The Raleigh Naturalist

July 4, 2008

Back to Basics – East Raleigh beginnings

Filed under: East Raleigh, Gems & Surprises, Greenways & Parks, Nature Lore — Tags: , , , — raleighnaturalist @ 6:35 pm
lower Longview Lake from south

lower Longview Lake from south

    This is the first picture I took with my new camera for this blog, in late January 2007.  Longview Lake was the big body of water in my childhood.  I was more familiar with the upper section, just below  Enloe, which has been surrounded by development and is filling up with silt.  This lower section is in good shape, and some of the homes have small docks, of which I’m quite envious.

   Longview temporarily collects the waters of Bertie Creek, coming down Bertie Drive below Enloe, which then crosses Milburnie at Peartree Lane and makes its way down to Crabtree as seen below.  This lowest stretch of Bertie, which parallels Milburnie and crosses under Buckeye Trail’s beginning, gets some interesting visitors exploring upstream from the larger creek.  Just below the Buckeye bridge over it, the small creek pools up, and I have seen large sliders and snappers meditating a climb over the partly submerged sewer pipe blocking their way.  Above the greenway bridge, there are some nice rock riffles, and I was once amazed ( and too startled to act) by lifting up a large flat rock to reveal an Amphiuma – my only sight ever of this huge, biting salamander.

Bertie Creek hits Crabtree

Bertie Creek hits Crabtree

    Crabtree and Bertie enclose a diagonal of East Raleigh neighborhood, east Rollingwood, that is bordered by rich upland woods.  These high areas surround a large rock outcrop that turns the creek right after it has absorbed the waters of Marsh Creek.   That union, Marsh Creek and Crabtree, creates a huge marshy area highlighted by Raleigh Swamp at Capital Boulevard.  Below that, after the rocky overhang, Crabtree is steadily on its way to becoming a coastal plain waterway.  It’s flat, meandering path is lined with deep, silt-lined walls of clay, gouged regularly by floods.  It is not a pretty creek – the banks give the impression of accumulated eons of ring around the bathtub.  But there are interesting tangles of trees  and the occasional surprise.

Marsh Creek floodplain from Rollingwood

Marsh Creek floodplain from Rollingwood

Crabtree at Milburnie

Crabtree at Milburnie

This “surprise” was a heron which scattered from behind a sewer tower and managed to get caught in my uplifting camera lense.  As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, this easternmost section of Buckeye is very “birdy,” with all three kinds of local woodpeckers, hawks being harassed by crows, and plenty of herons.

Nature News

The Wake County Quarterly

Here, like usual, are so many opportunities to learn about and interact with nature.  Even if you don’t need the structured activities, it’s nice to be reminded of the beavers at Blue Jay Point, the farm history at Oak View Park, the bats at Crowder Park on Ten-ten, and the restored gristmill  at Yates Mill.

January 11, 2008

Oh, my! Here we go – and hawks in Cameron Village!

Filed under: About & reflection, Central Raleigh, Nature Lore — Tags: , — raleighnaturalist @ 1:07 am

This first “normal” post is late –  my own natural history took a sudden gust last Saturday when the huge spread in the News & Observer began a cascade of calls, messages and e-mails about everything from binding family Bibles to studio tours.  Wonderful, but hairy – and all I want to do is get back to the red-tailed hawk family who has moved into Cameron Village.  These guys are swooping down to roost sometimes right beside the library and the one on the left below looks like a juvenile.  I’ll start a series of observations and let you know.  We see these guys all the time – whereas you need to get near some flowing water and real country to see the slightly smaller red-shouldered hawk.



December 29, 2007

The Walnut Creek Greenway

Filed under: Greenways & Parks, Nature Lore, Southeast Raleigh — Tags: , , , , — raleighnaturalist @ 11:28 pm

State Street Greenway Violets

   From the southern edge of the Carnage Middle School campus, or across from the old water station on Wilmington Street you can access a string of highly varied greenway segments that soon will connect Centennial Campus and the Walnut Creek amphitheatre complex.  Due south of downtown, this stretch witnesses the joining of Rocky Branch with Walnut Creek just east of Wilmington, as well as the final taming and flattening of the Walnut Creek watershed as it approaches the Neuse.  Lots of marshy wetlands, including one right behind Womens’ Prison where a greenway viewing deck offers red-shouldered blackbirds, hawks and (after the drought) some unusual wetland plant species.

December 7, 2007

Crabtree at the rocky overhang on Buckeye Trail

 This is the section of Crabtree my friend Bob Bryant and I used to run to straight after school in fifth grade.  We’d carve letters in the big beech that overhung the last big ravine before the creek, and slide down the same bank troughs as the beavers did at night.  This was the sixties and that section of Crabtree marked the city limit.  My Dad had brought me here first, 6 blocks from our house at the east edge of Raleigh, showed me the beeches and the rocky overhang, and promised death if I ever tried to cross the water.  That admonishment lasted quite some time, but became a motivating taboo later.  We played hard down on Crabtree, shot BBs, hauled in catfish and literally dreamed of what lay beyond the muddy banks that were then the city limit of Raleigh. On a nostalgic walk during early college years, I was astonished to see a construction project plowing through our old haunts. They had started work on the Raleigh Greenway.


Buckeye Trail is the oldest section of the greenway, running from Milburnie Road near Wake Med, upstream to Crabtree’s intersection with Capital Boulevard at the old Farmer’s Market.  It is considered the “birdiest” section by the Wake County Birders.  For example, I (no birder myself) have see all three of the woodpeckers likely to be seen – red-breasted, red-headed, and the crow-sized pileated – on this two and one-half mile walk. Below is the eastern beginning of the greenway – an old Raleigh landfill turned into a meadow – great place for seeing deer at dusk.

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