Every day brings changes as spring bursts forth. Leaves, flowers and blossoms are popping out. There is lots to see and hear in and around Rock Creek Park.
Soapstone Creek is enveloped in the pale green of the winged euonymous, more commonly known as burning bush.
Bill Yeaman of the National Park Service tells me this is an invasive species native to Japan, Korea and parts of China.
The mayapples are making an appearance along the trail after Audubon Terrace dead ends.
Keep a look on the left as you head toward Broad Branch Road.
From the dead end of Linnean, the faint lavender of a red bud is barely perceptable amidst the sparse bright green of new leaves.
Lesser celandine, of the buttercup family and a native of Africa and Europe, is a scourge in the park, but a beautiful ground cover appearing in early spring and dying off by the end of May.
It remains dormant for the next 6 months. The problem is that it crowds out the native spring flowers. You can also see it invading the lawns in the area.
The fiddlehead ferns are also making their debut.
In their curled up nubile form, they can be found in various Asian cuisines and were introduced to Maine settlers as a food source by the indigenous peoples who inhabited the area. They are high in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
A most interesting find was the yellow trout-lily, also edible. I first spotted a lonely one.
And the next day, in a large patch.
They are one of the top five ephemerals in Rock Creek Park along with the Mayapple flower. So count yourself lucky if you catch sight of them – “99% of a colony will not bloom” – writes Rock Creek Conservancy. The patch is next to the Black Horse Trail south of Joyce Bridge, on the far side from the creek.
There are lots of insects out, especially of the stinging variety – hornets, yellow jackets, bumblebees, and wasps. This particular wasp was buzzing around the railing of the Ridge Road Bridge crossing Broad Branch Creek.
A bumblebee was sipping nectar from a Dutchman’s breeches as other bees and flies visited these flowers.
Small butterflies called common blues and cabbage whites can be found flitting around on the trail, as well. This one had spotted a mate and soon swooped to make a match.
On a trail leading to the horse stables, the Capitol stones piled up next to the maintenance yard provide a great habitat for migratory and local birds.
A pileated woodpecker is often in the mix of birds in this area. The male’s drumming on hollow trunks to attract a mate reverberates through the woods.
A pair of mallards were so engrossed in looking for food in Soapstone Creek that getting up close for a video did not faze them.
Do get out and enjoy the wonders of spring in Rock Creek and our other neighborhood parks. There will be lots to grab your attention. So keep your eyes and ears on alert.