The day was partly cloudy, warming to 84 degrees, after the previous evening was blanketed with rain and high winds. Twenty-seven humans and two dogs attended.
There was an accident on Route 79 Northbound which added 20 minutes to the commute time for at least half of the participants, including the leader! Hike didn’t start until 10:15. Five boxes of nature books donated by Susan Varley were displayed and people were asked to take as many as they wanted. Read the list of what we saw here:
Liz announced that there is an ongoing project at the Arboretum at North Park, every Thursday morning to remove invasives and tag natives. Everyone is invited to attend.
The lower trail was flooded, both by the rain and a beaver dam. We had to turn around and double back.
After lunch, a few of us stop at the Butterfly Trail at Moraine to add a few more sightings to our list.
10:00 AM Jennings Prairie, Leaders: Dianne and Bob Machesney
Visit the unique ecosystem at Jennings Prairie.
This is the perfect time to explore the relict prairie. The hot weather brings the stunning Blazing Star and some of the other dazzling summer flowers to peak performance. The goldenrods of fall will begin to show. Don’t miss the spectacular butterflies that grace the prairie with their breathtaking beauty. Flycatchers, vireos, tanagers, Common Yellowthroats and Cedar Waxwings sometimes make an appearance. We may come across a Red Eft, the larval form of a Red-spotted Newt.
Outings are free and open to the public. Bring your friends. Wear a hat and sunscreen. Bring binoculars, field guides, water and a lunch.
After lunch at the gazebo, we will display Sue Varley’s books which she has donated to Wissahickon. We will pull tickets to take turns taking a book until they are all gone.
Directions From Pittsburgh: take I-79 North to Exit 99, New Castle/ Butler. Drive east on Route 422 roughly 5.8 miles to the Prospect Exit. Turn left (north) onto Route 528.
Continue on Route 528 for about 7 miles. Meet in the Jennings Prairie Parking Lot on the left (west) side of the road.
With much sadness, Wissahickon Nature Club announces the passing of long- time member and Program Coordinator, Sue Varley, who died of heart failure on Friday, June 2nd.
There will not be a viewing because Sue made pre-arrangements with Pitt to donate her body to science.
Her sister, Caroline, said that they may not get to have her remains to bury for three to twelve months. At that time there will be a private service at Queen of Heaven Cemetery.
Sue’s faithful companion, Icy Blue, is being adopted by her niece Sarah.
In her will, Sue left all her nature books to the club. Since we no longer have a physical location, I suggested we give them to our members at the Jennings Hike on July 21st, with any leftovers going to Latodomi Nature Center in North Park. Caroline agreed that was a good idea.
You may leave your condolences to Sue’s family on her Facebook page.
Sue was good friends with Chuck Tague, who she meet while volunteering at the National Aviary. I hope they and Esther Allen are hiking the trails together in heaven. May they all rest in peace.
Directions: Take I-79 north to Exit 116 to head east on I‑80. Travel I-80 east to Exit 29 Barkeyville/PA 8. Travel PA 8 north about 16 miles to Franklin. In Franklin, turn left onto 13th Street to pick up US322 West and PA 417. Travel PA 417 north 12 miles. Turn left onto PA 8 North in Cherrytree and continue about 6 1/2 miles to Titusville.
At the traffic light just before the Oil Creek bridge, turn right onto Bloss St toward Drake Well Museum. Go a mile or so to the Jersey Bridge Parking Area on the right, before the other bridge over Oil Creek. Meet at the parking lot.
GPS coordinates: 41.6159, -79.6582
Old railroad grades are noted for a diversity of wildflowers, and the Oil Creek Bike Trail is exceptionally diverse. Afterwards, Robert has invited us to visit the native plant gardens and nursery at his McMullen House B&B.
Directions: From Pittsburgh, take the PA Turnpike to Exit 91 – Donegal. Turn left onto PA 31 East and travel 2.1 miles. Turn right at a traffic light onto PA 711/ PA 381 South and continue 10 miles to a T in Normalville. Turn left onto PA 381 and continue 11 miles to Ohiopyle. Drive through the town and make a right onto SR 2019/Kentuck Road. Travel less than a half mile and turn right into the parking lot for Cucumber Falls.
Directions: Take the PA Turnpike into Ohio and continue to Exit 218 Jackson Interchange for I-76W. Travel I-76 west for 21 miles to Exit 38 (OH‑5/OH‑44). Turn right onto OH-44 for 1/2 mile then keep left to continue on S Prospect St for 1/2 mile. Turn left onto Sandy Lake Rd. Travel 1.1 mile to the Nature Preserve’s parking area on the left. Meet in the parking lot.
GPS coordinates: 41.1235, -81.2631
We will explore the blooming leatherleaf and budding tamaracks at this “kettle hole” bog with a cold deepwater lake at its center. After we explore Triangle, we will head 10 miles north to explore fen, bog, woodland and beaver ponds of Herrick Fen Nature Preserve. The sites can be enjoyed from the boardwalk and trails, so there is no need to wear waterproof knee boots. No pets are allowed in these state natural areas.
Little Sewickley Creek outside of Herminie, Westmoreland County This is a favorite trip for early spring ephemerals and Snow Trillium. The walk is along a muddy old railroad grade with some minor obstacles. Directions: We will meet at a large community parking lot and then carpool about 1/2 mile downhill to the walking trail.
GPS coordinates of the parking lot = (40.26126, -79.72123). This is across from the Dairy Queen (1493 Herminie West Newton Rd) and the local convenience store/gas station. If you are late, you can join us at the trailhead (40.26050, -79.72700), but parking may be tricky.
GPS coordinates: 40.26126, -79.72123.
If you need written directions to the site, please contact Loree at email@example.com or 724-518-6022.
Directions: From Pittsburgh, travel PA 51 south to its junction with PA 201 (just after Bills and Willowbrook Plaza). Continuing on PA 51, travel 2 additional miles to the traffic light for Concord Ln (Honda and Ford car dealership on right) and turn left. Traveling on Concord Ln, turn left onto Municipal Dr. Continue about 0.6 mile past Timm’s Lane, and turn left into the main entrance to Cedar Creek Park. Follow this road downhill, cross the bike trail, and turn left to continue through a series of parking lots until you reach the farthest parking lot, near the Gorge Trail.
Monroe Trailhead, Butler Freeport Trail, Butler County
Directions: From Pittsburgh: take PA-28 North to Exit 17 (PA-356/Butler/Freeport). At end of ramp, turn right to travel PA-356 for a little less than a mile. At the Sheetz, turn right onto Monroe Road and travel about 0.8 mile to the parking for the Buffalo Creek Nature Center on the left.
GPS coordinates: 40.7076, -79.7131
This trip could be canceled due to unsafe driving conditions with ice and snow (BUT THE FORECAST LOOKS PRETTY GOOD!); to learn if the trip is canceled when weather conditions are uncertain, please call or text Loree at 724-518-6022 the day of the hike.
Mourning Dove 1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird 2 Turkey Vulture 1 Red-shouldered Hawk 1 Eastern Wood-Pewee 4 Acadian Flycatcher 2 Yellow-throated Vireo 1 Red-eyed Vireo 2 Blue Jay 3 Tufted Titmouse 1 Purple Martin 1 Female flying over the prairie. Tree Swallow 2 White-breasted Nuthatch 1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1 House Wren 2 Gray Catbird 8 Eastern Bluebird 2 Wood Thrush 4 American Robin 4 Cedar Waxwing 2 American Goldfinch 9 Field Sparrow 2 One sitting high in a tree and singing. Song Sparrow 7 Swamp Sparrow 3 Eastern Towhee 3 Common Grackle 1 Common Yellowthroat 5 Hooded Warbler 1 Yellow Warbler 2 Scarlet Tanager 1 Indigo Bunting 3
Photos submitted by Monica Miller.
Leader: Dick Nugent
July 29, 2022 10:00 AM
Outings are free and open to the public. Bring your friends. Trails are wheelchair accessible. Wear a hat and sunscreen. Bring binoculars, field guides, water and a lunch. After lunch, those who are interested can follow us to the Moraine Butterfly Trail to add to our list of flowering species.
Directions From Pittsburgh: take I-79 North to Exit 99, New Castle/ Butler. Drive east on Route 422 roughly 5.8 miles to the Prospect Exit. Turn left (north) onto Route 528. Continue on Route 528 for about 7 miles. Meet in the Jennings Prairie Parking Lot on the left (west) side of the road. (Not the Environmental Center).