Boardwalk Trail

All posts tagged Boardwalk Trail

Alice Mohrman, Education Coordinator, Abbott’s Mill Nature Center

Meet at the historic Abbott’s  Mill spillway to begin your stream adventure on the Boardwalk Trail!  As the September light filters through the canopy, it highlights the clear water of Johnson’s Branch which skims effortlessly around branches scattered across the sandy bottom.  A journey along the meandering boardwalk offers something for everyone.  The raised trail is accessible for strollers, wheel chairs and walkers with benches for quiet contemplation and observing natural marvels.

The crisp notes, Teakettle-Tea-kettle-Teakettle clearly resonate across the wooded undergrowth as two male Carolina Wrens establish their presence.  Nesting and feeding territories are actively defended year round by these wrens which use their scimitar-shaped bill to glean insects from crevices.

The Carolina Wren is easily attracted to your backyard using a suet feeder.  Photo by Joe Sebastiani

The Carolina Wren is easily attracted to your backyard using a suet feeder. Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Look streamside for brilliant orange-red seeds nestled inside fuchsia pods in the native perennial shrub American Strawberry Bush, also known as “Hearts-a bustin”.  Euonymus America  thrives in moist soil and partial shade,  has subtle green blooms in May and June and scarlet leaves in late Fall.

Heart's-a-Bursting is a type of native Euonymous that grows on the coastal plain of Delaware.  Photo by Alice Mohrman.

Heart’s-a-Bursting is a type of native Euonymous that grows on the coastal plain of Delaware. Photo by Alice Mohrman.

Closer to the ground,  spy the remains of Ariseama triphyllum or Jack-in-the –pulpit:   a heavy cluster of red berries bending on a steam.   This harbinger of spring in the Calla Family  is distinctive for the unusual hooded flower that  grows on a separate stalk from the leaves.  A native food source for birds and mammals, avoid touching  the red fruit, leaves and roots which are considered poisonous.

Do not eat the berries of this plant, or any other plant you aren't fully sure won't harm you.  Jack-in-the-pulpit is poisonous, and tasting the berry will give you a severe burning sensation.  Indians called the seed head "The Fireball" for good reason.  Photo by Alice Mohrman.

Do not eat the berries of this plant, or any other plant you aren’t fully sure won’t harm you. Jack-in-the-pulpit is poisonous, and tasting the berry will give you a severe burning sensation. Indians called the seed head “The Fireball” for good reason. Photo by Alice Mohrman.

Check out the shiny black-brown Whirligig Beetles (56 different species of the Family Gyrinidae) synchronizing their spinning on the water surface!  They trap a bubble of air under their front wings which serves as an oxygen tank when the beetle dives underwater.  According to  A Guide to Freshwater Invertebrates of North America, adult whirligig beetles “emit defensive secretions that repel predators”.  The author noted, after handling some species of beetles,  the secretions had a  “ripe apple” aroma.

Around the boardwalk bend, Common Spicebush, Lindera benzoin, is a slim deciduous native shrub dotted with numerous oval-shaped scarlet red berries, each individually attached to the twig by a stem.  In early spring, the scented yellow flowers appear before the leaves.  The berries are a valuable food source for wildlife, especially birds.  Spicebush is a host plant for the large greenish, “clown-eyed”, caterpillar of the Spicebush Swallowtail which feeds on the leaves at night.  Late season caterpillars will overwinter camouflaged in their brown, leaf-like, chrysalis.

Right now, spicebush berries are fully ripe, and many species of birds will stop to eat them.  American Robin, Gray Catbird, Veery, Wood Thrush, and Red-eyed Vireo gorge on them.  Photo by Alice Mohrman.

Right now, spicebush berries are fully ripe, and many species of birds will stop to eat them. American Robin, Gray Catbird, Veery, Wood Thrush, and Red-eyed Vireo gorge on them. Photo by Alice Mohrman.

The Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly lays its eggs on spicebush.  Their larva look like a small snake to scare prey away.  Photo by Joe Sebastiani.

The Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly lays its eggs on spicebush. Their larva look like a small snake to scare prey away. Photo by Joe Sebastiani.

Stop by Abbott’s Mill Nature Center for a walk through our beautiful woodlands and boardwalk trail right now.  It will give you a good chance to step away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and the ability to take a peek into the beauty of the natural areas near Milford.