And just like that, April became May.
From early sprouts beginning to emerge early in the month a crescendo rises until the end of the month when we have an explosion of spring wildflowers. Let's revisit some highlights.
April 8th - Bog & Killbuck Marsh
Spring morning at the bog. No sign of the ferns, but the mosses were practically glowing green after all the rain we had. A squirrel chattered at me from its branch in the poison sumac tree. After a while he went back to eating the sumac berries (I had no idea they would eat those!). The warm earthy bog smell is slowly coming back, I sit on the boardwalk letting the sun warmed scents waft around me for a few minutes. On my way out, sitting there in the middle of the boardwalk is an owl pellet!
Owl pellets are little oval clusters of fur and bones indigestible by owls who eat their prey whole. After swallowing their meal, the owl's gizzard separates the soft tissue from the indigestible bits, collecting them in a mass to be regurgitated as a pellet some hours later.
I couldn't be sure what little rodent/s had been digested but it was fascinating to observe. Now upon retrospect, I should have looked up to see if the owl was still up in the tree.
By the parking area, a cutleaf toothwort in bud waits for a few more warm days to bloom.
From the bog I went down to the Marsh. Down in the valley, a dusty pull off area with an unassuming deer trail of a path leads to a world hidden from the road. Following the path towards the woods I came across a wet area filled with skunk cabbage beginning to leaf out. Turning from them I nearly stepped on a very sleepy groundhog. Even after my startled "EEK!" it was not at all concerned with me so I let it be and up the hill I climbed. Here and there shoots and sprouts were poking up from under the leaf litter. I found a fallen tree with a view of the marsh below and the hill above, this will be my observation point.
Sightings from my tree: Great egrets, great blue heron, sandhill cranes, bald eagles (juv.), blue winged teal, Canada geese, at least one towhee, wren, sorts of sparrows, cutleaf toothwort in bud, spring beauty leaves, early meadow rue - in very small bud form, grape fern, skunk cabbage
April 12th - Clear Creek
What started out as a foggy morning, cleared up into a warm sunny day. The trees are still bare except for their flowers. It feels odd, the rest of the world is so bright and green, but the trees still feel like winter.
A walk around Clear Creek (Wooster), more signs of spring are appearing: Giant velvet mite, buds on the purple cress, and a mayapple still wrapped up poking out of the leaves.
April 20th - Killbuck Marsh
Partly sunny 54*
Driving down the hill into the valley I was startled at the sight of a turkey wandering by. After watching for a few minutes it wandered off into the brush.
I parked and made my way up to my observation tree.
In April, so much can happen in a week and a half! The skunk cabbage has leafed out large, the blood root is beginning to bloom, cutleaf toothwort is budding, mayapples emerging, rue anemone blooming, early meadow rue in bud, trillium greens, geranium greens, and spring beauties in flower.
And the birds! So many birds. Swans, Sandhills, pileated, wrens, teals, cormorant, and a turkey vulture in a tree to name a few.
The last image shows a great blue heron standing on what I like to call "beaver island". The beavers have been adjusting the marsh again, and in this popular area they've not only built a new lodge, but a mass as well! Maybe as a water break? Maybe with tunnels? I'm not an expert on beaver behavior, so for now, beaver island it is.
April 26 - Walton Woods
Cooler and cloudier today. An early morning walk at Walton Woods.
Trees are starting to turn green. Blooms are starting to appear - spring beauties, cutler toothwort (a unique purple tinged one?!), mayapple leaves are open, false mermaid is blooming, dutchman's breeches too. I startled some deer, followed them briefly, and found a large patch of Virginia Bluebells!!! The first I've found in the wild in Wayne County! On my way back to the car, a rose breasted grosbeak serenaded me.
April 27 - Bog
The sun was setting, we had a lovely walk, the magnolia warblers were flitting about, it was a good evening. Then as we neared the end of the boardwalk, I look up (as that is the best way to spot warblers) and notice a large figure in the branches - far too large for a warbler - a turkey!
April 29 - Wooster Memorial Park
A truth about observing wildflowers in Wayne County. There are many parks, many natural areas, great wetlands, but hands down Wooster Memorial Park is the richest public park in Wayne County to show off the diverse native plant species.
While I attempted this year to find other hotspots in the county, nothing compares.
In Bloom this trip: bluets, trillium, dutchman's breeches, purple cress, squirrel corn, two leaf miter wort, wild ginger, trout lily, early blue cohosh
Pre bloom: two leaf toothwort, early meadow rue, trout lily
Done blooming: cutler toothwort, hepatica, bloodroot, woodland sedge
While on the upper trail, the barred owl flew along with me for a bit, exploring tree by tree.
Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.