The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

From the Corner: Winter's End

Posted by
David Morse
| April 14, 2015 | Filed under: Observations

Dead plants reaching above the snow surfaceOne only needed to walk along the snowy road leading into Wells Reserve to realize what a tough winter it was. The drifts were waist to shoulder high and John Speight, hard working Facility Manager and plow operator, had to be innovative in opening up places to put all of it. He kept the walkways open and lights on in the main building, enabling the staff and committees to continue their work. Smooth pillows of deep snow at the top of the hill were a hint of the benches waiting beneath. But the harsh wind penetrating down coats did not encourage walkers lingering there. We looked for snow buntings, hoping to see a return of the large flock that magically swirled around us the previous winter.

Now it is April and there are dramatic changes everywhere. The newly exposed branches of bushes and the bases of small cherry trees exhibit shaggy strips of bark. These were peeled away by mice getting to the tender wood beneath. As the snow recedes we see the unroofed systems of tunnels that hid red squirrels from hungry foxes and hawks. Turkey vultures have returned and are circling over open spaces in the meadows in search of small critters that didn’t survive. A northern harrier with its distinctive white rump patch has appeared and flies low over the Muskie Trail field. A thinning cover of snow retains the last of the ski and snowshoe imprints that remind us of the pleasure the trails provided. Let’s hope that someday we will see rabbits emerge from the brush piles left by crews working along the Yankee Woodlot Trail.

A vernal pool in woods at the reserveMelting snow and April rains are forming vernal pools that provide habitat for the returning annual amphibian population. The fairy shrimp will spend their brief lives there. Wood frogs and “mole” salamanders, denizens of the forest floor, will lay their eggs there. Listen for the chorus of mating frogs that sounds like a gathering of ducks chatting in the middle of the woods.

Just as the goldfinches exchange their green for bright yellow, the rest of us gratefully shed boots and down jackets for our own spring wear. Now it’s time to get out and enjoy it all. The Wrack and the calendar tell you what’s happening and how to participate.

David Morse is a neighbor and volunteer at the Wells Reserve. He and his wife Joan revel in their proximity to such a beautiful and magical place and walk through it daily. In his "From the Corner" series, Dave offers the viewpoint of someone who enjoys learning about new places and getting to know the people who make it all work.

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