Monday, April 28, 2008

Spring comes to Crunchy Forest.

There's a little woodlot up the road, an irregular patch of birch, salal, a variety of conifers, European mountain ash and other introduced species. It is a strange, unnatural forest in the sense that almost everything growing there is historically incorrect. The succession of the land went from peat bog to suburban neighbourhood (quite a leap) to neglected suburban neighbourhood with birch forest (many trees hybrids of native birch and ornamental species) and Himalayan blackberry/salal understory scattered through what had been large back yards to partially manicured park. The city is trying to greenify its latest incarnation through suppression of introduced invasive plants and replanting with natives, but I'm not sure they know what they're doing.




Nevertheless, the birches look pretty right now, with their dainty pale green leaves slowly opening. The associated insect, particularly caterpillar, fauna is munching away, in turn being munched upon by the returning insectivorous migrants.

Orange-crowned Warblers forage near the ground. The fluff on the tree is from cattails.

Up high, too high for much chance of a decent photo, Yellow-rumped Warblers flit back and forth. Notice the yellow throat, making this the "Audubon's" form of the species, as opposed to the pale-throated "Myrtle," more common east of the mountains.

Why is it called "Crunchy Forest?" Well, really it isn't. But that's what it sounds like when you try to walk through it. The Himalayan blackberry is down, but not out. Some time last fall it was weed-whacked flat, but the tangle of crispy, dead canes is still there, a prickly blanket not allowing anything else to grow. No pretty spring flowers here.

The underfoot crunching makes it difficult to sneak up on wary migrants, such as this (I'm pretty sure) Pacific Slope Flycatcher. He wasn't saying anything.


The native bog habitat would have had clusters of shore pines amid seas of Labrador Tea and other low-growing shrubs. The Orange-crowns would have been there, but probably not the Yellow-rumps. Open-field, or scrub-inhabiting birds such as Gold Finches, Common Yellowthroats and Willow Flycatchers would be there, as well as generalists such as American Robins.

The grand switcheroo continues. What will happen next, and who will benefit, who will lose?

Birding never ends.

1 comment:

Chrisss said...

Hopefully we can save most of our forests before the invasive bettle get to them, or else we'll be crunching on wood chips for a loooong time.