Sunday, December 28

Lemon Hill Paths Birds Trees Native Plant Restoration

Yesterday was such a gorgeous day, I decided to do some scouting of locations for the Bird Census coming up January 10th at Lemon Hill (in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park).

The Tree Keepers  have been busy this year, attacking the area twice, clearing downed trees and invasive ground covers from the overgrown woodland paths.

Now you can see through the trees to the amazing Art Museum and Philadelphia skyline.  The clearing also lets you see the historic trees that are quite beautiful, from the enormous sycamores, tulip trees, redwoods(?) and horse chestnuts to the smaller dogwoods, holly, cedar, oak and box.

You can also spot the native trees and shrubs that were buried under vines and bushes, like the toothache trees and ferns.

There are still a number of trees with broken limbs that make the path and walking areas a bit sketchy, and all of the area could use replanting and follow up clearing of English ivy, honeysuckle, Japanese knotweed and garlic mustard. The path surface is cracked and left in chunks of asphalt and the railing has been smashed by fallen trees over the years.

The birds, though, were still abundant and I saw a large number of cardinals, white-throated sparrows, Carolina chickadees, mourning doves and a Red-bellied woodpecker.

As I was walking away, I was formulating a plan to do some replanting with native shrubs and perennials to cover the ground and provide food for the birds.  I don't think we get deer in this part of the park (so close to busy Kelly Drive), so I doubt the plants would have to deal with deer browse.  I would be interested to see how they compete with the invasive vines and how the natives that are in there regenerate over time.  The paths and railings would be a big job and probably take a big fundraising effort.  Planting a demonstration bird habitat would be perfect for the upper hill behind Lemon Hill Mansion and fit in with the programs Bird Philly and Audubon are undertaking across the city.

Interested in getting involved?  I'll be working with the Lemon Hill Neighbors Association to help clear and beautify the area with new plantings.

I'm also happy to have birders join me for the Bird Census, Saturday, January 10th at about 8 am. I usually start at the Kidney Bean garden at Poplar Drive and Poplar St., head to Lemon Hill Mansion, wind down the wooded path and head over to Boathouse Row to check out the water fowl and warm up with some coffee and snacks at Cosmic Cafe . Afterward, I forward the bird count and photographs to Keith Russell of the Audubon Society and he tallies them all up for the annual census. If you are interested in joining me, message me at

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