The 28.3-acre Loomis Goose Creek Lakeshore Wetland Preserve, was bought fairly recently, in 2010, by the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy. It is located on Route 394 in North Harmony adjacent to Ashville Bay.
After parking in the area provided, I suggest that you avoid the thick shrubs that precede the woods. Instead, enter by the sign at the culvert and follow the creek. A walking stick and buddy to help you up and down the steep grade from the road is a good idea.
Non-native plants include moneywort and multiflora rose. I've been given permission to cut down the latter and dig out as much as possible. The rose is just beginning there. Maybe we can keep it from taking over.
This shagbark hickory in Loomis Goose Creek Lakeshore Wetland Preserve looks like it is shedding its bark.
Photo by Ann Beebe
The natives include sedges, mosses, goldenrod, skunk cabbage, asters, fungi, ferns and bur reed.
There was a wide variety of trees for such a small area. Those that my friend and I could identify just from the bark and shape were bitternut and shagbark hickory, an ash species, American hornbeam, elm and red oak. One of the trees had a burl on it. Isn't that a wonderful collection in one preserve?
With all that vegetation, in November, we were lucky to see birds. There were white-breasted nut hatches, cedar waxwings, tufted titmice and, of course, chickadees. Squirrel dreys (sleeping nests) were present. What respectable squirrel would not nest with all those nut trees? I did see a red squirrel in another spot. Oh yes, walking was easier on the deer path.
One time when I hiked there by myself, I was really lucky. At the end of the woods, you come to the lake at the mouth of the stream. It's a beautiful spot. There were wood ducks really close to me. They are so beautiful. Then, being covered by vegetation, the view was great for seeing flocks of Canada geese, ring-billed gulls, and hooded mergansers out on the lake.
Let's talk about the hickories. Both the bitternut and shagbark are native.
The shagbark hickory, or Carya ovate, also is known by the common names upland shellbark, and scaly-barked hickory. This tree is big - up to 50 to 80 feet tall. The trunk can grow to 1 to 3 feet wide. The twigs and branches (and leaves in the summer) are arranged alternately. It likes well-drained soil and is more often found on hill slopes rather than lower land. Because folks in different regions and even in the same ones call plants different common names, naming it by its Latin name - a dead language that will never change - saves a lot of misunderstandings.
It has fattish twigs and gray bark which grows in long, thin flaps. At the ends, the flaps hang loosely. I think that the bark makes this one of the easiest deciduous trees to identify in winter.
However, the leaf-scars are also really helpful in winter identification of the shagbark. They look like hearts with many haphazardly placed bundle-scars.
The buds at the end of the twig are ovoid, or egg-shaped, with the big middle. They are - to -inch long, and have three or four dark, triangular-shaped, long outer scales. The buds on the sides of the twigs are smaller.
Next hickory tree: the bitternut, Carya cordiformis. The swamp hickory, a common name for the bitternut, only grows from 50 to 75 feet tall and only 1 to 2 inches wide. Of course, the minute you make a generalization, you find a bigger tree.
The twigs are slender, grayish-brown. The distinctive feature is the yellow bud. The terminal bud at the end of the twig is about -inch long, thin, with a blunt end, and uneven sides.
The bark is light gray, with little depth to the crevices, and ridges that weave together.
The shagbark and bitternut hickories in the Loomis Goose Creek Wetland Preserve are a highlight of the beautiful wood. This is a property for which the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy should be proud.