As you know, the Veg crews are out and about scaling mountains and bushwhacking through ravines. Ben, a member of the North Plant Crew, took some time to share some of the awesome non-veg findings they have encountered along the way. Check out all the fun stuff!
“With three weeks of data collection complete the northern plant crew has documented and encountered many species inhabiting Pennsylvania’s northern state park areas. Forests exhibiting different stages of succession have yielded a wide variety. Early morning truck rides have produced dozens of deer sightings including many does with fawns and several bucks in velvet. One decent-sized black bear was even spotted crossing the road several yards from our field truck.
“We flushed a ruffed grouse with about 6 fledglings. Causing a bit of a traffic jam, we stopped the truck and beeped the horn. Two little fluff balls flew into the woods. After driving another 10 yards and beeping again, mother and young left the road and granted us access.
“There is a lot of walking and a lot of rocks on the way to plots. Looking underneath rocks is a bit of a pastime. Dozens of ring-necked snakes have been found along with red-backed salamanders, northern two-lined salamanders, spring salamanders, and dusky salamander species. We’ve seen gorgeous garter snakes wandering the forest floor and crossing road sides. To round out the herps, three beautiful wood turtles have graced our days.
“Many species of butterflies have been spotted flitting about. Tiger swallowtails, black swallowtails, mourning cloaks, red admirals, white admirals, red spotted purples, spring and summer azures, eastern-tailed blues, hobomok skippers, silver spotted skippers, northern crescents, pearl crescents, and great spangled fritillaries have been seen puddling for nutrients on road sides, taking nectar from various flowers, and patrolling territories.
Tiger swallowtail butterflies pudding nutrients from bird droppings.
“Avian vocals fill the woods with musical notes each day as we make our way via GPS through the forest. Black throated blue warbler, Canada warbler, yellow warbler, black and white warbler, blackburnian warbler, common yellow-throat, American red-start, red-tailed hawk, Cooper’s hawk, barred owl, gray catbird, oven bird, wood thrush, hermit thrush, American woodcock, northern bobwhite, red-eyed vireo, black-billed cuckoo, scarlet tanager, Baltimore oriole, song sparrow, chipping sparrow, and eastern blue birds have all been seen, heard, or flushed.
Round leaved orchid (Platanthera orbiculata)
“Before leaving our completed plots, we make sure all stakes have been re-painted, witness trees scribed and re-painted, GPS coordinates recorded, plot photos taken, all data saved, and all gear accounted for. As we head back to the truck, we wonder what we might encounter on our next trek into the woods.”
Being immersed in the field everyday affords all our crews the opportunity to become great naturalists. What’s even better is that they share it with us! Whether it runs, flies, slithers or simply bears “witness,” we can all appreciate the life within Penn’s woods.