Skyview Preserve is located on Marshalls Corner Woodsville Rd, in Hopewell.
Link to hiking map and description.
Today was just one of those days when no matter how quickly I tried to accomplish the tasks at hand, I was always running about five minutes behind schedule. When I go into the woods, I don’t worry about such things. I usually don’t hike very far, choosing instead to spend my “alone time” in nature looking through leaf litter or searching for flowers. Even though I have studied the plant ecology of this area for over a decade, each time I am in the woods I learn something new. Today was no exception. When I had this new experience, I was almost as excited as my children were when they visited Santa Claus this past weekend. I will tell you more about it, later.
I also would like to take a moment to thank my mother, Nancy, for her help editing this blog. She helps me organize my runaway thoughts and puts it back on the right path. Thank you, Mom.
It is deer hunting season so it is important to always check and make sure that the preserve you wish to visit is open to the public! Even if the preserve is open for visitors, for your own safety, it is important to wear high visibility colors during deer hunting season. I always keep my Sourland Conservancy High Visibility baseball cap and beanie, along with an orange vest, in my car so that if I decide to go for a hike, I am prepared!
I really love this foliose Lichen, which was growing all over the Skyview Preserve. It reminds me of the kale I left in the back of the refrigerator.
“If it’s hairy, it’s scary!” Once those “leaves of three” fall off, it is a little more difficult to identify Poison Ivy, Toxicodendron radicans. If you come across a vine with many aerial roots causing it to appear quite hairy, you can be pretty sure that it is Poison Ivy and not Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia. Virginia Creeper tendrils tend to be thicker than Poison Ivy’s and don’t look quite as “hairy”. To be on the safe side, it may be prudent to avoid touching a vine you can’t identify!
It looks like someone was pecking away in a forage for insects. I don’t know a lot about birds, but I have sometimes wondered if each particular species of wood pecker leaves its own distinctive peck marks? A good question for the National Audubon Society or your nearest ornithology lover.
This tree was covered in mushrooms, a tell-tale sign that it is not much longer (or is no longer) for this world.
A forest of sphagnum moss.
Sporophytes as far as the eye can see!
A vernal pool! A vernal pool is a body of water which dries out each year (or almost every year) and does not have a resident fish population. It is commonly thought that vernal pools appear in the spring, but the profuse rain this fall has caused the pools to fill. I can imagine all the salamander and frog eggs which will be contained within this pool come spring.
Last year, I really wanted to experience the Sourland Conservancy and Mercer County Parks Commission’s “Remember the Rain” event. I completed the training to be an Amphibian Crossing Guard. Unfortunately, my time “on watch” and the rains were not in sync, so I was unable to chaperone the salamanders and frogs on their migration. I am anticipating the crossing this coming spring and hopefully the rain drops and my “crossing guard” schedule will be in alignment in 2019! Read more about the “Remember the Rain” project here.
It was an absolutely beautiful morning and not quite as cold as the previous few days. I did not hear many birds or see any mammals besides a few white-tailed deer. I had a pleasant walk in both the woods and in an open field, and I was not too muddy either, considering all of the rain that has been falling lately.
Ok, so I saved the best for last. While I was walking along the path I happened to look down at a Shagbark Hickory Nut, Carya ovata, and observed what seemed to be teeny, tiny, jumping grains of sand. Can you see them? There are 8 of them in this picture!
I believe these are Springtails/Collembola, belonging to the order of Symphypleona, but I’m not completely sure. Collembola are very small, sometimes microscopic, insect-like organisms which live in and on the soil. They have an appendage on the underside of their body which can “spring” them away from danger – also known as my boot! These little critters are fascinating! Here is a really great link with tons of great photos and information on collembola. Also, if you have a desire to relax, please watch this video of collembola hanging out by the water’s edge.