Newton Pond Park Stewardship Series - November
Promising sludge and rain, dark, grey clouds loom overhead. Creatures of all shapes and sizes make a beeline for shelter, while humans slip into their temperature-controlled homes with ease. For life on the frontlines, however, survival isn’t so simple! Birds, mammals, amphibians, and even plants, all endure these changing seasons with the utmost resilience and adaptability. For the month of November, we’re exploring the cycle of change throughout Newton Pond park, from living beings to local landscapes.
As the climate settles into fall, so does the ecosystem. Deciduous plants, like Bracken fern and Nootka rose, hunker down for the harsh season ahead. As energy is reallocated to their roots, they leave behind an above-ground skeleton of sorts: brown, stiff husks of their formerly lush selves. Bracken fern’s foliage takes on a dark, mottled orange appearance, while Nootka rose offers only bare branches and a handful of scarlet rose hips.
These two dormant, skeleton-like plants provide crucial habitat for many local species. Birds that overwinter in Newton Pond, such as Cedar waxwings and Goldfinches, tend to snack on rose hips throughout the colder months. Meanwhile mice, rabbits, and squirrels seek shelter from heavy rains in the dense, brown thickets of dormant Bracken ferns. Smaller birds, like Spotted Towhees and Song sparrows, can also be spotted darting beneath Bracken fern in the fall, hoping to escape the frigid chill of blanketed rains.
Hiding in Plain Sight...
When the rains blow away what’s left of the leaves, there aren’t a lot of hiding spots left for the animals at the park. So how do little rabbits hide from predators like coyotes and how do coyotes become experts at hunting in the fall? It all comes down to their camouflage! Everywhere you look there’s one color that stands out at the park… it's all brown all around. Some creatures at the park come in all different shades of brown and they’ve perfected the art of hiding in plain sight. For animals that hunt, camouflage helps them creep up on their prey undetected. On the flip side, it also helps prey hide from their predators in plain sight! Camouflage is a win-win for everyone. Some common sightings in the park (if you can spot them) include Eastern cottontail rabbits, douglas squirrels, song sparrows and insects like owlet moths. Keep your eyes peeled next time you’re in the park and you might be able to spot one of them!
Newton Pond Saves the Day
November isn’t November unless it rains non-stop for the better part of the month. Now all that rain might look like a drag, but it's so important to our ecosystem! Rainfall replenishes the soil dried up from the scorching summer heat and creates a nourishing environment for plants to grow next season. However, too much water can be bad news if the ground can’t soak it all up. This is when Newton Pond park comes to the rescue! Newton Pond is more than just a pretty park, it becomes a real asset to the city with its stormwater detention ponds. Over time, they collect rainwater runoff from the surrounding area and store it until evaporation can take place again. Managing excess rainwater is a big deal, since we don't want it pooling in unwanted places like potholes, sidewalks, parking lots, or even your own backyard! If you’re interested, check out how to build a rain garden to help manage all that water build-up on your own property!