Monthly Archives: March 2018

Peace Valley Park, Bucks County PA

I always find that I am drawn to water.  Not surprisingly then, the natural community found at Peace Valley Park, is similar to that of my phenology spot on the Winooski river.  Peace Valley is a county park that features a man made reservoir, Lake Galena.  Though this water body is not as fast moving as the Winooski river, meaning less sand producing erosion, the shores here are largely mud.  The tree composition of the surrounding forest also differs, showcasing cedars and oaks.

The lake is man made, a river was damned to create the lake for recreation.  Old fences made of stacked slate divide the landscape and several old barns and houses deeper in the woods have been left unkempt, allowing nature to reclaim them. These are echos of the lands past use as farmland.  An old road runs through the park, and an old bridge completes a walking path around the lake.  I have been coming here since I was a child to count turtles with my grandparents where they sit on the rocks and logs by the bridge.  Canada geese and ducks are common, as well a blue heron or two.  It is also unusual to visit the park without seeing a few deer.

five male cardinals sitting in a tree

Peace Valley has a great nature center with a bird blind, where I went and sat for a while.  I’m not really a bird person but as I sat there I was thrilled to see 12 male cardinals at one time, with several females. I also saw black capped chickadees, a pari of  downy woodpeckers, red winged blackbirds, a blue jay, a red bellied woodpecker, mourning doves, purple finches, and a dark eyed junco. There were also a few turkeys roaming the park.  Birding proved to be more exciting than I thought.

 

 

 

The woody stems in the park had some buds, a few of an unknown variety appeared to be ready to sprout leaves.  The only green on the forest floor was a few clumps of crab grass. The few maple trees that grow in the park were tapped and the sap was flowing, one huge old tree’s bucket was overflowing with sap. I was surprised by the parks modest sugaring operation which I learned from the ladies in the nature center is really just for demonstration.  They boil the sap in a kettle over and open fire to demonstrate how local tribe used to do it, they don’t actually look to make profit off of it.

 

 

March on the ‘Noosk

March 3, 2018

11:00

39 degrees

The effects of the recent thaws were evident at Salmon hole this week.  The large blocks of ice that covered the banks had mostly melted.  The melt water had carved an interesting pattern in the sandy soil, which had been filled with a fresh layer of snow from the night before.  The blocks of ice caused plenty of destruction, leaving evidence in the form of organic litter, logs and branches snapped and left to rot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was further evidence of my beaver friend this Saturday.  In addition to fresh teeth marks on a tree there was a perfect cast of a print.

The thaw must have made the soil soft, capturing the animals foot and preserving the print as the soil froze once more as the temperatures dropped.

The river was also the highest I’ve ever seen it, swollen with melt water, threatening to submerge the sandy shore.

 

 

Considering Wetland, Woodland and Wildland I would classify Salmon hole as an Upland Shore, specifically a Riverside outcropping.  I think that the topography and hydrology of the spot make this pretty obvious.  There are spots were the shore is entirely dominated by

exposed bedrock where there is no plant life.  These spots were most likely caused by the swift moving currents of the Winooski, and the ice flows that push against the rock in the winter time.

However, beyond the immediate rocky bank, nutrient rich and well drained sandy soil permits for excellent plant growth.  I believe that the majority of the shore is a Silver maple-osterich fern Riverine floodplain forest, as the dominant tree species here is Silver maple.

 

According to biofinder, Salmon hole is home to a high priority animal species which I believe to be the sturgeon, which spawn there.  It classifies the spot as a rare upland ecosystem.