The Stroud Preserve, 16 April 2013

Toothwort Cardamine concatenata (Michx.) Sw., 16 April 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania. 

Toothwort Cardamine concatenata (Michx.) Sw., 16 April 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania. 

I am finding that I am covering much less ground in the last couple of visits because I do a lot of standing and listening. The landscape is alive with new sounds. Currently, my favorite sounds are the call of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and singing Ruby-crowned Kinglets. I did manage to see a new-year bird for the preserve, a Hermit Thrush, which I was somewhat expecting. I have still be searching the wetlands pretty hard for Louisiana Waterthrushes, but with no luck.

Another thing that slows me down are plants. Above is a photo of Cardamine concatenata. This plant goes by a number of common names; toothwort, cutleaf toothwort, crow’s toes (I like that one), and pepper root. The name “toothwort,” probably refers to “tooth like structures on the rhizomes.” Since I was able to confidently identify the plant without collecting a sample, I do not know what these “tooth-like structures” look like. “Pepper root” refers to the fact that it root is edible and is somewhat spicy. “Crow’s toes” should be self-explanatory.

This is native and considered common in eastern North American, ranging from southeastern Canada to Florida and Texas. At the Stroud Preserve, I only know if it from one tiny spot on a hillside above the Brandywine where there are only about seven plants visible. It is an early bloomer along with spring-beauty (Claytonia virginica) which vastly outnumbers it. They are about the same size so I could easily be over looking others that may be around.

A close cousin is hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsute). It is not native and is absolutely everywhere. It is most likely the tiny white flowering plant that you see growing between the cracks of the sidewalk as well. I have spent a good amount of time looking for another close cousin, Pennsylvania bittercress (Cardamine pensylvanica) which is supposed to be common and widespread in our area, but I have yet to see it. It might not be blooming yet, but I’ll keep looking!

Start time: 8:50

End time: 11:30

Temp: 51-61°

Wind: 5-8 mph from the south

Skies: high clouds, mostly overcast

Species Total: 50

  • Black Vulture – 3
  • Turkey Vulture – approximately 15
  • Canada Goose – 4
  • Wood Duck – 2
  • Mallard – 2
  • Osprey – 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 1 adult
  • Mourning Dove – 1
  • Chimney Swift – approximately 10
  • Belted Kingfisher – 2
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – approximately 5
  • Downy Woodpecker – approximately 5
  • Northern Flicker – approximately 8, heard only.
  • Eastern Phoebe – 3
  • Blue Jay – approximately 10
  • American Crow – 4
  • Fish Crow – 2
  • Tree Swallow – approximately 100
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow – approximately 10
  • Barn Swallow – approximately 20
  • Carolina Chickadee – approximately 10
  • Tufted Titmouse – approximately 10
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 6
  • Carolina Wren – 4
  • House Wren – 1
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet – 3
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet – approximately 12
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – 7
  • Eastern Bluebird – approximately 15
  • Hermit Thrush – 1, FOY
  • American Robin – approximately 15
  • Northern Mockingbird – 2
  • Brown Thrasher – 2
  • European Starling – approximately 20
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – approximately 15, only observed along the Brandywine
  • Palm Warbler – approximately 25, only observed along the Brandywine
  • Eastern Towhee – approximately 10
  • Chipping Sparrow – 1
  • Field Sparrow – approximately 10, many singing along the field edges
  • Savannah Sparrow – approximately 15, many seen along the road west of the bridge
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 25
  • Swamp Sparrow – approximately 10, near wooded wetlands or along the Brandywine
  • White-throated Sparrow – approximately 20, many singing in woodland understory
  • Dark-eyed Junco – approximately 10
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 15
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 150, a large flock (approximately  100) of mostly females in bed of the old farm pond.
  • Common Grackle – 1
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – approximately 15
  • House Finch – 2
  • American Goldfinch – approximately 10