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Winter Walk to Prairie Ridge

January 11, 2017

This blog post is brought to you by Julie Hall, citizen science educator at Prairie Ridge.  Thanks, Julie!

Prairie Ridge has been closed for a few days, but as always nature has been open for business! Yesterday I tried to drive to the Ecostation, but my car could not get up the hill on our street.  This was quite a stroke of luck in a way because it forced me to walk to work! Luckily, I live less than 3 miles away and can travel through forest and greenway the entire way.  I started my hike through Schenck Forest, a NCSU teaching and research forest.  From Schenck I hopped on the Capital greenway on Reedy Creek Road, onto the underpass to avoid crossing Edwards Mill Road, and into the back entrance off the greenway of Prairie Ridge Ecostation. Here are some highlights along the trails:

snow-1

Turned up earth makes me think Wild Turkeys, but I don’t see their tracks.  Perhaps it was deer or squirrels munching acorns since there are plenty of tracks nearby:

Squirrel tracks

Eastern Gray Squirrel tracks abound. Aren’t they the cutest?

Noticing many dark drippings and dust at the base of this oak…

sapsucker evidence

… I looked up and sure enough, fresh holes from a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! I saw and heard one about a mile down the trail, I wonder if it was the same one.

Crunch, crunch, crunch! A winter hike can be quite noisy.  But when I stopped to listen, the quiet stillness was so peaceful.  There was a lot of ice on the ground.

ive

Human tracks were interesting too. It looks like someone in the Triangle owns a pair of snowshoes!

snowshoe track

The tracks on the right look like an ice-traction shoe device was clipped on.

Yak tracks

That would have been handy.  I almost fell several times!

Walking through the greenway tunnel under Edwards Mill Road with Prairie Ridge in sight!

tunnel under road

Exiting the tunnel I heard the loudest bird song I had heard all hike long, and saw plenty of bird tracks in the snow!

bird tracks

Prairie Ridge attracts such a diverse bird population, it is a very popular birding spot.  It’s also a great location for the Museum’s ornithologists to research birds with bird banding.

So many tracks!

several tracks

Could it be? Is there still a bobcat here?

cat track

The pond was beautiful in its frozen state.

frozen pond

Can you spot the frozen feather?

frozen pond

The pond was surprisingly noisy! Ice cracking and melting in the sun and rising temperatures.

frozen pond

Further down the path, between the pond and arboretum, I crossed paths with a wildlife highway! So much activity, this place has been bustling.

lots of tracks

No photo montage is complete without a little scat! Where are you bunnies?

rabbit scat

The songbirds were waiting for the feeders to be filled ~ can you spot all five cardinals?

cardinals at the feeders

Next time it snows be sure to find your way to the closest forest and take a hike! You never know what surprises await.

Forest trail sign

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Lucy permalink
    January 11, 2017 5:21 pm

    Thank you for sharing. Fun to go on a winter adventure with you. Love all the photos.

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