Late Winter + Sunny Day =

Hiking Fun at Fernbrook Natural Area

It was early March and we were itching to get out of the house to get our feet moving on a trail after being sick and homebound for most of February. Fernbrook Natural Area is a great little preserve owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy. We plan to make it a regular hiking spot.

Orchids in winter:

Puttyroot winter leaf showing distinctive parallel veins. I never can seem to catch these in flower during the growing season!
The intricate veining pattern of the downy rattlesnake-plantain leaf is more eye-catching than its small white summer flowers.
The solitary winter leaf of the cranefly orchid is purple on the reverse. Its flowers are always a delightful summer find that can be easily overlooked.

Early flowers opening on a warm slope:

The first spring beauty of 2017 just beginning to peek through the leaf litter unfurling itself before the sun.

Interesting textures:

Knobby beech that caught our eye. Look to the left of the tree in the lower photo to see raised projections in profile.

Taking a moment of quiet:

The loop trail overlooks the North Fork of the Rivanna River.

More winter foliage:

Overwintering leaves of Hexastylis growing in a rock outcrop along the Rivanna River. Perhaps this is H. minor or little heartleaf, but that is a guess based solely on habitat. Perhaps we will have to check back in the spring for new leaves and little brown jugs for more clues. I have a lot of new plants to learn here in Virginia.
Striped wintergreen popping up everywhere!

Woodpeckers flourish:

We love snags and so do the woodpeckers.
Not too far from the trailhead is this directional sign. Stop here and look all around for the giant oak snags and the tons of woodpeckers. This area is like a Wegman’s for woodpeckers!

Happy Spring from Pete and Beth!