Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New Trails on West Campus

There have been quite a few changes around campus since the last blog post.  The nursing school has moved out to west campus and that has increased our population quite a bit.  Along with their appearance is the appearance of some new 'running' trails on the other side of campus. 

Approximate path of new trails (in part)

I took a walk around one of the trails the other day behind the garden, what we used to refer to as the leaf pile.  Things have drastically changed and I'm assuming they will still change more.  The fantastic thicket that was made up of golden rod and multiflora rose has been largely clear cut.  This thicket in the past has yielded some great birds including, Wilson's Warbler, Brown Thrasher, and other late lingerers.  Although multiflora rose is an invasive, it does provide some great cover and is an excellent food source for wildlife, especially during the winter. 

Area that was clear cut at base of gardens.

The pink is the path I took (heading clockwise), the brown blob
 is my guess of the clearcut as of my walk (27 November 2013)
I actually like the fact that there are trails down there and I think it's a nice addition to the available 'amenities' that make working at west campus so nice.  Hopefully, with time and a little lack of maintenance the thickets will recover some.  There's also a nice patch of Japanese knotweed in the back of this early successional field that should be removed.  With luck they will concentrate on some people and wildlife friendly sustainable upgrades for the future. 

Chickadee working on a rose hip from remaining thicket
The word sustainable is thrown around quite often and I for one wasn't sure of the definition.  Here is what the EPA says in part "Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations."

European Starlings and Brown-headed Cowbirds thrive in edge and disturbed habitat.
B-h Cowbirds are nest parasites that may be reducing certain songbird populations
due to increased nest access from habitat fragmentation. 

Here are the birds I did find while I was walking.

This Downy Woodpecker,
a bird most people associate
with trees, explores
a little thicket patch.
Herring Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Red-tailed Hawk
Blue Jay
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Mourning Dove
Carolina Wren
Winter Wren
American Robin
European Starling
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
American Goldfinch
Brown-headed Cowbird

American Robins like the easy snacks the clear cutting
has made available.