Archive for the ‘Davis wildlife refuge’ Category

West Virginia Spring: A Sea of Serviceberry

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Spring comes slowly in the northern mountains of West Virginia. Near Davis and Thomas, in Tucker County, we endure a lengthy and dreary mud season when everywhere else is in gorgeous bloom. But by late April, and early May, we are rewarded by a remarkable show of Serviceberry trees. Not just a few, either, but a mass of trees whose delicate blossoms dominate the landscape for weeks.
The show is especially lovely between Davis and Canaan Valley, along Route 32, but in truth it’s beautiful nearly everywhere. It’s a subtle show, though,

Serviceberry trees dominate the landscape in Tucker Co, WV

Serviceberry trees dominate the landscape in Tucker Co, WV

Delicate and subtle Serviceberry blossoms

Delicate and subtle Serviceberry blossoms

one that isn’t often (or easily) photographed.
In the mountains we call the Serviceberry “Sarvis” and locals say the name came from the use of these, the first flowers of spring, at church services held by settlers for early circuit-riding preachers. Whether that’s true or not I can’t say. But it’s a good story and one we like to repeat.
The Serviceberry is a valuable tree for wildlife, producing small sweet berries mid summer. Birds, deer, and bear love them, and a small handful will give you a lift when hiking in Dolly Sods.
Still, it’s in spring, when the blossoms come, that this unassuming little tree is truly unforgettable.

Celebrating Spring on the Refuge

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010
Coiled strands of frog eggs hatching on a refuge wetland pond

 Early spring on the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge reminds us that the refuge is largely a wetland…what they used to call a swamp. When folks in the lower elevations celebrate redbuds and dogwoods, here in Davis, WV, on the edge of the refuge, we delight in skunk cabbage, and the sounds and sites of many mating frogs.  Any puddle on the refuge teems with frog eggs now, and then tadpoles, and then the ground is alive with them. Tiny at first, they head into the woods to offer succulant morsels to their many predators: birds, fish, turtles, snakes…just about everyone finds them appetizing.

Early spring is also time for the annual Woodcock Roundup, where birdlovers come together to identify and count this unusual bird whose mating dance is one of our area’s earliest harbingers of spring. This year the event takes place on Saturday, April 17th at 6:30 p.m. and will be led by refuge biologist Ken Sturm. Be prepared with walking shoes or boots and dress for the weather.

Celebrate this special time of year at one of the most beautiful places in West Virginia. As John Denver once said, it’s the place where you belong.