Stillwell Nature Trail officially opens
by Gwen Balogh,
Pocahontas Nature Club
The Pocahontas Nature Club hosted a bird walk on Saturday, September 29, along the newly-created Stillwell Nature Trail. This official opening of the trail was held in conjunction with the Autumn Harvest Festival, and was led by West Virginia Department of Natural Resource State Ornithologist Rich Bailey.
The river fog had already burned off to reveal a clear and colorful early fall morning.
The group started off at the trailhead, near the gazebo in Stillwell Park, at 8:30 a.m. The walk had barely begun when we were treated to a view of a majestic Bald Eagle flying below the tree line along the river. Almost immediately afterward, two Ospreys followed the same route!
The trail was very nicely mowed, so even though there was heavy dew, nobody complained about soggy shoes.
Last summer’s derecho took down an enormous Northern Red Oak growing along the water’s edge, where an opening had been created for trail walkers to get a clear view of the river. The uprooted tree is mostly in the water but it’s not going anywhere. The dead leaves are still attached, so it now blocks the view. But after the leaves are gone it will become a favorite perch for numerous hunting birds, and afford good viewing for birders, too! It will remain as testament to the fury of the June 29, 2012 storm.
By the end of the walk, we had tallied 34 bird species (in less than two hours) most of which were seen and/or heard in the wooded, brushy understory next to the trail.
Here is the Saturday morning bird walk complete list:
Canada Goose, Belted Kingfisher, Red-Tailed Hawk, Bald Eagle, Osprey, Turkey Vulture, Pileated Woodpecker, Flicker, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Phoebe, Crow, Raven, Blue Jay, Titmouse, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Red-Breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Golden-Crowned Kinglet, Brown Thrasher, Catbird, White-Eyed Vireo, Black and White Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Redstart, Yellowthroat, Starling, Scarlet Tanager, Cardinal, Goldfinch, Indigo Bunting, Towhee, Song Sparrow and Swamp Sparrow.
The creation of this lovely, mile-long nature trail was a team effort and was made possible by Lauren Bennett with Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation; Kevin Hickman, groundskeeper; the PCCVB; members of the nature club; and Randy Bodkins, who originally conceived the idea of a nature trail in Stillwell Park, and first shared his vision with members of the Pocahontas Nature Club.