A cold front has moved through and the oppressive humidity has cleared from the air, which made today an absolutely perfect day to take a walk along the trails here at Tupper Hill. A breezy west wind made this walk even more enjoyable as it kept the deer flies at bay. I always try to find admirable qualities in nature. Deer flies (a Tabanid fly related to horse flies) were a little tough; however, if you think about it, these annoying bugs emerge right around the time when young birds are fledging and learning to feed themselves. Dragonflies, too, are on the wing en masse. Guess what they are eating?
It’s summertime, as evidenced by the vernal pools morphing into cool, muddy spots. I looked for tracks here and I can tell the doe and fawn that frequent this area were here recently browsing on ferns. Coming out of the woods from the Vernal Pool Trail, I stopped to ponder the idea of microclimates: So cool and shady under a deciduous canopy to brilliant, hot sunshine at the Grass Plain. I crouched down low to observe how the tall grasses make their own “canopy” only much lower to the ground. This is a great spot to hide if you are a small mammal or bird.
The water level in the pond is also low, which is great, as the Plymouth Gentian (a state-listed species of special concern), is blooming now. This species evolved with the hydrologic cycle of a coastal-kettle pond and likes to live on the edge. It’s a beautiful plant, threatened mostly because of human impacts on the lands surrounding its natural habitat. It’s definitely worth the trip to see here, unless you are heading to the Cape soon.
Sticking to the shade, I ventured to the Upper Trail. My co-workers were out yesterday doing some tree ID and I noticed a tag that read “black oak” at the top of the hill. Looking up I could clearly see that this tree, which I have walked by hundreds of times, did have different leaves from the other oaks nearby. Continuing on back to the visitors’ center I saw many butterflies flitting about the woods- hairstreaks. Of course, they never sat still enough to for me to identify or photograph. Sometimes you just have to appreciate their energetic dance.
A walk along the trails here never ceases to amaze me. I am always treated to a spectacular sighting, an opportunity to take a beautiful photo or I learn something new about our woods. Stop in, grab a trail map, head outside and enjoy our trails and gardens. Don’t forget to share your sightings with us when you return.
For more images from my hike today, visit our Facebook page.