The Ivy Creek Foundation held its first Ivy Talk (held over Zoom) in over a year on Sunday. We thank Erik Irtenkauf for his presentation "Bird's Eye View: Exploring the Historical Landscape of Ivy Creek Natural Area From Above". In his talk Erik provided a unique view of ICNA/River View Farm over time, through the use of aerial photographs and topographical maps. For those of you who may have missed it, we will share a recording through our website. We will share that link when it is available.
For those of you who are looking ahead, there will be another Ivy Talk on March 14. This presentation will be given by Mike Bishop who will talk about the successful grassroots conservation campaign to restore the Eastern Bluebird. You can register for this talk through our website.
The Barn at the Ivy Creek Natural Area was built in the 1930s by Conly Greer, Albemarle County's first African American extension agent, and it is a testament to his skill that it survives as an example of best agricultural practices of the time. The significance of Greer's achievement has earned the Barn a designation on the National Register of Historic Places. There has been some stabilization work done by the Ivy Creek Foundation and the space is not exactly as it was in Greer's time but much of the historic fabric survives.
The loft of the Barn is a majestic, open space that is rarely been seen by visitors. We are moving forward with plans to be able to open this space to the public in the near future. In the meantime we want to thank Peter Aaslestad for taking photographs of the space so we can share it with you now. This is the view of the loft standing towards the front (closer to the parking area). The hayfork that you see near the ceiling in the front of the photograph was the mechanism that brought the hay, harvested on the farm, from the wagon below into the second story loft so it could be stored for later use. This would have been done with a horse, first pulling the wagon of hay to the Barn and then moving the pulley that brought the hayfork along the ceiling to the appropriate spot to open and let its load drop.
In this image you can also see the windows that allowed light, the ventilation along the sides of the barn and the ladder along the far wall. The kestrel box was installed by former Ivy Creek president Dan Bieker and housed kestrels for a few years before wire was placed over the side ventilation.
The recent snow has reminded me how beautiful winter can be. There is much to appreciate with the openness of the vistas and the play of light with snow and frost. I was sent this photograph of frost on the reservoir by Luca Pfeiffer who captured some the early hour winter beauty of Ivy Creek a few weeks ago.
Now is a perfect time to notice the nests, or dreys, of gray squirrels. Gray squirrels build these dreys in branches of trees and they are obvious when not hidden by leaves. Squirrel dreys have always seemed a bit flimsy to me from my vantage point on the ground and I can't help but wonder how warm they are, as gray squirrels remain mostly active in these cold days and nights of winter. I recently was re-reading a section of Bernd Heinrich's Winter World, the ingenuity of animal survival and found a paragraph where he describes a drey that has blown down in a rainstorm. Heinrich describes a well-constructed and cozy home inside the haphazard array of twigs and leaves that we see from the ground. Just inside the outer shell were layers and layers of oak leaf "shingles", making it water tight. And within that were 4cm of "finely shredded" inner tree bark.
Thank you to Bob Gore for the photograph.
The Ivy Creek Foundation has added a new self-guided audio tour to our Plants of Ivy Creek museum. This tour focuses on the Education Building and shares information about the building itself, the history of the space where the building is situated and walks you through the garden that surrounds it. The Plants of Ivy Creek tours can be accessed through the izi.TRAVEL app. If you prefer to use your home computer you can access it by clicking here. For more information on the other audio tours available at Ivy Creek please visit our website.
I have been away from Ivy Creek for a few weeks. It was so nice to slip back onto the trails on Friday just at the edge of afternoon/evening. There is a special quiet to that time of day and I sat on a bench to take it in. I was lured off my bench by the sound of a pileated woodpecker who I found on this downed tree.
I am happy to be able to share with you that River View Farm has been formally recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. The land was purchased by Hugh Carr in 1870 and remained in his family through 1970. The Carrs and Greers were successful farmers, educators and leaders in their community. Surviving structures such as this barn and the original farmhouse continue to mark the farm's presence. The Ivy Creek Foundation has, since it's beginning, recognized that the story of River View Farm and the people who made it possible is a significant one for our community and have tried to highlight their stories through our educational programming, including school tours, barn openings and Ivy Talks. We are thrilled that this recognition is now also happening at a national level. For more information about River View Farm, please visit our website, our kiosk or take one of the audio tours available that highlight this story.
To those who have been wondering about our resident barred owl, here is an update from Bob Gore. Many thanks, as always, to Bob for letting us share in his glimpses of Ivy Creek.
here she is, popping in....
It was an active day on the Green trail today. On my way to check on a downed tree, I happened upon a flock of robins in a little grove of holly trees making much hustle and bustle. Then, a little further on I could hear a woodpecker hard at work on a tree nearby. I searched out this one. I am never completely sure of whether I have found a downy or a hairy woodpecker so I welcome those birders who can be definitive. I saw no markings on the white strip of the tail feathers so think it is a hairy. She was making her way around the tree, stopped at the hole and then popped halfway in.