Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for a walk in the woods

Today, I went with Diane, Ron, and Roy for a walk along Spicer Creek. It is one of a series of creeks in Grand Island. The creek, like all of the rest of the island's creeks, is not in the best condition. The four of us wanted to view the creek and see what was causing the problems.

There are a variety of problems with the creeks. One of the problems is something called "fish barriers." Fish, such as northern pike and walleye, need to be able to travel to their spawning grounds. In the creeks, there are impediments to the free travels of fish. Some are natural, while others are man made. Another problem is the quality of the water. Are there foreign objects in the water? Is there a lot of soil erosion around the creeks? In some areas, soil erosion and lawn chemicals cause problems for the creeks.

We started our walk near a few fast food restaurants and other businesses. We saw a good deal of debris in and near the water. There were large styrofoam containers, tires, cans, bottles, large chunks of concrete, and paper. It was a mess. As we traveled away from the mess created by human beings, we saw other things, such as trees chewed by beavers, dams built in the water, dead trees fallen in the water, and other things. We could see where critters had traveled. Some of the tree bark had been rubbed off by deer antlers. There were various types of animal poop on the ground. Apparently, you can identify the animal by its poop. In fact, there is a field of study, called scatology, which is the study of feces.

I never had any interest in becoming a scatologist but, then again, I had never heard of the word until fairly recently.

We noticed that many of the trees near Spicer Creek were ash trees. Grand Island is loaded with ash trees. In Beaver Island State Park, approximately half of the trees are ash trees. Unfortunately, the emerald ash borer was spotted on Grand Island more than a year ago. This insect, which was accidentally imported to the United States from China via wooden packaging pallets, has proven itself to be extremely devastating to the ash trees. The first city to be negatively affected by the emerald ash borer was Detroit. Thousands of its ash trees were killed by the emerald ash infestation.

So anyway, we walked past the large group of ash trees and, then, we camp upon large numbers of pin oak and swamp oak. These are trees that grow well in saturated soil. Grand Island's soil tends to be saturated quickly because it is clay, and clay absorbs water slowly. Here is an interesting fact about pin oaks. They produce extremely small acorns.  Also, every now and then, we saw crab apple trees and shagbark hickory trees.

We also saw evidence of animal life, especially mink, beavers, coyotes, and deer. We did not see any fish in the creek, although, by this time of year, the creek should have been filled with small fish, such as minnows. The lack of fish could have been caused by the fish barriers. We also saw evidence of human activities: a snowmobile trail, a deer stand, a duck blind, and a tree house.

In the area that Roy, Ron, Diane, and I walked, we saw little evidence of soil erosion and of lawn chemicals. The houses were a good distance from the creek, and the area around the creek was relatively wild.

The walk was fun and adventurous. We walked around vines and fallen trees. Several times, it started to rain but it didn't rain hard enough to cancel the walk, which lasted for about two hours. We will walk another section of the creek, including a section near a golf course, later this week.

2 comments:

Kebba Buckley Button said...

Alice, greetings! I'm visiting from the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Your area sounds beautiful. What state/country are you in? I love natural watercourses, and you raise a number of interesting points. A relative of mine lives in Denver, and the biggest impediment to healthy streams in her neighborhood was beaver activity! Stream managers had to keep dismantling the fallen wood and dams these energetic little guys seemed to cause overnight. Btw, why do you not want to share your wildflower photos? You can use editing software to put your copyright within each--just a thought--All the best--

LivingforGod said...

What a wonderful walk you had! I enjoyed reading about your adventure. I even learned something new like scatology :).

~Urailak

Super sized garden: #WordlessWednesday

seen in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario