spillway from the lake is your landmark for leaving the perimeter and dropping
downward across a pasture to the boardwalk entrance.
old upland forest stand of pines should be your guide, as the entrance is to the
north of this. The trailhead is marked with a green painted wooden sign (read
As you cross the pasture,
keep looking and listening, because this is a favorite area for bluebirds, as
well as more killdeer nests. The resident great blue heron has even been spotted
here perched on a tree limb near the entrance to the boardwalk. |
the point where the upland forest meets the stream, you will see a stand of bamboo
and a picnic table. Look to the left to find the boardwalk. To see where you are
on the swampmap below, click "continue".
you step onto the boardwalk, the closeness of the industrial park to the right
and the college campus to the left seems to fade away. You are enveloped in relaxing
shades of green and relaxing sounds of insects, birds, frogs, and running water.
You are one with the ecosystem that cleans and filters water and provides oxygen
for the freshness of the air we depend on. There
are signs of careless humans--an empty soft drink bottle is lodged across the
stream out of reach.
the first few feet, notice the dense vegetation on the left. Here, goldfinches
play in the spring, and hummingbirds abound in late summer and fall. Rabbits can
be seen just about anytime. Sniff the elusive odor of delicate blossoms.
1 is shown in the swampmap.
the right of the trailhead is the first of several easily visible beaver dams.
The beaver activity is constant, and the exact status and position of the series
of dams along this stream varies (continues, right).
flow is constantly re-routed--in part due to the beaver engineering, and in part
due to changes in the water sources.
There are two major sources of water. One is the Prentice Branch stream, supposedly
fed by springs from Booze Mountain. This is the stream that you see modified by
the beaver dams to the right of the boardwalk. The other is the spillover from
drought conditions, the lake source may diminish, but the stream source seems
relatively constant. Therefore, these wetlands are always wet! However the direction
of the current changes regularly. Take note of the direction the reeds are bent.
At station 1 facing the stream, look to the right upstream to see two stream branches
converge. The terraced look is provided by a series of low beaver dams. These
may shift in depth and position from visit to visit.
Much of the time dense and verdant parrot feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) is
evident at the water's surface. This plant is not necessarily natural to the area---it
is typically introduced from upstream. However, it is well established and certainly
contributes to the ecosystem. In the winter landscape, its brilliant green contrasts
sharply with the grays and browns of the leafless willow limbs and dried cattail
stalks (continues, right).
many insects buzzing and/or flitting about. Here a drifting butterfly, there a
darting dragonfly. Across the stream, bark stripped off of a small pine tree.
Someone has munched this tree to the point of endangering its life. A harmless
water snake with shades of red-brown splotches swims rapidly downstream, and another
feeds among the parrot feather.
the fall, the beautiful cardinal flower makes its appearance in several spots
the opposite side of the walkway, dense underbrush and willow trees provide perfect
habitat for hummingbirds. There are dead trees among the living. This is the "scrub-shrub"
late summer and fall, buttonbush blossoms attract various butterfly species. Their
bright orange color makes Viceroy and Gulf Fritillary easily seen.
late fall the brilliant purple blossoms of tall ironweed may tower above your
head on either side of the boardwalk. Bumblebees visit the various seasonal blossoms;
large rabbits crunch through the underbrush as they make their getaway from the
creature on the boardwalk--you!
stretch of the boardwalk, which is primarily a stream ecosystem, you will see
a wide variety of wildlife. Many wetland wildflowers bloom in the fall, and in
this area you may see monkey-flower, cardinal flowers, spotted forget-me-nots
continue the tour, click "top", then "station 2" on
the TOUR menu to the right.