Matt Babbitt

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By Matt Babbitt, Director of Abbott’s Mill Nature Center:

As Mother Nature ushers in the warmth and rain of spring, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on the winter here at Abbott’s Mill Nature Center.

A view of Abbott’s Mill from across the Pond.

A view of Abbott’s Mill from across the Pond.

This year’s winter held a tight grip on southern Delaware, bringing a few feet of snow, and steady dose of cold, crisp air. Despite the Old Man’s best efforts though, we had several visitors that helped ease the freeze. Abbott’s Pond was frozen until early March, but hosted quite a large flock of Ring-necked Ducks diving for vegetation to prepare them for the migration to their northern mating grounds.

Ring-necked Ducks paddling across Abbott’s Pond.

Ring-necked Ducks paddling across Abbott’s Pond.

There was a Red Shouldered Hawk that kept constant watch over the forest surrounding Johnson’s Branch.

A Red Shouldered Hawk perches in wait for prey.

A Red Shouldered Hawk perches in wait for prey.

Even the trees and plants, barren of leaves and succumbed to winter’s cold blow, were able to share their beauty.

The sun breaks through the swampy tree line of our Issacs-Greene Preserve.

The sun breaks through the swampy tree line of our Issacs-Greene Preserve.

Our giant 5 in 1 Tulip Poplar stretches for the heavens, gleaning the day’s fading rays of sun.

Our giant 5 in 1 Tulip Poplar stretches for the heavens, gleaning the day’s fading rays of sun.

Our giant 5 in 1 Tulip Poplar stretches for the heavens, gleaning the day’s fading rays of sun.

One of our first signs that spring was on its way was the little purple and green heads of Skunk Cabbage popping up through the snow, literally and figuratively melting the snow away.

Skunk Cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus, is able to heat itself to almost 60° F through an internal chemical process.  This heat not only melts the snow as it emerges, but provides a warm hiding spot for insects.

Skunk Cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus, is able to heat itself to almost 60° F through an internal chemical process. This heat not only melts the snow as it emerges, but provides a warm hiding spot for insects.

Lastly, this year’s winter also brought a new Manager to Abbott’s Mill Nature Center. Matt Babbitt joined us in December 2014 and brings with him a passion of teaching and exploring by way of Virginia, California, New York, the islands of Chesapeake Bay, and most recently, Washington, DC. Now that Old Man Winter’s grip has finally loosened, we invite you to come visit us at Abbott’s Mill Nature Center and explore our 500 acres of forest, swamp, meadow, pond, stream, and wetland ecosystems. The wonders of spring wait for your arrival!

Abbott’s Mill Nature Center, located at 15411 Abbotts Pond Road, Milford, DE, is open Monday through Friday from 9 am – 4 pm, with public trail access 7 days a week from dawn until dusk. Starting this April, the Visitor Center will also be open on Saturday and Sunday from 12 – 4 pm.

Abbott’s Mill Nature Center, located at 15411 Abbotts Pond Road, Milford, DE, is open Monday through Friday from 9 am – 4 pm, with public trail access 7 days a week from dawn until dusk. Starting this April, the Visitor Center will also be open on Saturday and Sunday from 12 – 4 pm.