Date: 4/23/18 6:56 am
From: Judy & Don <9waterfall9...>
Subject: Earth Day NWAAS Field Trip to Ninestone
Today we celebrated a spectacular Earth Day 2018 at Ninestone with 19 naturalists whose ages span 70 years.

Our field trip occurred 48 years after the first Earth Day, which I attended joyfully on the lawn of the Philadelphia Art Museum. All those years ago I fully believed that humans would come to revere the environment, the ecology, the habitats, and the myriad creatures with which we share this beautiful planet. Today Don and I are deeply grateful for Joe Neal and the wonderful people he brings to Ninestone, who do find life on our blue planet sacred, and we are heartened that every person who was here today is both a teacher and a lifelong student of the Earth.

Last night’s 1.5” of gentle rain refreshed the creek and waterfall, dripped from pine needles, softened the lichens and moss, and encouraged buds of trees to emerge just enough to hint at the greening to come, but not yet enough to obscure the birds. The rain stopped before we began and temperatures in the 60°s with occasional patches of blue made the entire day even more pleasant.

We overlooked the singing creek from several vantage points, passed below native shortleaf pines in the savanna, and explored paths across the bluff glade where Golden Selenia and False Garlic are in bloom, and the foliage of Fame Flower, Widow’s Cross Sedum, and Spiderwort promise flowers soon.

Following our midday potluck that was enjoyed on the deck while we watched birds visit the feeders, several graduate students, colleagues, and friends of Dr. Kim Smith honored him by speaking about the impact he had made on their lives. Joe Neal told of their decades of work together and of Kim’s sense of humor. Alyssa DeRubeis, Anant Deshwal, and Pooja Panwar shared memories of Kim’s calm encouragement and uncanny insight into their potential; and others remembered his contributions as a beneficial force for humans and the Earth.

Then we drove across the stream to pastures, speculated about which raptors are using a large nest in the top of a pine, birded the “Enchanted Valley” for more warblers, and ended up at the falls where Violet Blue-eyed Mary, Ozark Trillium, and Bird’s-foot Violets bloom.

Judith & Don

Ninestone, Carroll County

Here’s our bird list for today:

Black Vulture (bluff nesting pair)

Turkey Vulture


Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Mourning Dove

Chimney Swift * (first of season)

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Eastern Phoebe

White-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay

American Crow

Fish Crow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Carolina Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse

White-breasted Nuthatch

Carolina Wren (fledglings too)

House Wren * (first of season, singing near a huge brush pile)

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Eastern Bluebird

Swainson’s Thrush* (first of season)

Cedar Waxwing (nearly 3 dozen in one flock on one cedar)

Blue-winged Warbler (several in Enchanted Valley)

Orange-crowned Warbler (Enchanted Valley)

Northern Parula (courtship beside deck during lunch)

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler

Pine Warbler

Black & White Warbler


Louisiana Waterthrush (in nesting territories along stream)

Kentucky Warbler * (first of season)

Hooded Warbler * (first of season Enchanted Valley)

Yellow-breasted Chat * (first of season)

Eastern Towhee

Chipping Sparrow (breeding behavior native plant garden)

Field Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow (all day chorus breeding plumage brilliant yellow lores)

Summer Tanager * (first of season)

Northern Cardinal

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (4 males, 1 female so far)

Brown-headed Cowbird

House Finch

Pine Siskin

American Goldfinch

Other findings:

Brown Snake

Ring-necked Snakes (freshly hatched)

Five-lined Skinks (youngsters with blue tails)

Ground Skink

Spring Peepers (singing from Bog Spring in Enchanted Valley)

Luna Moth (newly eclosed brilliantly colored)

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