I thought I’d share a few photos of the trail taken by my grandson, Eric, during his recent visit.  Hope you enjoy them!

a soon-to-be-completed woodland healing garden

a relaxing stop along the way (and home to a friendly Carolina Wren!)

a garden honoring the memory of our dog Beaufort

one of our little "nooks" along the trail

leave your worries behind ...

one of our Shagbark Hickories taken from an interesting perspective - by Eric Hughes

… are no excuse for an utter lack of blog content for the past several months!  Please don’t misinterpret my lack of words for a low level of commitment or enthusiasm, as this certainly is not the case.  Actually, despite the 30+ days of over-ninety-degree weather this summer (a very bad time to do any planting), there has been lots of activity at Beaufort’s Run.  For one, earlier this summer we were privileged to be one of the destinations for Pottstown Garden Club’s annual garden tour.    So glad we participated this year!  We met so many wonderful people who share our interest in gardening and nature, plus we were blessed with beautiful weather to boot!

After the garden tour was behind us and we were faced with nothing but extreme heat, we decided it would be an opportune time to begin our search for an underground spring that would adequately feed a pond when it’s all said and done.  So, we’ve been digging one small hole after another throughout the property, each time hoping to catch a glimpse of moisture seeping in from below.  We’ve hit a few possibilities, now it’s just a waiting game to determine if the water that seeps in will actually stay in!  Once we find the spot we’re looking for, we will keep digging until we create yet another peaceful destination for our community in the form of a water garden.

Red-tailed Hawk perched in the vineyard

Despite the tiny size of our water-feature-in-the-making, a couple of hawks have been visiting each day to grab a drink in the few inches of water that have accumulated in one of the holes.  My grandson has identified one as a Red-tailed, but we also have a Rough-legged (based on my limited id skills!).  Each hawk, no matter how different their markings, all share one thing in common – stately beauty.

how 'bout a little privacy, eh???

The hawks haven’t been alone in their quest for liquid refreshment, as we’ve also had a multitude of frogs and toads hanging out by the new watering hole.   We can’t begin to imagine what new faces we’ll see once the hole becomes an actual pond!

This summer we’ve also had the pleasure of meeting talented writer and blogger Jen Hetrick.  Jen writes for the Community Connection newspaper and maintains two blogs (visit http://thegardenharlot.blogspot.com and  http://newsnotblues.blogspot.com).  We want to thank her for writing a wonderful piece about us for the Community Connection a couple of weeks ago!  Here is the online version: Mother and Daughter Create Sanctuary for Reflection.   I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Jen through hours of talking about my hopes and dreams for Beaufort’s Run, and she has been so supportive and understanding of our efforts.  Definitely check out her blogs when you get the chance.  In fact, you may even come across a print version of her “News, not blues” in a local business, and if you do be sure to pick one up.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised that it contains only GOOD news!!

Also thanks to Sue Repko, author of Positively Pottstown,  a fun and informative blog about all that Pottstown has to offer, for including a piece about Beaufort’s Run Sanctuary in her blog.  It turns out that Rosemary Keane, Pottstown resident and freelance writer, actually wrote the Beaufort’s Run article after being here on the garden club tour, and she submitted it to Sue!  Thanks so much to both of you for your support and kind words!  You can read the blog post here: Wooded Sanctuary Close to Home.

Keep us in mind if the heat is getting to you.  The temperature seems to go down by about 20 degrees in the woods, so it’s actually very pleasant to walk the trail now even though it isn’t so pleasant out in the direct sun!

A 35-degree morning with wind and clouds wouldn’t be the conditions that I would have chosen for our Annual Spring Bird Walk.  Under such conditions, surely both people and birds would choose to stay hunkered down in their warm “nests” rather than expose their bodies to this winter-like wear and tear!  If only we had moved the walk up a week or two to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather, or perhaps moved it back a week or two in hopes that May would bring more dependable warmth.  That’s what I was thinking on Saturday night.

One of our little Chickadees

Then came Sunday morning, which was made of the stuff of a Christmas Bird Count.  Even the Juncos seemed confused as to their destination.  North?  South?  But then something magical happened.  The people started to filter in, hot coffee in the hands of most.  First, our friends from My Little Chickadee Birding Store (www.mylittlechickadeellc.com) with beautiful Suet & Seed Gift Bags for everyone.  Within minutes, every last registered participant showed up, in spite of the weather.  Our leader from the Valley Forge Audubon Society, Vince Smith, arrived with scope in tow, looking as enthusiastic as ever to potentially catch a glimpse of a spring migrant, or even a Blue Jay, as Vince seems in awe over every bird, showing equal respect to each and every species.

You lookin' at me??

After an interesting and informative introduction by Vince, the group finally made it off of the driveway and onto the woodland trail, where even the slightest protection from the cold wind made a substantial difference to our shivering bodies.  As Vince pointed out, the early Warbler migrants have been relatively quiet so far this season, despite the earlier warm spell.  So we proceeded, not expecting too much.

In the end, the bird count was nothing to scoff at, although not quite as high as last year.  Here it is:

Vince and our grandson, Eric, comparing notes

  • American Crow
  • American Robin
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Blue Jay
  • Northern Flicker
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Red-Bellied Woodpecker
  • Red-Tailed Hawk
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • White-Breasted Nuthatch
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • American Goldfinch
  • Canada Goose
  • Yellow-Rumped Warbler (yeah!)
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Palm Warbler (LIFER!!)
  • Song Sparrow
  • Common Grackle
  • Mourning Dove

The total for the walk:  25.  Truly not bad considering the conditions.  Also, the Palm Warbler was a first for many in the group, so that made any physical discomfort well worthwhile!  Come to think of it, though not wanting to sell short the Palm Warbler, the people who participated were the real bonus of the event.  Not only were there a bunch of  special people we already knew, but there were also quite a few new friends who came into our lives for the very first time yesterday.  I’m finding out very quickly through our work with Beaufort’s Run that the individuals who appreciate the beauty of their natural surroundings and place a high priority on getting out there in those surroundings are all incredibly kind, caring people!  What wonderful conversations we all had over hot … well, warm …. coffee and muffins after the walk.  It really made my day and made it apparent that this will be one of many such gatherings at Beaufort’s Run.  Not only was it a successful bird walk, it was also food for my soul.

Yesterday was spent cleaning up all of the sticks and debris that resulted from our snowy, sometimes windy, winter.  I want to make sure the place looks as nice as possible for our 2nd Annual Spring Bird Walk in a few weeks.  It’s exciting to think that the daffodils may still be in bloom for the event.   Last year’s walk was early in May, a bit too late for the daffodils and too early for some of the other plantings.

Mr. White-throated from the 2009 Spring Bird Walk

Not only that, but the 2009 Spring Bird Walk was marked by very chilly, rainy weather!  Ugh!  Well, not really “ugh” – we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves despite the conditions plus the birds were actually out in droves!  Our guide, Vince Smith of Valley Forge Audubon, tallied just over 30 species on that nasty weather day!  So, needless to say, we are very excited to find out what’s out there this year.  We’re hoping that the weather cooperates, but even if it doesn’t, we’ll bring our umbrellas and, at the very least, have a nice wet walk with incredible people!

Now for the cool things that I saw during my cleanup!  So far we have some Spring Beauties, Bloodroot and daffodils popping up throughout the woods.

Some of the first daffodils of 2010

Blood Root! A welcome woodland flower!

The cleanup is far from over, but if I continue to find these beautiful little treasures while “working,” I really can’t consider it “work”, can I??!  I’ll be posting more about the upcoming bird walk, so stay tuned.  If, in the meantime, you’d like more information on that event, please visit our website http://www.beaufortsrun.com.

Welcome Back, Spring!

Our Winter Water Feature

Finally got out on the trail yesterday.  Lots of interesting things are happening there, but most of those interesting things are currently immersed in water!  Obviously 3+ feet of melting snow = a bunch of flooding.  Just a few months ago we were complaining because we lack an actual water feature on the property.  Well, not any more!

A tough faraway capture of a Pileated Woodpecker by my grandson!

The birds are out in full swing.  Although it’s too early for the migrants, we caught sight of a bluebird couple and basically every type of woodpecker known to our area, including a Pileated – way cool!  Of course that isn’t surprising based on the number of woodpecker holes we saw.  We have a wonderful habitat for them here, as there a quite a few dead trees that make for ideal woodpecker palaces! We also saw or heard our typical residents – Titmice, Cardinals, Robins, and a few White-Throated Sparrows.   It doesn’t seem as though our Robins left us at all this winter.  We’ve seen them scurrying about throughout the season.  Although they seem much happier now that they don’t have to dig through so much snow to find their food!

There are always interesting treasures left behind by the wildlife after a cold winter.  We’re not sure whose jaw this is, but it obviously was the only thing still left on somebody’s dinner plate.

Leftovers!

I must say that the best part of the hike for me was the moment I caught a glimpse of a cluster of daffodils pushing through the soil!  It won’t be long until hundreds of flowers are popping up along the trail to display their spring beauty!  Yippee!

Can't wait to see you again!

As we endure our … hmmm… what is it now …. 6th snowstorm, I admit to shunning the thought of posting more snow pictures.  Instead I am opting for a post of a spring photo from last year!  If we have to wait a bit longer for the warmth and sunshine in 2010, at least we have memories from 2009!

The snowy winter in Southeastern PA has certainly been beautiful.  In years past I would complain, ad nauseam, about the never-ending rain, sleet and dampness that is typical of our area during January and February.  At the beginning of this winter, I swore that if the beauty of snow would replace our usual rain and frozen mix, I would be content.  No more complaining.  I swore.

Bloodroot popping up to say "hello"

Mother Nature was listening, apparently.  So I’m going to hold true to my word.  I  love to see the delicate white flakes falling against the woodland backdrop.  I enjoy watching the deer and fox and birds trying to make their way in the deep snow.  Most of them are able to cope on their own, but the least I can do is offer them a few guaranteed feeding spots.  After

all, they provide us with a free show of their incredible beauty all year round!

This snow may go on for quite a while, and if it does, I ‘ll just watch and wait and appreciate.  We have all we need here to weather the storm(s) – much to be grateful for, nothing to complain about.

Can somebody tell me where the kids are? Okay, it may be cold. It may be snowy. But where are the kids?? When we were young, didn’t we go outside in the winter and play in the snow? This all started running through my mind yesterday. I was outside for a bit, and all I could hear was the sound of …. silence. No laughter. No yells. Just silence. It struck me as odd because, after all, it was a school holiday, so the kids were all at home. Also, the sun was out and the temperature was rather mild, at least compared to some of our previous February days.

Get out and make a snow face!

One of our favorite books is Rich Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods.” I was already aware of “nature deficit disorder” prior to reading this book, although, in my mind I had never termed it as such. We highly recommend this book, as it puts our kids’ lack of outdoor time into perspective. Whether directly or indirectly, minimizing quality time at play amidst nature has a negative effect on our society. So many of the health issues of our time, both mental and physical, are caused by stress and lack of physical activity. This needs to change. Could the problem be that in an attempt to protect nature we are forgetting that we, too, are a part of it? How will our children learn to appreciate their earth if they are too scared, or too busy, to explore it?

Get out and Geocache!

We are looking forward to playing an important role in the movement to get kids outdoors and away from their tv’s, video games, etc.  Come this Spring, we intend to lead a 4H Club named “Just Get Out” for home-schooled kids in our community. Here they will develop a relationship with the trees and the soil. They will learn the role of the birds and all of the other “critters” in the circle of life.

We will teach them that we are not separate from, but one with, our surroundings.

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