The TGPAS field trip on Saturday, March 22nd, will be along part of the Laurel Bluff Trail, which is in the City of Greensboro Watershed Trail System. We will meet at Friendly Shopping Center at the usual TGPAS rendezvous point (see below) at 9:00 am to carpool to the trailhead with the intention of beginning the walk at around 9:30. We expect to be finished around noon. Be sure to bring a bottle of water and wear clothes that are appropriate for early changeable spring weather.
Since Laurel Bluff is a linear trail, we will walk east for about an hour, then turn around and take our time walking back to the parking area. This isn’t a “hike” in the classic sense in that the emphasis will be on wildlife watching, not on fitness walking. We will be stopping frequently to look at and study plants. We’ll also pay attention to birds, of course, and there may even be a few butterflies out by that time. It will be a good walk for beginners (including older kids), as well as experienced folks, and photographers will easily be accommodated. We’re hoping for a warm sunny spring day, but as with all our outings, unless it’s actually raining, we’ll go even if it’s cloudy. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes that can tolerate a little mud if the trail is damp.
The rendezvous point will be in Greensboro in front of the Whole Foods Market in Friendly Shopping Center. We’ll meet folks at the edge of the parking lot closest to Friendly Avenue between Chik-fil-A and BB&T. For those who want to meet us at the trailhead, it is a gravel parking area on the east side of Lake Brandt Road across the street and just north of Lake Brandt Marina next to a City pump station near the dam.
On previous visits to Guilford County Open Space preserves in the southwest part of the county we have briefly poked into the McCandless Woods Preserve. However, we have not given it a thorough exploration. This time will be different, as it will be our only destination.
The preserve is adjacent to Southern Guilford high and elementary schools, and as the name implies it is mostly wooded. It has been many years since any logging has been done there so we will find many very large oaks, poplars and hickories. The natural area is traversed by several small streams which will afford us a chance to also discover some bottomland-dwelling critters and flora. We may see a few very early wildflowers, and as trees will not have leafed out, we should be able to get good views of some winter birds.
Please plan to join us on Sunday, March 9th, to explore one of the newest Open Space preserves. As always, we will meet in the Whole Foods parking lot between Chick-fil-A and the BB&T building in Friendly Shopping Center. Please arrive by 1:45 as we will leave promptly at 2:00. We will plan to be back about 5:00. Youngsters are welcome and encouraged when accompanied by an adult. Bring your binoculars, a walking stick if you have one, and expect an enjoyable late winter afternoon.
The sun was shining. The temperature was in the mid-50s. And fourteen folks took advantage of the unusually nice winter weather to explore the uplands and bottomlands of the Conrad Unit of the Mears Fork Open Space Preserve during the February Second Sunday Walk. Winter birds were scarce and spring wildflowers were still hunkered down in the forest soil. Nevertheless, we saw or heard Red-shouldered Hawks, American Crows, Black and Turkey Vultures, Slate-colored Juncos, and the tell-tale scratching in the leaf litter indicating the presence of Wild Turkeys. On the nearby pond we saw Hooded Mergansers, Mallards, Ring-necked Ducks, and Canada Geese.
As our intrepid walkers moved down into the flood plain and up onto the bluffs bordering the bottomlands a nice variety of flora was found. The giant American Beech trees were striking with their golden leaves from last year still attached. Northern Red Oak, Mockernut and Shagbark Hickory, Sourwood, Ironwood, and American Holly were also seen. Among the herbaceous layer were found Maidenhair Fern, Ebony Spleenwort, Puttyroot and Cranefly Orchids, Rattlesnake Plantain and Beechdrops.
All in all, a very pleasant walk in the winter woods. We’ll do it again on the March Second Sunday Walk at the McCandless Woods Open Space Preserve on March 9th. Plan to join us!