Seventeen hearty individuals braved the cold (30 degrees), overcast and foreboding weather predictions on February 9th for Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s annual Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship (BRCES) nature walk/adventure.
Crunching, and often sliding, along the trails, the group actually had fun just being out-of-doors and learning a little bit about nature in winter.
We examined and discussed Praying Mantis (European and Carolina) eggs masses; the life cycle of Bagworms; a variety of galls, cankers and lichens; tree silhouettes, structures and barks; invasive plants; and the beauty of winter colors.
Although for the Bird enthusiasts, we didn’t see many, we did have great views of Black Vultures, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Brown Creeper as well as seeing/hearing Pileated and Downy woodpeckers, Ravens and a few flitting sparrows.
Half-way through our walk we were joined by Attila, BRCES’s farm manager and caretaker, who discussed the old ‘Neersville’ buildings and trails in the area.
The group delighted in finding, despite the long cold spell this year, Skunk Cabbages beginning to poke their flower heads up through the frozen ground.
After a long, arduous, climb up though the woods, we were greeted by a beautiful snow squall as we came out into the meadow. Several of us skidded down the snow packed slopes, nearly stepping on a Meadow Vole as it scampered for cover.
Back at the cars we could hardly get Gemma (Mud) to leave-she was having a great time sledding down the slopes on a cloth shopping bag!! Thanks to all who came along and made this a fun experience; next time maybe some “hot Chocolate’??
Photo Credits to Andrew Richardson