Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Arrow Park Nature Walk

On Sunday a group of “Friends of Arrow Park” got together to hike to the waterfall there in Sterling Forest, with the hope of identifying some native flora and fauna along the way. The hike was led by naturalist John Yrizarry.

He and his wife Mary are conservationists -- they’ve been working with the Orange County Land Trust on keeping Sterling Forest in its beautiful, pristine state. We have people like John and Mary to thank for making sure that future generations will be able to enjoy the serenity of rare and precious spots like Arrow Park – and maybe even tell their children what species exist there!

If you want to know how to tell a turkey vulture from a black vulture, ask John.

He knows his birds. But he can tell you a lot about plants, too. Below are a few highlights from our walk.

Knotweed (polyganum) –
It was notable that other invasive weeds like garlic mustard and purple loosestrife were mostly absent from the woods.

Since we’ve had such rainy humid weather here lately, the mushrooms and fungi were in abundance. John explained to us the difference between a "gilled" and a "pored" mushroom and provided examples.

There were lots of varieties of moss. Some of the most prevalent were pincushion (Leucobryum glaucum).
and Juniper (polytrichum) moss.

Turkey Tail mushroom (Trametes versicolor).
Old man of the wood mushroom (Strobilomyces spp.)

(I think I see an old man's face!)

Phragmites australis
(a common invasive reed often found all over the place in marshy areas)

Spruce trees are being planted on the ridge here in memory of victims of 9/11.
Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens).

Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) - invasive in the northeast, but beloved by birds.

Red Oak (Quercus rubra).

John thinks this might be one of the biggest red oaks in the area - but it's not as old as you might think. It's just been very well nourished because it's near the waste stream.

I didn’t manage to get photos of any of the animals we saw – they just weren't posing for me. But among those spotted:

Water snake and leopard frog

Green heron and Blue heron

(photos from Wikipedia)

Then, finally, the falls...

Gotta get the feet wet to make the experience complete.

Special thanks to Sandy Derevnuk for organizing the hike and her devoted efforts on behalf of Arrow Park.

You can find out more about Arrow Park on their website at The Orange County Land Trust site can be found here.
If you would like to join the "Friends of Arrow Park" email list, just send me an email at and I'll make sure that you're added. There will be a plein aire painting class on August 29, and a yoga class on September 6.


tina said...

I just love the sound of rushing water from a stream. Your hike looked nice and cool and fun. Ew on the mushroom though! That looked gooey. The moss is so inviting!

Anonymous said...

People like this make me giddy. I want to sit and pick their brains--find out all the struggles in making the Arrow Park what it is.

Looks like a pretty day with a nice cool waterfall at the end. Interesting that the mushroom have come out so nicely. It feels like finding something magical when you happen on one doesn't it?

Bangchik and Kakdah said...

Lovely walk through the nature park. I remembered a man holding a peeled banana waiting patiently for birds to come in Hyde Park, decades ago. The birds came and the old man smiled.

Traci said...

Ugghh... I HATE moss lol. Whenever I go to the lake with my little brother, he always ends up throwing it at me! lol