Hoyles Mill Conservation Park

your basic boulderjust beneathCarole Bergmann led a walk across Hoyles Mill Conservation Park, home to one of the largest tracts of contiguous forest in Montgomery County. The park’s selling point is its geology, an underlying sill of diabase bedrock that isn’t that far below the surface, as the image on the right demonstrates.

Diabase is prized as a construction material. Its mafic chemistry and the thin soils translate into a forest community of mixed oaks with a fair amount of Virginia Pine and Eastern Red-cedar, but not much in the way of our usual hickories, maples, and Tuliptree. Uncommon oaks to be found here include Shingle Oak, Swamp White Oak, and Post Oak.

running coldWe found American Hazelnut (Corylus americana) in bloom on the far side of Little Seneca Creek, and the state rare Pricklyash (Zanthoxylum americanum) right at the entrance gate.

The special bird sighting for the day was a Downy Woodpecker working the upper branches of a Virginia Pine, hanging upside down. This is not the first time that I’ve seen a Downy acting like a songbird. Maybe I should start calling them Downy Chickadees.