Oak-Beech Heath Forest-- Seasonal Highlights

Spring Highlights

  • Fresh pale green of new emerging leaves

  • Pink or pinkish blooms of mountain laurel (late spring), pink azalea, hillside blueberry

  • Red blooms of red maple, black huckleberry

  • White blooms of flowering dogwood, common serviceberry

  • Green moss with long thread-like appendages that support tiny spore-bearing fruiting bodies

  • Migratory birds arriving or passing through

  • Nesting birds setting up territories, building nests

  • Veery calling in the middle of the day, when most other birds are quiet

  • Gray squirrels feeding on the buds, flowers, or seeds of red maple Ecobit: When Black is only Gray

Summer Highlights

  • Pink or pinkish blooms of mountain laurel (early summer)

  • Red blooms of black huckleberry

  • White blooms of striped prince's-pine, partridgeberry—low to the ground

  • Dark berries of hillside blueberry, black huckleberry

  • Red berries of common serviceberry

  • Nesting birds actively collecting food for young birds. Baby birds learning to fly and following their parents around, begging for food

  • Gray squirrels energetically flirting, chasing each other through the tree tops (very early summer; their second annual litter of 3-5 born in August or September in leaf or twig nest in crotch of tree)

Autumn Highlights

  • Nuts (hard mast): oak acorns, beechnuts and occasional pine cones

  • Striking color contrasts—Gray rock outcrops, dark soil, green moss, light gray or dark brown trunks, colorful leaves

  • Yellow leaves of American beech, American witch-hazel

  • Red and orange leaves of blackgum, red maple

  • Purple and brown leaves of flowering dogwood, oaks

  • Dark green leaves of mountain laurel, American holly

  • Yellow blooms of American witch-hazel

  • White blooms of white wood-aster

  • Dark berries of mapleleaf viburnum, roundleaf greenbrier

  • Red berries of partridgeberry, flowering dogwood

  • Red fox hunting for mice

  • Migratory birds leaving or passing through and winter resident birds arriving

  • Some years, abundant white, wooly strings of the “Boogie-Woogie Aphid” on beech twigs Ecobit: The Boogie-Woogie Aphid Look for caterpillars or other predators eating the aphids

Winter Highlights

  • Rugged landscape and rock outcrops stand out!

  • Fallen leaves make studying leaf shapes easy: three-fingered leaves of sassafras; scalloped leaves of chestnut oak

  • Tan, dead leaves on tree—American beech

  • Evergreen leaves—mountain laurel, American holly, pines

  • White-and-green mottled leaves of striped prince's-pine (small plant)

  • Green, bare twigs of hillside blueberry

  • Dark contorted stems of mountain laurel

  • Gray smooth bark of American beech

  • Dark, deeply furrowed bark of chestnut oak

  • Fat, onion-shaped flower buds on flowering dogwood tree

  • Winter resident birds such as dark-eyed junco, ruby-crowned kinglet, golden-crowned kinglet, hermit thrush, yellow-rumped warbler

  • Gray squirrels noisily chasing each other through the tree tops in late January and February—part of courtship and mating