The Keepers of The Springs

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. eastern side of trail

Buckthorn still lined the riverbank near the old hotel site.near old hotel

Sue getting ready for a polar bear plunge.

Sue cattails

John near the Hatching House Springs.


phragmites A

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.

2 trout close-up A

5 trout

John at the Scuppernong Spring.

John at spring wateracress at spring

The south end of the sand prairie.

burning buckthorn A

You can see the buckthorn thicket on the far side of the Indian Springs outflow channel.Indian springs A

Lindsay Knudsvig, John Mesching and I burned 185 brush piles down on the flat below the Indian Campground.

Lindsay, Paul & John Paul, Lindsay, John Paul burning piles

It was a mild winter.

wall ruins John & wall



Smoke drifts from brush pile fires on the south end of the loop trail.smoke from piles burning pile Paul & John

The flats below the Indian Campground.  Heh, where’s the snow?burning by bridge ash remains

A nuthatch near the marl factory kilns.

nuthatch by kiln ruins


Life returns to The Springs.

Skunk cabbage.

skunk cabbage bird tracks ice patterns

Pussy Willows.

pussy willows



large catkins A

redwing blackbird


hepatica hepatica C hepatica D


blood root A


Sweet springtime at The Springs.



Marsh Marigolds.

.Marsh Marigolds


.Anemones B

Garter Snake.

garter snake

Brown butterfly?

brown butterfly

Birds-foot Violet.

.bird-foot violet

Wood Betony.

wood betony A

Red Admiral Butterfly.

red admiral butterfly 2


first Jacks A

Hoary Puccoon.

Hoary Puccoon B

Butterfly and Pussytoes.

butterfly & pussy toes

Northern Water Snake.

northern water snake 04:14:12 Northern water snake 04:14:12 close-up  snake head




dewberry A

American Lady.

American Lady 04:17:12

Juvenal’s Duskywing.

Juvenal's Duskywing 04:17:12

Eastern Tailed-blue Butterfly.

enhanced Eastern Tailed-Blue 04:17:12

White Sarsaparilla.

wild sarsaparillla 04:17:12

toad trilling 04:17:12

Cow:tuft Vetch.

cow:tuft vetch 04:24:12 A Sue Scuppernong 04:24:12


Robin Scuppernong 04:24:12 A

fleabane 04:30 wood betony, wild geranium, horsetail. 04:30JPG

Kittentail and Horsetail

kittentail & horsetail A

Swamp Saxifrage

swamp saxifrage 04:30

Golden Alexander

golden alexander 04:30

Solitary Sandpiper

solitary sandpiper 04:30


goldfinch 04:30


sparrow 04:30


Mystery Flower

Scuppernong mystery 05:03

Blue-eyed Grass.

blue-eyed grass 05:03


toadflax 05:03

Brown snake.

little brown snake C

Sulfur Butterfly

sulfur 05:03

Kitten Tails

kitten tails

Watercress was choking the river.

with watercress A 05:03 downstream with wataercress 05:03

Areas where we pulled the watercress.

towards spring without watercress 05:03 clear at spring 05:03watercress removal 05:19 A


goldfinch 05:03



Notice the thick buckthorn on the north/right side of the river.

Scuppernong east to west A 05:07

White pea:pale vetchling

white pea:pale vetchling 05:07

Small-flowered crowfoot

small-flowered crowfoot 05:07

Monarch butterfly



Scuppernong lupine 05:07

lupine 05:19

Bellwort and starry false solomon’s seal

bellwort & starry false solomon's seal 05:07

Yellow Umbel

yellow umbel

Shooting stars

shooting stars B

shooting stars Use gray dogwood?  viburnum?

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly

black giant swallowtail A

Yellow woodsorrel

yellow wood sorel 05:11

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

tiger swallowtail 05:11

Carrion Flower

carrion flower

Wild Columbine

Columbine 05:19

Turtle tracks

turtle tracks 05:19

Hoary Puccoon

Hoary Puccoon 05:19


Thimbleweed 05:19 A

Wild Sarsaparilla

wild sarsaparilla 05:19 A


blackberries 05:19 yellow mystery 05:26 marsh marigo.d 05:26 A  white mystery 05:26 A

Solomon’s seal

solomon's seal 05:26

Blandings Turtle

turtle 05:26

False Solomon’s Seal

false solomon's seal 05:26

Sand Hill Cranes

Sandhill 05:26 AA sandhill 05:26 AAA sandhill 05:26

Blue Flag Iris

blue flag iris 05:28

Brush piles near signpost #1

brush piles 05:28

Ripe Dewberry

dewberry - ripe 05:30

Female Robin

redwing femaile 05:30 A

White Avens

white avens 05:30

yellow mallow? 05:30

Black-eyed Susan

black-eyed Susan 05:30


spiderwort 05:30

spiderwort 05:30 A

spiderwort & hoary puccoon 05:30 white butterfly 05:30

Prairie Rose

prairie rose 05:30


nine bark 05:30 A

Tall Meadow Rue

tall rue 05:30

Yellow Warbler

yellow warbler 05:30 A


Some of Sue’s best work.

sandhill & chick little black butterfly 06:02 C

Brown and white dragonfly

brown & white dragonfly 06:02 A

Yellow Avens

yellow avens 06:02 B


plantain 06:02

Cloudywing Butterfly

cloudywing butterfly 06:02


goldfinch 06:02 white dragonfly 06:02

Viceroy Butterfly

viceroy butterfly 06:04 A insect 06:04 B


hummingbird 06:04


bluebird 06:04


kingbirds -two 06:04


sparrow 06:04 chipmunk 06:04

Green Frog

green frog 06:15 A

New Jersey Tea

new jersey tea 06:15 A

Blandings Turtle

blandings turtle  06:12


elderberry 06:15


yarrow 06:15

Baltimore Checkerspot

baltimore checkerspot 06:15

Scarlet Tanager

scarlet tanager 06:24 B

Cedar Waxwing


Spring Keeper

cooling feet 06:24

Goldfinch at the hotel spring

goldfinch 06:24

Angelwing Butterfly

anglewing butterfly 06:24

Culvers Root

Culver's root 06:24

mowed boardwalk 06:24 A

Michigan Lily

michigan lily 06:24 B michigan lily 06:24 E

Sue contemplates the lilies of the field

michigan lily & Sue 06:26

Hognose Snake

hognose snake 06:24

Ninebark fruit

nine bark fruit 06:24

New England Aster

new england asters 06:24

Mystery Bird

mystery bird 06:26


sparrow 06:26

Scarlet Tanager

scarlet tanager A 06:26 scarlet tanager 06:26 B


lead plant 06:26

Downy Woodpecker

downey woodpecker 06:26


michigan lily 07:01


catbird 07:01

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.female goldfinch wading 07:01 goldfinch 07:01 splish splash 07:01 cedar waxwing 07:01


lead plant 07:01 michigan lily 2 07:01


killdeer 07:01 B toad 07:01

Northern Water Snake.

water snake hunting from log 07:01

Common Agrimony

common agrimony 07:02 A

Green Frog

green frog 07:02

The Buckthorn Man working in the thicket across from the Indian SpringPaul 07:02

Lindsay Knudsvig in the thick-of-it

Lindsay 07:02

Prairie Crayfish burrow

prairie crayfish burrow 07:02 A

Mourning Doves

mourning doves A 07:07

Hognose Snake

hognose snake 07:09


sumac 07:31


jewellweed 07:14 A

Woodland Sunflower

woodland sunflower 07:14 A

Lindsay and I cut the catails and phragmites in the entire river valley.observation deck 07:14 A little bridge area 07:14 B

Mountain Mint

mountain mint A  indian spring prairie 07:14 A

Views of the prairie just west of the buckthorn thicket that Lindsay and I were cutting shown above.

John in prairie 07:14

Note the buckthorn thicket on the north side of the prairie

prairie northeast view A

Looking south

prairie southeast view 07:14

Prairie Swamp Milkweed

prairie swamp milkweed 07:14

Wild Bergamont

prairie bergamot 07:14

Angelwing Butterfly

anglewing butterfly 07:15 A


liatris 07:15

Evening Primrose

evening primrose 07:31

Trumpet Yellow Flower

trumpet yellow flower 07:31

Joe-pye Weed

joe pyeweed 07:31 B

Leopard Frog

leopard frog 07:31


elderberries 07:31 A

Flowering Spurge

flowering spurge 07:31 A

View west from the Indian Campground

Indian springs hill 07:31

White Wood Aster

white wood aster 07:31 B mushroom A 07:31

west view from bridge 07:31 A east view from bridge 07:31 A

Sawtooth Sunflower and Brown-eyed Susan

sawtooth sunflower 07:31 B browneyed susans 07:31 A

Blue Vervain

blue vervain 07:31 C

White Vervain

white vervain 07:31 A


Light Purple Aster

light purple aster 08:28:12

Shelf-type Mushroom

shelf-type mushroom 08:28:12


lettuce family 08:28:12 A

Goldenrod and bug

goldenrod & bug 08:28:12


sandpiper? 08:28:12 A


elderberries 08:28:12

White Asters

white asters 08:28:12


goldenrod? 08:28:12

Asters and Goldenrod

asters & goldenrod 08:28:12


mint? 08:28:12 A


pokeweed 08:28:12 B

Mystery stalk (Bush Clover?)

mystery stalk 08:28:12

Wood Asters (Forked Aster?)

wood asters? 08:28:12

Tall Sunflowers

tall sunflowers 08:28:12

Goldenrod along the marl pit trail

goldenrod & brown-eyed susans 08:28:12

Goldenrod and Bee

goldenrod & bee 08:28:12

Fringed Gentians along the marl pit trail

fringed gentians 08:28:12 A fringed gentians 08:28:12 fringed gentians & goldenrod 08:28:12A fringed gentians & goldenrod 08:28:12fringed gentians & cinqfoil 08:28:10

The view towards the sand prairie from the marl pit trail (note the buckthorn thicket)


marl pit & indian springs trail 08:28:12

The marl pit trail is a great place to see flowers!marl pit & goldenrod 08:28:12  new england aster 08:28:12 leopard frog 08:28:12

marl pit & old bridge 08:28:12 B

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?

watersnake & grass pickerel 09:01 watersnake & grass pickerel 2 09:01 watersnake & grass pickerel 1 09:01

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!