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Friday, May 31, 2013

TLC Travels - Scottish Highlands Day 7

Yesterday's long journey between Portree and Staffin included a stop at the basaltic igneous intrusion known as Kilt Rock in Trotternish (pictured). Away from the coast in Staffin, the road lead to the Quiraing, which is another geological wonder caused by hard igenous rock cracking and spliting as older and softer sedimentary rock collapsed underneath. 
Continuing the trip south today provides fantastic views of the soft, rolling red hills and the contrasting jagged Black Cuillins towering above the road. The group is headed to the Sleat Peninsula to explore the area known as the Garden of Skye, fostering the most diverse habitat on the island. Stay updated with pictures by clicking here as the remainder of the first week comes to a close. 
Kilt Rock

Aigas Staff Ranger. "Sharing the Wonders of the Wild Highlands."

Thursday, May 30, 2013

TLC Travels- Scottish Highlands Continued!

Isle of Skye, Portree
Day 6: Isle of Skye 

We have received more updates from our TLC group traveling throughout Scotland. They traveled from Aigas House in Beauly via Shieldaig to Isle of Skye, and are staying three days at Viewfield, a former Victorian hunting estate. The current landscape of Skye is the result of intense volcanic activity over millions of years with continuous moulding due to natural forces of ice, wind and sea. During their time at Skye, the group will visit scenic landmarks such as, the great mountain range of Cuillin, the deep western sea lochs, volcanic landforms, and the most sheltered straths and glens in the south.
Apothecary Tower Isle of Skye
All of these features combine to create an island of unique character, rich in flora, fauna and turbulent history. Friday the group will continue south to The Kyle Line. Stay tuned and click here to view more pictures from the Isle of Skye! 
Viewfield, former Victorian hunting estate.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

TLC Travels- The Scottish Highlands

House of Aigas circa 1700s.
Home of Aigas Field Center since 1976. 
The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (TLC) travels to the Scottish Highlands with an adventurous group of TLC members, and biologist leader, Karen Travers. The small group arrived at the Aigas Field Centre on Sunday May 26th, a Victorian sporting lodge fully equipped with an extensive arboretum, formal gardens, native pinewoods, birch woodlands, exotic plantations, moorland and agricultural lands. This will be their home base for the next two weeks. A house tour was given by the owner, Sir John Lister-Kaye (pictured below), followed by a guided walk through the Aigas Nature Trail.

Sir John Lister-Kaye with Nip and Tuck.

Hike in the Caledonian Forest.

Spring arrived 5 weeks late this year in the Highlands so the group was able to enjoy daffodils and tulips twice this year - a real treat! Today, the group took a short trip to Glen Affric and the Caledonian forest, one of the most beautiful glans in the Highlands. Click here for more pictures of the Scottish Highlands trip, and stay tuned as they continue their adventure through vast and beautiful sites such as, Isle of Skye, Orkney Islands and more!

Interested in hearing about the rest of our trip?

TLC Travels--Scottish Highlands Continued
TLC Travels--Scottish Highlands Day 7
TLC Travels--Leaving the Isle of Sky
TLC Travels--Black Isle

TLC Travels--Orkney
TLC Bids Farewell To Aigas and the Scottish Highlands

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day In Honor of Bucktoe Cemetery

In honor of Memorial Day, TLC wanted to share a special post regarding the importance of the Bucktoe Cemetery to those who have worked, volunteered or participated in the archaeological digs. 

Eugene Hough assisting students on the archaeology digs. 
"Bucktoe Cemetery is a part of our history and deserves all of the time and respect volunteers can give. I enjoy helping out and being a part of such a rewarding project." - Julie Dixon, volunteer for archaeological digs. 
"In the spirit of silent cities, cemetery classrooms, The Land Conservancy, Heritage Guild Works, and The New Garden UAME Church continues with the interesting process of archaeological digs of the church foundation." - Eugene Hough, Heritage Guild Works

"I had a great time at Bucktoe Cemetery. It was an amazing experience. I learned that some people couldn’t afford fancy headstones, so they just used regular stones or rocks to mark graves." - Technical College High School student regarding the archaeological digs. 

"The historical significance of the cemetery is that African American civil war soldiers were buried there. You perform an archeological dig with a lot of patience. You perform the dig by going layer by layer into the earth uncovering pieces of the past. I worked on digging inside the church. We found many items including glass, pottery, wood, nails, and burnt wood. The trip to Bucktoe Cemetery was very fun.  I enjoyed it a lot and would recommend it to anybody."  - Technical College High Student regarding the archaeological digs.

"Memorial day is important because it is the one day set aside where we can remember and honor those brave people who fought and gave their lives for our country." John 15:13 King James Version, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. - Crystal Crampton, New Garden UAME Church. 

Stay tuned for more updates from the Bucktoe Cemetery. Contact for information on ways to become involved!  

Chronicles Day 2012: Honoring those civil war soldiers laid to rest. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Holiday weekend Ideas

Are you and your family staying close to home this holiday weekend?  If the answer is yes (and you live nearby), we invite you to come take a family hike at one of our nature preserves: Stateline Woods Preserve, Marshall Bridge Preserve (aka Auburn Heights II), Vincenti Preserve, or Marshall Mill House Preserve.  Each one offers unique habitat and varying views.  You can also check out some of the programs we have going on this weekend.
  • Check out the Apiary at the Vincenti Preserve with the Open Hive Day taking place on Saturday from 9:30 until 11:00am. 
  • Or join us for our Seasonal Grasses hike with botanist Janet Ebert at Bucktoe Creek Preserve, Saturday May 25 from  9:00am -- 12:00pm.    
Afterwards you can do a little scavenger hunt with the family to see if you can tell us where we saw this Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) shown here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Solitary Sandpiper

This guy was seen hanging out by the Red Clay Greenways trail.  I think the correct identification is a Solitary Sandpiper, but shorebirds are definitely not my specialty so please correct me if I have incorrectly identified him/her. 

A great way to bone up on your shorebird ID is to come to the Bucktoe Creek Preserve Shorebird Watch with Larry Lewis daily from 3PM until DUSK.  Here's some information on this great event direct from Larry. Bucktoe Creek Preserve is located at 432 Sharp Road, Avondale PA.

 "The Delaware Bay is an incredibly important staging area for migrant shorebirds. Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlin, Red Knots, Sanderlings, Black-bellied Plovers, Semipalmated Plover, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Whimbrels, Willets, and more, all use the tidal flats to feed on Horseshoe Crab eggs, which provide an easy meal for these famished birds. As they arrive from as far away as South America, these birds are in desperate need of sustenance, having lost a large percentage of their body weight during their migration to the Bay. The Delaware Bay is their final stopover and last chance to gain the weight needed to complete their journey to arctic Canada. They need this easy meal! As they (hopefully) gain and reach their required take-off weight, nearly the entire population will depart for the arctic during the last week of May and the first few days of June.

We may witness nothing other than a wonderful sunset and have a nice time watching local birds and late migrants, but if we do this event at this season every year, we will likely eventually pick the right day and meet with some luck - potentially adding several species to the Bucktoe Creek Preserve bird list (as flyovers), not to mention your PA state list and Chester County lists. That has certainly happened the first 2 years of "The Watch." It boggles ones mind to know that many of these birds will depart the Delaware Bay and fly non-stop to arctic Canada! Wouldn't it be great to see them pass over as they wing their way north? Of course, as we scan the skies we may have a surprise other than a shorebird flock - this is prime time for southern vagrant Swallow-tailed Kite (next bird to fall at Bucktoe?), Mississippi Kite (seen both years), and Anhinga (seen one year, but in the fall)!

From research that I have done, the birds depart the Delaware Bay (most frequently) on a mid- to late-day high tide during late May or the first few days of June, often en mass, but certainly in large flocks, and generally fly north or northwest at some altitude. The migration route for many of these flocks will cross our region - nearly all flocks will go unnoticed. I myself have witnessed this migration, both along the Delaware Bay and over Chester County (before this organized watch was started). This is a truly amazing site to witness these large flocks crossing our region. We have seen large flocks of Black-bellied Plovers flying over southern Chester County and Coatesville, as well as Whimbrel over Lancaster County while we watched for Swallow-tailed Kite and Mississippi Kites (both also seen). You just never know what may fly over, do you??

We will have scopes set up to scan the skies. If you have a scope, bring yours. If you have no scope, binoculars will help scan the skies. The plan is to have a bank of scopes (facing southeast towards the Delaware Bay) for everyone to use should we spot a shorebird flock migrating towards us.

More When and What ?

Please plan on coming out. Bring a collapsible chair (or sit on one of our picnic tables), bring your scope, camera with long lens, dinner and something to drink (adult beverages, okay within reason) and help scan the skies"

Monday, May 20, 2013

Found Blooming

The saying is leaves of three let them be, but there are a few neat plants that do not give you a rash that also have leaves of three.  Most notably Trillium sp. (Trillium) and Arisaema triphyllum Jack in the Pulpit.  Both were noticed at one of TLC's properties this past week, the differences between the two plants are fairly subtle (if they aren't flowering).  The veins on the Trillium leaf run parallel to the mid-rib vein where the veins on the Jack in the Pulpits run perpendicular to the mid-rib vein.  (I'm using the words parallel and perpendicular loosely--a geometrist would tell you that neither or exactly correct, but you get the gist!)

Check out this beautiful specimen of Trillium cernuum or Nodding Trillium that was found on our hike.  Note this is a PA Threatened Plant so no further location will be disclosed.  Of course, I always recommend that you watch carefully while you hike for what may be out there, and please stay on the trails as simple trampling of such a plant can keep it from blooming.  

Come out Saturday, May 25 from 9am to 12pm to Bucktoe Creek Preserve with plant guru Janet Ebert to learn about native grasses, she is a walking field guide and is extremely knowledgeable about all plants found throughout our region!! Sign up for this Saturday's walk here. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Archeological Digs

Two students sifting through soil in search of artifacts. 
Adjacent to TLC's sister preserve, the Bucktoe Creek Preserve, lies a historic African-American Civil War cemetery, known as the Bucktoe Cemetery, and owned by the New Garden UAME Church. During the mid-1800's through the 1900's, the church and cemetery were located on the same site along Bucktoe Road in Avondale. Due to an unfortunate accident, the church was burned down and relocated to Linden Street in Kennett Square in 1904, where it remains today. Crystal Crampton and other members of the New Garden UAME Church have rallied together in conjunction with TLC and Heritage Guild Works to restore and further investigate the historic cemetery. Part of the investigation goals were to explore the original church foundation for artifacts or other clues of the past. Last week a group of about thirty students from the Technical College High School located in West Grove, traveled to the cemetery to assist us in an archaeological dig of the church foundation.

Unknown metal artifact found.

An ongoing list of unique artifacts were recorded and bagged. Artifacts included, nails, pieces of brick, charcoal, mortar, and glass bottles. Digs such as these take time and patience, but can eventually reveal helpings of historic information about the site. One or two more digs will be open to public throughout the summer before the students return again in the fall to see how the site has progressed. Contact if you may be interested in volunteering for an archaeological dig over the summer.

Group shot on day 1. Eugene Hough, of Heritage Guild Works on left. Students of TCHS center. Tom Mayo of New Garden UAME Church on right. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lepidoptera alerts...

This guy was hanging out on my screen door as I headed off to work this morning. I thought a photo was worth sharing with the crowd.  To my not so vast knowledge, I believe that this is a Epimecis hortaria or Tulip Tree Beauty.  This would make sense since my backyard has three very large: Liriodendron tulipifera or Tulip Poplars, which are one of the Tulip Tree Beauty caterpillar hosts.   The others include Paw Paw (Asimina triloba) and Sassafras albidum (Sassafras).

I spend lots of time talking about native flowers and shrubs that you can plant that are host plants for our native Lepidoptera, but I sometimes neglect our native trees which are also important caterpillar hosts.    Caterpillars are such cool creatures that I am learning to appreciate more and more.....

Speaking of appreciation do you have a native tree in your backyard that you say is HUGE but you'd love to know more about?? Join us this weekend with Stroud Water Research Center educator Vivian Williams for Five Ways to Measure a Tree. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

TLC wishes a Happy Mothers Day to all of the mothers out there--human or otherwise, and reminds you to support conservation as we celebrate Mother Earth 365 Days a Year!!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Not too late...

So this is a little off our normal blog topics, but tomorrow is The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County's 9K/5K Trail Race for Conservation.  If you are a trail runner, it's not too late to join in the fun.  Day of Registration will open at 7:30AM, and the race begins at 9:00AM.

Come out to the Stateline Woods Preserve at 814 Merrybell Lane, Kennett Square PA 19348 and experience some amazing trails through southern Chester County and northern DE.  All of the proceeds help to support the great work we are doing here at TLC.

If you need more information, check our website:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Migration Is in Full Swing!

All of the sudden the trees have leafed out, the spring ephemerals are starting to wane, and all of the spring warblers have arrived.   They are just in time for the Pennsylvania Annual Migration Bird Count on Saturday, May 11th. I'm guessing that our compilers are going to beat their records this year.  Check out this awesome photograph that was taken of five Glossy Ibis flying over Chester County today!! Glossy Ibis

Monday, May 6, 2013

Bucktoe SHorebird Watch

We are still a few weeks away from the annual Bucktoe Creek Shorebird Migration Watch.  This is an important time in the life of a shorebird as they migrate from their wintering grounds to arctic Canada.  They'll make one stop to replenish themselves along the way at the DE Bay and then they'll make the trip north for the summer.  Chester County happens to fall in line with migration, so this is a great chance to hang out and watch flocks of shorebirds as they fly through our skies.  It will be taking place May 18th through June 7th so you have plenty of time to go out and check out the skies. 

I found this cool shore bird a little off the beaten path already this year: The Black Necked Stilt. They don't spend their summers in Canada, but they are migrating north.  Keep your eyes open because once again, you never know what you may happen to see throughout the peak of migration.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Blooming Bluebells

It has taken me a few years, and some battling of Garlic Mustard, but my woodland garden is slowly starting to whip into shape. When we moved into our house, this very small area was overrun by invasives: Garlic Mustard, Norway Maple, Wineberry, and Bittersweet. I spent some time clearing out the invasives out of my little section of woods, and then I decided to start off slow by planting a handful of plants that spread well over time.  One of the plant species that I planted was Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells).  Mertensia is such a beautiful spring wildflower, and I've been disappointed with how it has not spread over the last two years.  However, this year, it has finally decided to take on a life of it's own, and I am already envisioning a bluebell carpet in my woodland patch in the spring of 2014 (stay tuned to see if it will actually happen). 

I know it isn't a huge patch, but I started with one plant, so just think of where I will be next year! I highly recommend this beautiful native for any woodland garden.  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Earth Celebrations

Here at TLC, we were so fortunate to have been asked to participate in several community Earth Day events throughout the end of April. We spread the word of land conservation to all members of the community. Did you attend any of these events with TLC?

Dansko: Take Your Child to Work Day

TLC's apiarist, Dan Borkoski, brought in a travel hive to demonstrate the importance and function of honeybees. Kids were able to try on the veils, observe the queen bee roam about the hive, and make candles from beeswax purchased ahead of time. If interested in seeing the TLC hives, join us at our New Leaf EcoCenter for Open Hive Days. You can Register here!

YMCA Healthy Kids Day

Thanks to the YMCA for having TLC out for a beautiful afternoon in downtown Kennett Square to meet local organizations making a difference in the lives of our youth. Rock climbing walls, moon bounce and dancing galore! 

YMCA Healthy Kids Day
TLC also held two programs over the weekend for community members to celebrate the spring weather! Kyle Loucks led a group through the wetlands of Bucktoe Creek Preserve in search of herps: salamanders, snakes, frogs and turtles. Eleven species were spotted throughout the program and included; northern green frog, two-lined salamander, dusky salamander, toad salamander, red back salamander, pickerel frog, painted turtle, bullfrog, wood frog tadpole, garter snake, and spring peepers. 

Dusky Salamander


The following day's program was a little less slimy: Wildflowers. Botanist, Janet Ebert, showcased the blooming beauties of Bucktoe Creek Preserve. Countless flowers and plants were discussed as we meandered through the woodlands and meadows including, spring beauty, wild geranium, nodding trillium, dead nettle, star of Bethlehem, sensitive fern, wild madder, and more! Dwarf ginseng was one of my favorites of the day (pictured right). In July it should begin producing a yellow cluster of berries, which I'm excited to check out. I read a little more information on it, and found that american indians used dwarf ginseng in teas to cure several aliments such as, headaches and hives. 

Janet Ebert and participants viewing a fern. 
Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius)

Following the wildflower walk, TLC held a program for the girl scouts to receive their wildflower badges. Eighteen girls interviewed Janet Ebert about a flower's structure, role in the ecosystem, and medicinal properties. TLC volunteers helped the girls create terrariums as a requirement for their craft.

Girl Scouts enjoying a "flower" snack. 

Rain Garden 2013

In April of 2012, we held a rain garden workshop at our office where with the help of Claudia West from North Creek Nurseries, and your very own Land Stewardship Coordinator we did a day long workshop.  The morning involved a small lecture on what exactly a rain garden is, what it does, and how they can be effective.  In the afternoon, the attendees helped us to install a rain garden outside of our office.   The rain garden has been installed for a little over a year now, so I thought it was time for a rain garden up date.  Check out the difference in the two photographs.  

At installation April 2012

Taken on May 1, 2013

Overall we had great survivability of the plants, they are staggered so that they grow and bloom at different times throughout the year.  At the moment from the pictures it looks like the bed is predominantly Senico aureus now known as: Packera aurea (Golden Groundsel) which is an earlier growing plant (the yellow flowers).  This also did quite well and has spread to the point where I may have to actually separate some of it next spring.  The other earliest bloomer Fleabane (Erigeron pulchellus) is the pinkish whitish flower in the middle of the rain garden and while it didn’t spread, has reappeared everywhere that it was planted last spring. The grasses are up and it looks as though the rush (Juncus effusus) did not do as well as the sedge (Carex amphibola) for whatever reason (they didn’t talk, so I’m not sure). 

I have seen some signs of all of the later bloomers that were planted: Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Blazing Star (Liatris spicata), and Mistflower (Eupatorium colestinum).  The far and away winner at the moment though is definitely the Packera aurea.  I am very pleased with how it held its green foliage over the winter, and how it is currently filling in the gaps throughout the garden.  The Erigeron sp. also retained foliage throughout the winter, so between those two plants and the grasses, we had some color all winter long. 

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