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Walk in the Woods

North Main Park

with Livability Educator Jaclin DuRant

Fall is in the air. Pumpkin spice and cinnamon scents waft through the room at the local coffee shops, the scarves and boots are unpacked from their summer closets, and the upstate becomes a veritable kaleidoscope of reds, oranges, and yellows as the trees change into their winter outfits. Of all the signs of fall, the changing of the leaves is easily the most recognizable and the most mesmerizing to people of all ages.

photo of park landscape

Taking a moment to look up at North Main Park

I decided to take a fall afternoon walk in the woods at one of the City of Greenville’s beautiful urban parks, North Main Park. North Main Park is one of the City’s many hidden jewels, containing a community center, a baseball field, basketball courts, a playground, nature trails, and a small amphitheater.

photo of Southern Yellowjacket Queen (Vespula squamosal) rustling through the leaves

Southern Yellowjacket Queen (Vespula squamosal) rustling through the leaves

I didn’t expect to encounter much wildlife on my walk, but I was pleasantly surprised. A Southern Yellowjacket queen was clearly visible against the brown carpet of fallen leaves. The queens are much larger than the male and female workers of this species. She seemed to be searching for something, possibly a nest to usurp. The Southern Yellowjacket queen is considered a facultative temporary social parasite, meaning that she is known to take over established colonies of other social wasps by killing their queen and allowing the workers to raise her young. Her large size is an advantage when fighting another queen, and also a good reminder of the importance of watching carefully where I step when taking a walk in the woods, even in a city park!

photo of a squirrel

A squirrel stores nuts for winter.

Insects weren’t the only animals out and about at North Main Park. One of the city’s most commonly encountered animal resident entertained me for some time on my walk. A lively little grey squirrel was busy burying acorns for winter. This behavior isn’t just good for the squirrel, but it also helps out the oak trees. Often, squirrels forget where they have placed some of their nuts, and after winter, the undisturbed acorns are able to germinate and become baby oak trees; one more example of a beneficial partnership between species.

photo of Beauty Berry

Beauty Berry (Callicarpa americana) lives up to its name.

North Main Park has lots of different pockets to explore, including some lovely little garden areas up on a hillside. One of my favorite plants here is the native shrub, Beauty Berry. In fall, it’s clear where this plant gets its common name, as beautiful purple berries cluster on the vine, inviting all sorts of wildlife to have a snack.

photo of bird

Birds take advantage of a late afternoon snack

I finished up my walk by wandering around by the playground and crossing a small bridge to reach the parking lot next to the community center. For a short, easy, and lovely walk in the woods without needing to leave the City, North Main Park has a lot to offer.

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