growing there, but I had never seen the nest.
Birds are so clever!

We walked on down the path to the Bird Viewing platform at the Park Road entrance.
Clyde told us that the platform was placed in that riparian area to make it easier
for folks to observe birds as they (the birds!) enjoyed the
creek and surrounding trees and other plants.

Tonia Moxley, a Roanoke times reporter had also joined us for our walk.
You can read her article, and see Sam's photos in the
Sunday, Feb. 19, Roanoke Times.

As we headed back to the library, we walked along the trail under the
South Bridge to see where a phoebe had built its nest.
According to Clyde, those birds are not tidy housekeepers!

You may have noticed that I have not included any photos of birds in this blog -
that's because my camera has a limited range,
and also because I wanted to listen to our guide
and talk with friends along the way -
I don't multitask very well!
However, [stay tuned for] new sidebar photos of birds in Wildwood.
Our adventure was declared a success as we saw and/or heard chickadees,
titmice, phoebes, house finches,
a redtail hawk, vultures (of course!) both black and turkey,
a Downy woodpecker, 2 pileated woodpeckers,
crows, a Carolina wren, golden-crowned kinglets,
a blue jay, white-throated sparrows, American goldfinches,
and the biggest excitement of all was caused by some
of the smaller birds - brown creepers!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nature's Valentines

Nature's Valentines bloom a bit late for the official day but are worth waiting for until mid-May.
These Bleeding Hearts (Dientra spectabilis) will bloom again then in my neighbor's yard.

They do have relatives that will be blooming in Wildwood in just a couple of months.
Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) will be in flower by mid-April.

Instead of being heart-shaped, these flowers look like tiny pantaloons that Hans Brinker might wear!
They cover a relatively large area of the West slope near the North Bridge
and are quite spectacular when in full bloom as seen from the middle trail. 

Both of these delicate flowers are members of the Poppy Family.
How many ways can you see that they are alike?