It’s been a perfect weekend in nearly every way. Just when the garden plants were beginning to wilt from lack of moisture we’ve had a deliciously rainy day and I was able to get a bit ahead with my work…writing two newspaper columns and organizing a number of future projects. None of that holds a candle to the excitement of yesterday, however, when I led a wildflower hike at Lake Conestee Nature Park and was then on hand to witness the release of a red-tailed hawk. The hawk, nursed back to health by Wildlife Rehab of Greenville, was a young bird that had been found disoriented and wasting away, probably after a collision with an automobile.
It was incredibly inspiring to see this handsome and intense bird of prey get a second chance at life. It was eager for its escape and made a quick leap to freedom when its handler lifted it towards nearby trees.
The hike had its high points too. The open meadow on Forrester Farm Trail was cloaked in blooms. The most eye-catching of the flowers was Bachelor Button (Centaurea cyannus), an annual plant native to Europe but now naturalized throughout most of North America. Golden Ragwort (Senecio aureus), a native plant valuable to a host of indigenous insects was on the wane, but Queen Ann’s Lace (Daucus carota) was just beginning to come into its own.
In the nearby woodland, we discovered Fire Pink (Silene virginica) and Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium augustifolium), but the thrill of the day was the discovery of an Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora) growing alongside Wild Ginger (Hexastylis). This ghostly plant produces no food of its own but lives on nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi that parasitize the roots of a nearby green plant.
Many thanks to Bob Knight, a brilliant photographer who joined the group hike, for the use of several photos.