Ahhhh, what a glorious first day of spring this March 20th is. A symphony of bird songs tickles our ears as we walk past puddles topped with a thin skin of ice, reminding us that winter is reluctant to let go, even though signs of spring are popping out all over.

Do you see the lacy fern-like leaves of the bleeding heart peaking through the leaf mulch – there on the forest floor. They are so delicate looking, don’t you think, as are those red alder catkins hanging like jewels from bare grey branches. The whole tree seems to glow a light red. It’s just over on the slope behind the power lines. Apparently the bark of the red alder can be used to make an orange or red dye. The colour achieved depends on the age and quality of bark used.

Are your eyes able to pick out the bright magenta of those tight salmon berry buds to our left? I was told that the salmon berry is one of the earliest berries to ripen – sometime in May or June. Oh what a feast for the birds and the bears!

The bright yellow of the swamp lantern, the fancy “newer name” for skunk cabbage, is so much easier to spot isn’t it? And if you can’t identify it by colour you most definitely will by its smell … skunk … ewww! As you notice, swamp lantern is found in the muckier, damper sections along the stream.

Lets pause for a moment. Scan the area around you. Note the bright green foliage … everywhere … this belongs to Indian-plum. Let your eyes follow the branches up to the dangling tear drop buds. They will soon burst open to offer sweet nectar to the areas many hummingbirds. Take a couple of leaves – just a couple – and crush them. What is that scent … cucumber!

The colours, the sounds and fragrances of spring are here – but only for a short while. Make time to experience them again – before it is too late.

Did I mention that our plant survey boasts 198 different types of plants in the Stoney Creek watershed? Talk about diversity – and the good news is you can already identify four of them!

If you would like to join us again, for a Thursday or Saturday morning stroll, check out our calendar tab for bird watching. I guarantee you will discover much more than birds!


Indian Plum photos by Randy Snyder and group photo by Louise G.

Indian Plum photos by Randy Snyder and group photo by Louise Grimshaw