Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Walk Down to Middle Creek

One side of our property is bordered by Middle Creek, which is roughly 40 feet wide in normal circumstances and becomes 3/8ths of a mile wide after 8-10 inches of rain. This stream is full of sandbars and little islands, and lined by trees that fall one by one into the water after major storms. The felled tree in this picture was a tall cherrybark oak (Quercus pagoda) which toppled during Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

Looking across the creek, with a large green hawthorn in the foreground. The log propped against the hawthorn was brought there by floodwaters. Whenever I see green hawthorn I think of a description that I read in Sally Wasowski's Gardening with Native Plants of the South: "The trunk on green hawthorn is wonderful -- fluted, twisting, and the color of apple-cinnamon ice cream."

Looking upstream

This is a slough that was dammed years ago by beaver and runs perpendicular to Middle Creek. It's a quiet backwater compared to the fast-moving creek. Willows, water tupelos, red maples and Hibiscus moscheutos grow out of the water. It's not at all unusual to scare up a pair of wood ducks, either from the slough or the creek, and I often see prothonotary warblers here in summer.

It's home to these yellow-bellied sliders basking in the sun. These guys are shy and dive into the water at the first sign of an intruder.

A hermit thrush who will be heading north or to the mountains soon. He has a lovely song that I sometimes hear before he leaves, a very haunting, flute-like melody.

The bark of a young River Birch is very beautiful, with its intricate paper-like scrolls and delicate coloring.

Looks like someone is excavating a nest cavity, probably a Carolina chickadee.

Today we spotted a pair of wood ducks, a pair of blue-gray gnatcatchers, a white-eyed vireo, and a flock of cedar waxwings. We could hear a pileated woodpecker calling nearby. The wild crabapple is covered in buds that are about to open. We missed seeing it in bloom last year, so I'm glad we checked on it.

P.S. Sunday I scared up the wood ducks again, in exactly the same spot. I wonder if perhaps they are using the nest box that my husband put up last November? One can hope. I think it may be a cold day in he double hockeysticks before I get a picture of these guys though. lol They are extremely wary.

I also saw a gray fox run across the clearing west of the big perennial bed yesterday afternoon, and heard a male bobwhite quail calling in the cover between the neighbor's pasture and our driveway.


  1. What a fund day! Thanks for taking us along!

  2. My browser crashes when I comment lately. Loved the turtles.

  3. Wild water and turtles, the bird and wildlife - nice.

    The red tree I what one!

    I also like the cat in-of the wheel, just sitting in the sun and relax!.


  4. Wonderful pics of the creek and wildlife. I bet the water is much higher than last year at this time.

  5. What a beautiful walk! You have all the best of the natural world on your property and I loved going along with you. The thrush song was quite nice, I will be listening for it in the future.

  6. Alicia, I had a wonderful time and the sun felt warm and there was a little breeze. What a magical place! I am totally charmed by the yellow sliders, the thrush and hearing about the shy wood ducks! Have a lovely week...we can survive one more cold spell! gail

  7. Beautiful can really sense the force of nature in them.


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