February 27th. (Continued from…) We usually make two to three trips to the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge each year. Originally we went to look for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and, although we’ve never managed to sight one yet, the refuge is scenic and home to a number of wildflowers which reward us for the effort of making the trips.
We forded Allisons Creek on Field Pasture Road. On the north side of the ford and immediately to the right is a large ledge above the creek. It is here that we find a number of wildflowers. Dimpled Troutlilies (Erythronium umbilicatum) grow near the trees by the road and along the slope behind the ledge. We didn’t see any flowers as we approached the area but after wandering around the area, we found…
some leaves. And then,
a bud, in this case not far from blooming. Finally, we were rewarded with…
It has opened only recently; the anthers haven’t started to release pollen. We finally found two flowers.
We wandered about for a little while in search of other treasures. There was no sign of Little Sweet Betsy (Trillium cuneatum) leaves yet. We did find…
a nice shield lichen, probably a Parmotrema sp., and a…
Witch’s Butter (Tremella mesenterica).
There were signs of wildflowers from last year; Elephant’s Foot (Elephantopus sp.).
There were leaves of new life - a violet (Viola sp.), and..
another plant, possibly False Garlic (Nothoscordum bivalve) which is an early bloomer in this area.
After we left this area, we continued along Field Pasture Road. There are a couple of colonies of Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers (Leuconotopicus borealis) along this road including some new nests.
Trees with nests are marked with a white ring around the trunk.
Many of the nests are man-made.
At the intersection of Field Pasture, Sugar Hill, and Bridge-Out roads, we turned west and drove down to the ford over Stalking Head Creek. We decided not to ford the creek which has very steep, sandy approaches.
We drove back to Field Pasture Road past some old house ruins. I’ve not been able to find any record of what the building was; a private residence or, perhaps, a ‘hotel’ for travelers along this road. All that remains is the chimney colonized by Resurrection Fern and the stone foundations of an out-building.
We continued north on Field Pasture Road and west on Anderson Bottoms Road where pools filled with recent rains were breeding pools in which Southeastern (Upland) Chorus (Pseudacris feriarum) frogs were calling.
We drove south on Natural Rock Crossing Road to the ford on Stalking Head Creek and decided, again, not to attempt a crossing on this hard-to-approach crossing. A note that there's not much traffic on these roads and it's best to be cautious; help won't be coming any time soon.
We drove back north to North and Pond 7A roads, past Pond 7A, and back to Starr Road before driving back to Monticello.
It’s always hard to gauge when the Dimpled Troutlilies will be blooming at the Piedmont NWR but we were lucky enough to be rewarded with a couple of flowers.