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Old Mar 20, 2011, 7:36 PM   #1
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Default Spring Song

Was out at Laurel Run Park on Saturday, checking out the early spring blooms. This is an incredibly rich and diverse little park, with cool damp floodplains & creeksides, as well as warm sunny ridges. Rich soil, much undisturbed forest, and plenty of moisture make for an amazing variety of life. And we found plenty in bloom. Here are some of a plant I've already posted, but the bloodroots were especially nice at Laurel Run... (any preference between these two very similar views?)
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Old Mar 20, 2011, 7:40 PM   #2
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We also noticed that Rue Anemone had started blooming down near the creek. These flowers are usually white and sometimes pink. Some folks call them "windflowers," because they shake in the slightest breeze. It was tough (for this impatient photographer) to wait for a pause between breezes. Then we spotted some that were an unusual pink/white combination, and had to wait for a windless moment for those too!
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Old Mar 20, 2011, 7:42 PM   #3
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Trout Lilies have leaves that are reminiscent of trout, and bloom for a short time in the early spring. We noticed some that looked close to bloom when we started down the trail...
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Old Mar 20, 2011, 7:45 PM   #4
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Later in the day, the warm sunshine had encouraged several to come into full bloom!
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Old Mar 20, 2011, 7:47 PM   #5
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We also saw plenty of Toothworts in bloom. "Wort" is the old english name for "plant," particularly for a useful plant. Since Toothwort roots look a bit like teeth, folks thought they might be useful for toothache. They are certainly useful for winter-weary eyes!
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Old Mar 20, 2011, 7:49 PM   #6
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Creeks are still running high with all the spring rains. We noticed some interesting reflections of Rhododendron leaves near the top of Kiner Creek Falls. Which of these views do you prefer?
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Old Mar 20, 2011, 7:50 PM   #7
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We also noticed that partly-eaten Chinqapin Oak acorns are turning red in the sun! Not sure what chemistry is behind the change, but interesting to see...
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Old Mar 20, 2011, 7:53 PM   #8
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Speaking of seeds, Rattlesnake Orchids are still holding onto last year's seed pods. We expect their blooms sometime in late spring...

There are plenty of Rattlesnake Orchids at Laurel Run - the name comes from the patterns on the leaves that look a bit like snake skin. Like the toothwort, some believed that this resemblance meant they were good for treating snakebite.
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Old Mar 20, 2011, 7:57 PM   #9
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But you might be wondering why I called this thread "Spring Song." As we were packing up to leave, we heard some American Toads singing at one of the many small ponds at Laurel Run Park. Went to check it out, and found literally 100's of toads in the pond. Only the males make the trilling song, and you can guess what they are singing about!
Like most frogs and toads, they expand their throat pouch to increase the volume, so they can call to the females from a greater distance...
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Old Mar 20, 2011, 7:59 PM   #10
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Their songs were quite effective - we saw many pairs mating, and many groups of males all after the same female! (Look at the "toad pile" in the 2nd picture!!)
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