Friday, November 23, 2012

LIfe on the Fringes of the Futbol Field

Acres and acres of soccer fields in Wilmington are not without their natural niches... the developers wisely planted an abundance of trees along the perimeter.


The oaks are young, but growing; producing lots of mast for the suburban deer herd, although some deer are not particularly fond of the live oak acorns' high tannic acid levels. 

The trees also provide habitat and cover for watchers of an avian ilk.

Loggerhead shrike, commonly called a butcherbird for its habit of impaling small vertebrate (and large invertebrate) prey on wire fences or thorns, seems to have adapted nicely to this new homeland of flat and neatly lined "meadows." This chap meandered from fence, to goal, to bench and back, living up to its passerine name, as it perched and searched for prey on a blustery autumn morn.

This striking beauty clung to a bank above the pond; aesthetic assets aside, the invasive non-native Chinese tallow tree, with it's popcorn-like seeds, aggressively occupies ecological niches once dominated by native species such as the eastern redbud or red mulberry.

Time to head back to the soccer pitch for the mid-day match; be careful not to trample the late-blooming weeds!

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