A group of us went to Cedar Creek Park in Westmoreland County last Wednesday, April 11, to look for birds and blooms. Our highlights were six Louisiana waterthrushes and the largest spread of snow trillium we’d ever seen.
The morning was cold and cloudy so the bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) was still closed when we arrived. By the time we left it was fully open (above).
We were surprised to find snow trillium (Trillium nivale) at its peak in mid April. This flower usually blooms in February or March but cold weather must have held it back. So many blooms!
While we lingered near the snow trillium I noticed the smell of burning coal. The site is far from any source so I wondered where the smell came from.
Later I learned that there are many abandoned coal mines in Rostraver Township and there’s a history of abandoned mine and waste pile fires.
Did I smell an old mine fire still burning? Has a new fire just begun? Do any of you know the answer?
(photos by Kate St. John)
p.s. Blooming News: I visited Raccoon Creek Wildflower Reserve on Friday April 13 where I found the flowers far behind Core Arboretum and even behind Cedar Creek. Yes, spring has been slow to come — and it’s trying to leave again. This phenology map from NPN shows our delayed spring in blue.