Sunday, June 10, 2007

Memorial walk

There are more than a million acres of Pine Barrens in NJ and I’m determined to wander through them all! Today’s odyssey was to the Brendan T. Byrne State Forest in Burlington County. I tagged along on a memorial walk sponsored by NJ Audubon for a birding buddy who passed away this past winter. He loved the Pine Barrens and was very knowledgeable about the typical flora and fauna of the area.

My main focus today was on botany, but we also saw a few really great birds. It was a treat to be out in the woods with people who know wildflowers. I learned plenty and took enough photos to make your eyes roll in boredom for the next few weeks. Every trip there reveals some new treasure.

We spent an hour or two exploring the white cedar swamp and had a nice long look at a Barred Owl perched way back in the swamp. That was a first! I’ve heard their call a number of times, but have never actually seen a Barred Owl. Sweet!

Another place we visited had Red-headed Woodpeckers – another treat! I’ve only seen them once before and was impressed with the gorgeous pattern of their wings in flight. I wish they were more common.

There’s been a lot of talk in the local newspapers about this year’s gypsy moth invasion. I’d read that the spraying program had been stepped up because they were so bad, but wondered what all the fuss was about. Well, I got a sense for it today and it’s really dreadful. Whole areas of the forest are just decimated and the caterpillars cover everything – if you’re quiet enough you can hear them eating – honest! The immediate area surrounding the state forest headquarters was as black and leafless as if a fire had gone through. I suppose the cuckoos will be happy with so much to eat, but it was sad to see.

So… I’m off to sort through my pics from today and hope you all had an enjoyable weekend. There’ll be more to come from the Barrens.

13 comments:

Mary said...

You could hear caterpillars eat? Amazing! And don't think you will bore us to tears posting wildflowers. I learn every time I see them.

A barred owl and a red-headed woodpecker would make my day, Laura.

Woo-Hoo! Keep "tagging along" on those walks!

KGMom said...

There was an article in our local paper today about the gypsy moth invasion--people commented about being able to hear the munching. Also, loads of caterpillar excrement falling into swimming pools. Yecchhh!!
Nice to read about the lovely aspects of the Pine Barrens--with the end of the Sopranos tonight, I have been reading "other" things about the Pine Barrens.

John said...

Barred owls are great birds. I think they have the most human looking faces of the various bird species I have seen. I love their calls.

mon@rch said...

Sounds like a great day and a wonderful place to visit! Those Gypsy moths can do lots of damage for sure! They say the cuckoo's can turn them inside out and eat them like a bannana!

Susan Gets Native said...

I have mixed feelings about spraying the little buggers. Yes, a forest of trees with no leaves is a bad thing. But I don't like pesticides.
I have heard the munching and frass dropping noise. Make you want to gag, doesn't it?
PLEASE bore us with your pictures!

bunnygirl said...

Your pictures are always so lovely, I can't imagine ever being bored by them.

Sounds like it was a nice day for a walk!

Jayne said...

Sounds like a great day Laura. I had just read another post on martha, martha (http://martha2.blogspot.com/2007/06/beastly.html) about those buggers... hearing them eat... I can't imagine.

Body Soul Spirit said...

One million acres...I cannot even image that. Looking forward to seeing more pictures of this lovely place.
Ruth

Patrick Belardo said...

Lynn was a terrific guy and, even though he was quiet, he always had a funny comment to make. I'm sorry that I couldn't make it for this special day. It sounds like it was great.

nina said...

Barred owls are, for me, that bird that I always feel my heart skip for--can't explain it, just the treat of a sighting is so special for this hidden resident of my woods.
Glad you saw one!

NatureWoman said...

Ohhh, that sounds like a very nice place to visit. And I'm looking forward to your wildflower photos.
I know all about gypsy moths and the nasty sounds they make. It's so sad they can do so much damage to the trees.

Dorothy said...

What a lovely place to visit Laura.
I remember the Gypsy Moths decimating all the trees up and down the GS Parkway. The year was 1976..the summer we moved to California. It was horrible. I can't believe they are back again!
They're eating their way west now..into Bucks County, PA.

dguzman said...

I've been watching for the little 'pillars here in Centre Cty, PA, stomping them even though it pains me to kill anything (besides yellowjackets--die!). But it's worse to see ruined forest, in my mind.