Twenty-two woods enthusiasts turned out in the damp rain on February 16 for a nature discovery walk led by local naturalist Elaine Kash (including two of the four-legged species Canis lupis familiaris). Walkers learned about native and nonnative forest flora and listening to more stories from the woods. Nakash began by suggesting looking on the ground for leaves to identify deciduous trees that are bare in winter. On the ground Nakash also uncovered Cranefly Orchid, with its green leaves with dark purple undersides, and partridgeberry with bright red berries at the base of a tree. Nearby, walkers compared three ground plants that produce by spores — creeping Crows’ foot, Ground Pine, and Christmas Fern. Those with magnifying glasses examined buds and leaf scars to identify a small Black Gum tree. The group learned how the length and shape of pine needs and bark can be used to differentiate pine species. Other trees identified included Sweet Gum, Tulip Poplar, Maple, Pitch and Loblolly Pine. Hikers enjoyed naming many mammals sighted in the woods including squirrels, raccoons, bats, skunks, deer, and the less commonly seen flying squirrels, bobcats, and coyotes. Mugs of hot chocolate and other goodies were enjoyed by all at the walk’s end.
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