Now is the time to visit our natural areas. Part One

Trout Lilly

A few days ago one of my colleagues commented that he was getting excited that in a month or so he would be able to start hiking and photographing at some of his favorite local parks and refuges.  I asked him what was he waiting for? Now is a great time to get out and visit our natural areas. While there are many reasons why there’s no better time than now, my top four are:

  • There are some flowering trees and wildflowers that only bloom in early spring such as Virginia Bluebells and Trout Lilies. The breathtaking beauty of the masses of bluebells and the delicate splendor of the more rare Trout Lily flower  last for only a very short time. By the time that the trees have leafed in their canopy, these wildflowers will have completely disappeared. You don’t want to miss seeing them.
  • It is a great time for bird watching. There is more variety and more activity as migrating birds prepare for their return trip and local birds start the nesting process. In addition, it’s much easier to see the birds before the leaves fully open and provide greater cover. As somebody who is visually challenged when looking for birds that I can hear, but can’t see, this is a big advantage.
  • No  flies and no mosquitoes. Enough said!
  • Color. Everybody knows that fall is the time for dramatic colors as the leaves change, but have you noticed the much subtler colors of early spring? First the intense, but tiny red buds of the maples and then the light green of the newly opening leaves of the other deciduous trees. I think you will agree that a walk in the woods during early morning light is magical.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind to make the visit more enjoyable. First dress in layers. The day often starts out cold, but warms up rapidly by early afternoon. Second, wear waterproof boots as the ground is often wet in early spring. Finally, there may be no flies or mosquitoes, but it’s not too early for ticks. Dress to discourage them and check for the little pests when you leave the forest and fields.

In Part Two, I’ll share some of my favorite places to visit in the spring.

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