John Grego, 05/2009
At Naturefest, I had talked with Marcus Houtchings about a couple large oaks accessible from the Weston Lake Trail--he said they were quite close to the western "arm" of Weston Lake slough and not difficult to find. I have had several over-scheduled weekends lately, so I took a little time off from work to find the oak trees, do some birding, and try out our new camera. The Ovenbird I had heard along the entrance road during Dawn Chorus was still there, though the Kentucky Warbler has finally stopped singing. There were several Richland One school buses in the parking lot, and things were lively around the Visitor's Center. I headed down Sims Trail to Weston Lake on a warm humid Spring day; bird song was plentiful, though I never did encounter much in the way of migrant species other than Black-throated Blue Warblers, which seem to spread themselves throughout the park during migration.
The hunt club clearing had an impressive number of American Snouts on the road surface, along with a few Question Marks (look for a new feature on these journal entries--butterfly lists!); the Indigo Bunting that's usually present wasn't singing, but I did see a male and female bunting working their way through the foliage at the eastern end of the clearing, and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird was gathering nesting material from the meadow.
I hiked down Weston Lake Trail to the point at which Cedar Creek rejoins the trail; I then backtracked halfway to where the slough crosses the trail and quickly found a very large Swamp Chestnut Oak; a large Cherrybark Oak was just a little farther southwest. It's easy to understand why John Cely organized a big tree walk in this area; there are plenty of large attractive oaks and sweetgums to see. The hike back was uneventful, though thunder threatened and it was hard to find a good crossing close to Weston Lake with plentiful water still in the slough.
American Snout butterflies were plentiful at the Hunt Club clearing
Black rat snake (green phase) on the Sims Trail
The obligatory fungus (Tree Ear) photo
The impressive Swamp Chestnut Oak south of the Weston Lake Trail
The crown of the Swamp Chestnut Oak
A Cherrybark Oak southwest of the Swamp Chestnut Oak
May 10, 2009 by Edward Kujawski
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