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Refuge managers seasonally close the trail due to nesting wildlife.

This delightful one-mile trail is a lesson in nature study beginning along a sweet gum lined path, one of the first trees among forest succession. Next will be a small pond where sun loving painted turtles bask in the warm rays. They are easily identified by their broad, dark, flattened, smooth-edged shells, which are trimmed in bright red. They tend to be rather shy and will slide subsurface when approached. Bald eagles, abundant in the area, find these turtles to be a tasty meal. Also among the pond habitat live the black-crowned night herons. They find the plentiful green and bull frogs to be sufficient sustenance.

If journeying during the warmer months, look for the holes along the trail. These have been dug by northern diamondback terrapin, a brackish / saltwater species that lays pink eggs. The adults are often seen basking on the mudflats keeping a watchful eye out for their favorite snacks: snails, claims and worms.

Shearness Pool becomes visible through the trees on the left. A short spur trail leads to water's edge offering a grand spot for observing breeding and migrating species including mallards, pintails, black ducks, Canada geese, and snow geese.

Due to nesting wildlife, the Refuge managers seasonally close this trail, usually from November through the end of June. If you're able to hike the trail during the spring season, you'll be treated to a lovely array of spring flowers. One of the most unusual is the jack-in-the-pulpit, a unisexual species. A hood that arches over the plant can identify it. The upper part is green or purplish brown and is often striped. One or two leaves are divide into three to five leaflets and its fall berries are bright red and hang in clusters. Resident ring-necked pheasants and wild turkeys enjoy dining on the leaves and fruit. Other spring wildflowers you may see along the trail are may-apple, toothwort, spring beauty, bloodroot, wild strawberry, and purple violets. Lady ferns and New York ferns may be identified, too. Remember that collecting any plants is prohibited.

Directions: From Smyrna, DE, Take Smyrna-Leipsic Road east for 5 miles until it merges with Route 9. Head north and travel about 1-2 miles turning right onto Dutch Neck Road. Follow past the historic home. Follow signs directing you to Parson Point Trail / Shearness Pool.

Difficulty: Easy

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Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware

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The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

Review by Wildernet Copyright © 2010 all rights reserved.