Bethabara Park

Historic Bethabara Park

Park Cleanup. Under the City of Winston-Salem’s Adopt-a-Park Program, Forsyth Audubon has done quarterly cleanups at Miller Park for a number of years. Beginning in 2011, the chapter has moved its park adoption to Historic Bethabara Park. Cleanups take place in conjunction with Keep Winston-Salem Beautiful clean up events particularly in Fall (Big Sweep) and in Spring (Great American Cleanup). We will concentrate on the wetland and the Mill Creek area trails from there to Old Town Rd. Check our Calendar for scheduled dates. Bring your binoculars, since we always take time to check out the birds.

Greenway Access. Thanks to the efforts of Rick Mashburn and Susan Jones, the City of Winston-Salem has created a wheelchair-accessible entry to the Historic Bethabara Greenway at Indiana Ave. near Bethabara Moravian Church. Audubon members and Bethabara neighbors put in much sweat equity to make the access wildlife friendy, too. The access is now graced with native Serviceberry and Spicebush that should be great hosts for butterflies and birds. It was not easy, digging holes through North Carolina clay and rock, but volunteers persisted and prevailed.

Thanks much to Rick for his vision, to Bill Davis for his landscape design, to Susan Andrews, Shelley Rutkin and Lisa Gould for their planning and procurement efforts, to Andy Lawson for his site-prep work and to Greensboro Shrub Nursery for a great deal on the plants. And, thanks to everyone who joined Susan and Shelley on planting day: Amy Bird, Doug Demarest, Phil Dickinson, Brent Gearhart, Myrna Harris, Robert Jolly, Lois Kauffman, Ron Morris, Gene Schepker, Lois Schneider, and Chris Yarbrough, plus Old Town Rd. neighbors Bonnie Doerr, Martha Wood, Becky Brown, Charlie Wilson and Elsa McKeithan, Let’s also not forget Autodrop Slingshot cycling teams Franco Guys, Rory and Paul, and Team PA, which earned points by hauling our mulch for us.

Here are views of Before and After. On April 1, all of the new trees and shrubs were starting to bud out – no fooling.

Stream Bank Preservation. On March 19, 2011, volunteers from Forsyth Audubon, North Carolina Native Plant Society and other groups joint together to plant live tree stakes along Monarcas and Mill Creek. More plants were added in March 2012. The plantings are intented to fortify the stream banks to limit the amount of erosion caused by stormwater runoff. Volunteers attended a workshop sponsored by the Forsyth County Extension Service. The Extension people provided live stakes of native trees and shrubs to all participants. We contributed most of our stakes to the streams at Bethabara. At last check, there was a lot of new green foliage along the banks.

Invasive Plants. Historic Bethabara Park is full of exotic invasive plants, including Chinese Privet, Multiflora Rose and the notorious Kudzu. The Chapter has a goal development of a plan to remove these invasive plants to encourage the growth of native habitat. As a first step, we currently are developing a process to map the location of areas of invasive plants that could be targeted for cleanup.

Breeding Bird Survey. 

In the Spring of 2009 and 2010, Forsyth Audubon members conducted an initial Breeding Bird Census at the park. The Census was conceived and organized by Kim Brand and Katherine Thorington, park naturalist at the time. It followed established survey procedures and took place over a 10-week period from mid-April through late-June each year.

The park was divided into five walking routes, and volunteers covered each route throughout the 10-week period with visits spaced approximately seven days apart. Observations were conducted between sunrise and 11 a.m. On route maps, volunteers charted the location of each bird seen or heard during the visit, and noted specific behaviors or activities such as call-and-response, gathering nesting material, feeding young.

Analysis of  these data indicated at least one territory for 60 different species. Of course, there were our year-round residents (34 species), such as Northern Cardinal, Carolina Chickadee, Red-bellied Woodpecker and Red-shouldered Hawk. In addition, breeding territories were located for 32 migratory species, including Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Scarlet Tanager and Wood Thrush.

Breeding activity of the Wood Thrush was of particular interest given the declining numbers of this species due to habitat loss, cowbird parasitism and other factors. At Bethabara, observers located 21 Wood Thrush territories in 2009 and 18 in 2010 and found a number of nests. This indeed was an encouraging result which has lead to our further work on Wood Thrush (Read more . . .).Of special note was successful breeding by a pair of Tree Swallows at the wetland and three pairs of Acadian Flycatchers each year on territory along Monarcas Creek throughout the census period.

Kim and Katherine have published the final report of the Breeding Bird Survey in Southeastern Naturalist. We are pleased to provide on-line access to “Breeding Bird Community of a Suburban Habitat Island: Historic Bethabara Park, Winston-Salem, NC” with permission of the publisher. The publisher, Eagle Hill Institute reserves the copyright to all its publications. Any reproduction, other than for an individual’s own personal and private use, or distribution of journal content is prohibited without written permission from Eagle Hill Institute.

Lotus Removal. In 2009, Forsyth Audubon embarked on a project to remove Sacred Lotus plants from the wetland near Reynolda and Bethabara Park Roads. This non-native invasive plant has been spreading rapidly across the wetland, affecting the habitat for native plants, birds and other wildlife. Volunteers from Forsyth Audubon and the Sierra Club’s Foothills Chapter embarked in canoes and kayaks on two separate days, collecting dozens of trashbags of cut plants.

We returned to the wetland in 2010 and held two more workdays in August. We took out many, many bags of pods, stems and leaves. However, the rapid growth of the lotus suggests that this is not an effective way to deal with the problem. The faster growth rate in recent years appears connected to higher water levels or possibly silting from the decay of fallen trees. The chapter board plans to investigate possible alternatives with the park and the city.

Lotus Removal at Bethabara by Susan Jones

Lotus Removal at Bethabara by Susan Jones