Mid-Spring in the Sourlands – Hidden blossoms, dazzling critters, and a bounty of ferns

A recent walk in the Sourland Mountains revealed Violet Wood-sorrel (Oxalis violacea) with its clover-like leaves mingling with violets and Virginia Creeper, bright white Dewberry blossoms, large leaf blades of Wild Comfrey (Cynoglossum virginianum) topped with delicate sprays of pale blue flowers, and a last glimpse of Showy Orchids (Galearis spectabilis) before they fade for the season, hidden among ferns and fruiting Bellworts (Uvularia sp.) under arching branches of Spicebush.

Brightly colored snipe and robber flies dashed about to catch their meals, making their living by eating other insects.  Meanwhile spiders waited quietly for a snack to come to them.  In contrast to their name, Scorpianflies are so benign that they feed on insects that are already dead, including leftovers from spider webs.

Ferns spectacularly line the trails, many of them invisible a month ago.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Early Spring, Sourland Mountains, West Amwell, NJ

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Spring was early this year, and the bloom period was very condensed as a result.  In case you missed it, here are some of the wildflowers blooming at Rockhopper and the Alexauken Wildlife Management Area.  Continue reading