Category Archives: Nature Trail

Celebrating Atlanta’s Original Forest

We’ve had a special guest staying with us the last few days:  Dr. Joan Maloof, author and Professor Emeritus at Salisbury University in Maryland, founded the Old-Growth Forest Network to preserve, protect and promote the country’s few remaining stands of old-growth forest.

“Teaching the Trees” – Joan Maloof

She’s been in Atlanta to induct 13 tracts of land in and near Atlanta into OGF Network (see the list below).  This is a remarkable number of additions and underscores what we already knew: Atlanta truly is a City in The Forest.

These forests have been identified and protected by many dedicated individuals who see their value and importance now and for future generations.  There are many heroes in this story,  but one who stands out is Kathryn Kolb, director of Eco-Addendum (Eco-A).

Eco-A is an organization whose stated mission is “is to raise awareness about Georgia’s rich natural environment, and through education, to reconnect people with the natural world”.  Sign up for one of Eco-A’s “Walk About Down Yonder” hikes;  they’re great and you’ll learn a lot about Atlanta and our forests.

Eco-Addendum organized and produced last night’s event, “Discovering Atlanta’s Original Forests”, on the Emory campus with over 200 people in attendance.  The program included a panel discussion about Atlanta’s trees moderated by Maria Saporta,  writer and frequent contributor to the AJC and the Atlanta Business Chronicle, and founder and editor of news website SaportaReport.com, and tree champion.

While Peachtree Park doesn’t qualify as an Old Growth Forest, it is a very valuable urban forest with many old, valuable trees.  We asked Joan to walk the Nature Trail with us yesterday and identify some of the trees.  She spent over 2 hours with us and helped us realize just how special this land is.  She also identified over a dozen species of trees which will be marked with information signs.

Loblolly Pine

Then we asked her to identify the pine tree in our back yard.  It’s a Loblolly, but the real news is that she estimates it to be over 130 years old!  We were stunned!  And we learned that Loblollies can live to be 200 – 300 years old.  We’ve lived beside this tree in our back yard for over 30 years and all the while had no idea it was that old.  There are many trees like this in Peachtree Park: old-growth trees that sustain wildlife and make this neighborhood a wonderful place to live.

Old-Growth Forest Inductions – April 25, 2017

  • Briarlake Forest and Hidden Acres Nature Preserve – DeKalb County
  • Cascade Springs Nature Preserve – City of Atlanta
  • Cumberlander – City of Atlanta
  • D’Agnese tract – City of Atlanta
  • Daniel Johnson Nature Preserve / Herbert Taylor Park – City of Atlanta
  • Deepdene Park – DeKalb County
  • Fernbank Forest – DeKalb County
  • Herbert Greene Park – City of Atlanta
  • Lionel Hampton-Beecher Hills Nature Preserve – City of Atlanta
  • Lullwater Conservation Garden – City of Atlanta
  • Osborne Park, City of Brookhaven – DeKalb County
  • Outdoor Activity Center – City of Atlanta

and these two private forests:

  • McConaughey Nature Preserve and Historic Site – DeKalb County
  • Mosman Forest – City of Atlanta, Fulton Country

 

 

Monthly Journal – July, 2016

July has been full of birds. We think our yard has never been as full of birds as this past month.  A cake of suet lasts about a day and a half and we’re filling large feeders every 4 days. Catbirds are everywhere, and we are getting up at sunrise to beat them and the robins to our ripening figs.

Birds are still fledging, and some bird houses up and down the street and on the Nature Trail are hosting their third brood of this season.  Two of the photos below, shot through our window, are of a baby catbird who wasn’t quite quite ready to fly and wound up in boxwood for a few hours.  His parents continued to feed him and eventually he got his wings and left.

What’s missing are butterflies and dragonflies.  They were everywhere this time last year and this year we are seeing very few.  Maybe the birds are eating the larvae.  We are hoping that mosquito spraying is not involved in their disappearance.

The last photo is of the newly resurfaced Nature Trail.  If you are in the neighborhood, you should go see it.

Monthly Journal – June, 2016

June was hot and dry.  Everybody’s looking for shade and water.  As a follow up to our last post, Bruce Hallett sent us three great photos of one of the juvenile Cooper’s Hawks enjoying his birdbath, which are below.  There is still nesting going on and the birdhouse on the Nature Trail closest to the garden area has a brood of Carolina Wren chicks.  They are keeping their parents busy and making so much noise you can hear them 25 feet away.  Remember there are those who are just beginning to nest, such as American Goldfinches ( see our blog from July last year Late Starters).

Surprise Hiker

Turtle on the Nature Trail

Eastern Box Turtle on the Nature Trail

You never know who you’re going to run into on the Peachtree Park Nature Trail.  A couple of days ago we came across this little female Eastern Box Turtle crossing from one side of the trail to the other.  Why do we think it’s a female?  Because before she ducked into her shell we got a quick look at her eyes and they were not red.  Males have red eyes.

About a year ago, our neighbor across the street sent us a photo of a baby turtle that he found in his back yard.  Who knows, it could be this same turtle.

Payton's Baby Turtle

Baby Eastern Box Turtle

Turns out that now is a good time to spot box turtles since it’s nesting season. Females nest from May through July laying 1 to 2 clutches of 5 eggs each.  Most hatchlings emerge from the nest in the fall.  Hatchlings are very secretive and are seldom seen until they are 2 or 3 years old. [1]

Habitat loss is their biggest threat.  They are long-lived with established home ranges and favorite habitat patches that they may visit each year at the same time. [1]

When roads fragment the box turtle’s habitat, entire populations can get wiped out.  We know this is true because we have a male box turtle that frequently crosses Darlington Road.  (see our post Slow, Turtles)

Look for these little guys when you walk or drive.  If you find one in the street or on a trail where they might get hit, move them to a safe spot in the direction they were moving.

[1]  Turtles of the Southeast – Kurt Buhlmann, Tacey Tuberville, and Whit Gibbons

Birds, Bees and Trees

Last month we did a post on Nesters on the Nature Trail and we hope you made it over to see all of the activity for yourself.  If not, be sure to check it out since some of the nesting birds may have a second brood.

Nature Trail ID Cards

Bird ID cards & native bee poster on the Burke Road entrance notice board

ID cards and markers are now available to help you identify birds, native bees and trees and plants while you are there.  Each card has a link to a web page with more information, and more ID cards will be added over time.

The trail is maintained and is currently being improved by volunteers.  See our page on the Peachtree Park Nature Trail for contact information if you’d like to get involved.

Monthly Journal – April, 2016

There’s been much nesting activity in April, as there should be.  Three of the four houses on the Peachtree Park Nature Trail have occupants and there is  a Red-bellied Woodpecker pair nesting in a snag on the trail: (see the recent post Nesters on the Nature Trail).   The bluebird house in the Darlington Road triangle is occupied, and Bluebirds are competing with Brown-headed Nuthatches for a box three houses down.  Birds are nesting in shrubbery in multiple locations in our yard and Carolina Wrens in the oven vent.  This is occurring all over the neighborhood, and most likely in your yard.

Also, Goldfinches descended in mass in the trees inback of us for several days and emptied the thistle feeders every day for a few days.  The morning chorus at sunrise continues to be quite loud; some singers go on almost all day, like the Brown Thrasher below.  It’s a great time of year.

Brown Thrasher singing in a dogwood tree

Nesters on the Nature Trail

Trail Entrance

Peachtree Park Nature Trail – Darlington Commons Entrance

The Peachtree Park Nature Trail is a gem tucked in along the southeast boundary of the neighborhood.   When you walk this path, have you considered how much wildlife this little spot of land supports?

As a part of Ryan Tuemler’s Eagle Scout merit badge, he built four bluebird-size houses and installed them along the trail.  Here’s the cool part: three of Ryan’s four houses have birds nesting in them right now!  The one closest to the community garden appears to still be waiting on occupants.  Thanks Ryan!  Hope things are well at West Point and wish you were here to see what you’ve done.

Birdhouse #2 has Eastern Bluebirds.  This video shows they are hard at work feeding their chicks.

Take a stroll down the Nature Trail and tell us which bird you think is in house #1 and house #3.  Please read our notes on etiquette and take care not to disturb the hard-working parents.

While we were checking out the birdhouses yesterday, we noticed a pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers who have built their own nest in the top of a snag near house #3.  So awesome to see in our neighborhood!

Thanks to all the volunteers who helped establish and are maintaining this trail!

Notes on Etiquette

Juts a few things to remember when watching nesters:

  • Keep a safe distance from the birdhouse: 20 – 30 feet is good – you can see a lot from this respectful distance.
  • Be patient. Bird parents are especially skittish when they’ve got babies. But if you’re quiet and still, they will think you’re safe and continue feeding.
  • Don’t go up to the birdhouse and certainly don’t touch it.
  • Don’t check the house early in the morning.  Also, avoid the nest at dusk and at night.
  • If you think you’ve disturbed the birds, then back up a little and give them some more room.

Nesting season is off to a great start!  Let us know who you have nesting in your yard.