John and Sue Hrobar have been coming to The Springs for a long time. They have a feel, and a feeling, for this “world class site”. They watch closely as nature tries to heal the anthropogenic wounds inflicted at the headwaters of the Scuppernong River and amateur naturalists, like The Buckthorn Man, have their way. It wasn’t long after I returned to work at The Springs in May of 2011, (I had worked there for approximately 6 months back in 2004, cutting buckthorn on the hillside between the river and highway 67) that I first met John and Sue on one of their frequent visits.
Sue takes most of the pictures and John does most of the talking and, together, they began to teach me about the flora and fauna — the biota — of The Springs.
John and Sue with Trail Boss, Don Dane.
I started this blog back in June 2012 and asked Sue if I could post some of her pictures. Well, sorry it took me so long Sue… here is a sampling of what you gave me over two years ago: The Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail, 2012, through the eyes of The Keepers of The Springs (take your time browsing this collection, and don’t forget you can click any picture to expand it to full size.)
The bend in the trail along the northeast perimeter of the loop.
Buckthorn still lined the riverbank near the old hotel site.
Sue getting ready for a polar bear plunge.
John near the Hatching House Springs.
Unfortunately, we rarely see trout like this at the Emerald Spring since Lindsay and I pulled out the watercress and disturbed their habitats in the spring of 2012. The restoration of the headwaters of the Scuppernong River to it’s pre-settlement condition is a work in progress.
John at the Scuppernong Spring.
The south end of the sand prairie.
You can see the buckthorn thicket on the far side of the Indian Springs outflow channel.
Lindsay Knudsvig, John Mesching and I burned 185 brush piles down on the flat below the Indian Campground.
It was a mild winter.
Smoke drifts from brush pile fires on the south end of the loop trail.
The flats below the Indian Campground. Heh, where’s the snow?
A nuthatch near the marl factory kilns.
Life returns to The Springs.
Sweet springtime at The Springs.
Butterfly and Pussytoes.
Eastern Tailed-blue Butterfly.
Kittentail and Horsetail
Watercress was choking the river.
Areas where we pulled the watercress.
Notice the thick buckthorn on the north/right side of the river.
White pea:pale vetchling
Bellwort and starry false solomon’s seal
Sand Hill Cranes
Brush piles near signpost #1
Some of Sue’s best work.
Brown and white dragonfly
Goldfinch at the hotel spring
Sue contemplates the lilies of the field
John and Sue do a lot of bird watching at the Hotel Spring. The big willow is still there thanks to John pleading with me not to cut it down.
Northern Water Snake.
The Buckthorn Man working in the thicket across from the Indian Spring
Lindsay Knudsvig in the thick-of-it
Prairie Crayfish burrow
Lindsay and I cut the catails and phragmites in the entire river valley.
Views of the prairie just west of the buckthorn thicket that Lindsay and I were cutting shown above.
Note the buckthorn thicket on the north side of the prairie
Prairie Swamp Milkweed
View west from the Indian Campground
Sawtooth Sunflower and Brown-eyed Susan
Light Purple Aster
Goldenrod and bug
Asters and Goldenrod
Mystery stalk (Bush Clover?)
Wood Asters (Forked Aster?)
Goldenrod along the marl pit trail
Goldenrod and Bee
Fringed Gentians along the marl pit trail
The view towards the sand prairie from the marl pit trail (note the buckthorn thicket)
The marl pit trail is a great place to see flowers!
That’s it for the year 2012 in review, courtesy of Sue and John Hrobar. Here are a couple of bonus pics that Sue took in September, 2013, of a watersnake capturing a grass pickerel. I wonder what happened next?
I would love to share your photos of The Springs here, so contact me if you have some good ones.
See you at The Springs!