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Newton Pond Park Stewardship Series - July

Updated: Jul 9, 2021

From towering trees to decaying dead wood, cottonwoods continue to provide for the park

Have you seen this white fluff whirling around Surrey like a summer ‘snow’? Surprisingly, it does not come from the clouds - it comes from one of our native tree species: black cottonwood.

Each piece of fluff contains a seed that will travel far and wide in hopes of finding fertile soil to take root. The conditions must be just right for this to happen, so cottonwoods send out 25 million seeds each summer for a better chance at success. Surrey is home to many cottonwoods so, it's no wonder a ‘summer snow’ occurs each year.

Identifying Cottonwood

As well as the seeds, you will likely spot some of their catkins (pictured above) which hold the seeds until they’re ready to take flight. Catkins are one way to identify cottonwoods, along with their yellowish-grey bark which becomes deeply grooved with age, and their dark green leaves with pale undersides.

Cottonwood at Newton Pond Park

At Newton Pond Park, black cottonwood lines the perimeter of the park and help to provide shade along the trails. As a native tree species, cottonwoods support native wildlife like deer, beavers, and woodpeckers. You might find woodpeckers pecking in the grooved bark looking for insects, or building their nests in old trees. On your next visit to Newton Pond Park, keep your ears open and you might just hear them pecking away!

Life Among Decay

Among the towering cottonwoods in the park, you’ll also notice several dead trees. While living trees are extremely important for healthy ecosystems, decaying dead wood provides numerous benefits. These dead trees, either standing or fallen, provide food and shelter to small mammals and birds. Dead trees that are still standing are typically known as wildlife trees and are perfect for raptors to perch on while hunting for prey, or for cavity-nesting birds, like woodpeckers, to build homes for their young. Fallen trees make a great hideout for smaller prey animals, and as the log begins to decay, insects thrive and provide delectable treats for local insectivores. Not only do the logs provide habitat, but the decaying process itself returns vital nutrients back to the soil to support the surrounding trees and plants. Spend some time observing dead and decaying trees to see all the life they support.

Newton Pond Bioblitz

Newton Pond Park has tons to offer its visitors - both human and wildlife! As nature lovers, we’re interested in learning what specific species are using the park and its unique features. In July, we will be working alongside the City of Surrey and local biologists in a community science project at the park. Using iNaturalist, we will collect data about plants, waterfowl, birds, invertebrates, and other critters.

Make sure to tune in next month to find out what data was collected on Newton Pond Park’s creatures and features!

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