Discovering Nature

Category: Plants (page 1 of 4)

Spring flowers

Gaywing

Gaywing

Trillium

Trillium

Rue Anemone

Rue Anemone

Violet

Violet

Coltsfoot

Coltsfoot

Trout Lily

Trout Lily

Salamander Season

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We discovered yesterday that we’d completely missed a chapter of spring. It seems early, but there were lots of signs of the season advancing, including salamanders cruising about among the dead leaves in one of our favorite pools.

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Eggs had already hatched into plump tadpoles.

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Some frogs were floating about. This one’s trying to remain incognito, and she almost succeeded in getting stepped on.

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There were various signatures of creatures who were out and about and carving their names on trees.

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The wind had left its mark too. This tree had been split in two and turned into a drinking trough.

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And this was one of many that had been plucked up by the roots.

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We saw some kinglets, and a few geese squabbling endlessly over their own patch of pond. We also saw a new beaver lodge, and lots of signs of the beaver’s activity on trees along the bank:

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It was sunny and mild, and the green was just starting to show in the landscape.

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On the whole it was a thoroughly enjoyable walk! Even though our winter has been unusually mild, the sight of new growth always marks a welcome change.

Coltsfoot

A friend tells me this flower is called coltsfoot. It’s one of the earliest spots of color to be seen in the mud along the roadsides.

Virescent Green Bee

virescent green bee

This brilliant green fellow landed just as I was photographing this aster.  I learned his name here. He’s just another example of how you can live in the same place for years and years before noticing something common and very beautiful. He adds a new dimension to the already rich fall colors.

Fall Marsh

Creekside

There is a creek that runs along the edge of the church grounds where our homeschool co-op meets. I used my free period today to sit in the colorful, multitextured world of the stream. I wasn’t feeling antisocial — just quiet. It was a lovely diversion in an otherwise busy day.

Revisiting Ferd’s Bog

Lucy, our trusty hiking companion, urges us on

Lucy, our trusty hiking companion, urges us on

One of the places I love to visit in the Adirondacks is Ferd’s Bog, a 50-acre tract of boreal forest surrounding a black spruce bog. I first visited it in 2011, and the bog was filled with pitcher plants; I posted a picture of them here, at my other blog. I haven’t seen the pitcher plants for the last three years, though, and I suspect that people may be venturing off the boardwalk (judging from the many trampled trails I saw into the grasses) and taking them. It’s both foolish (since they won’t grow anywhere else — they grow in the bog because it’s acidic) and selfish (since it alters the ecosystem, prevents others from experiencing it, and even breaks the law by taking plants from a protected area). I hate to sound so negative, but it’s sad to see. I’m not sure whether the process can be reversed or not.

Nevertheless, the walk through the woods into the bog retains its primeval character. There are apparently many interesting birds that inhabit the area, but I haven’t seen any of them: gray jays, boreal chickadees, black-backed and three-toed woodpeckers, for example. But the many plants, trees and mosses always grab my attention and make the walk seem magical.

Here are a few pics from my most recent foray in.

Trail

Trail

Lichen

Lichen

You descend into the bog -- and climb back out

You descend into the bog — and climb back out

A stump beautifully furred with mosses

A stump beautifully furred with mosses

Wood between the worlds

Wood between the worlds

Boardwalk into the open bog

Boardwalk into the open bog

Micro-world

Micro-world

Creeping snowberry

Creeping snowberry

Stump host for all kinds of plants

Stump host for all kinds of plants

 

Open bog -- the black flecks are dragonflies. The air was thick with them.

Open bog — the black flecks are dragonflies. The air was thick with them.

Quietness -- no sound but a single white-throated sparrow

Quietness — no sound but a single white-throated sparrow

Big sky country

Big sky country

Boardwalk leading back into the woods

Boardwalk leading back into the woods

Follow the yellow -- er, white -- brick road

Follow the yellow — er, white — brick road

The trail back out

The trail back out

Red toadstool

Red toadstool

A tree bearded with mosses

A tree bearded with mosses

Red berries -- not sure what kind

Red berries — not sure what kind

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Polished roots

Polished roots

Evergreens

Evergreens

Baby evergreens

Baby evergreens

Log overtaken with other plants

Log overtaken with other plants

Decomposition

Decomposition

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Woodland benediction

Woodland benediction

Some pics of Ferd’s Bog from last year are included here. Some from the year before are here.

Random spring beauties

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This flower is actually called “spring beauty.” Everything else in this post gets informally classed under the same heading… We’re drinking in the sights of the world waking up around here.

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Seasonal Palette

I was struck by the bleached out look of the ferns along the same trail where they are so strikingly green in the early spring.

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Yet — on the quintessentially autumn day, with its dapples of sunlight and its breezes making all the foliage dance — they are just as beautiful as they were in spring.

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Fall’s color palette is a little different, richer in reds and browns. Whether it’s dead leaves or fresh winterberries, there are plenty of accents.

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It’s always interesting to me that my initial impression of perfection — perfect red berries — shows flaws when I look at it through the camera: dead leaves, little spots on the berries, strands of spider web.

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Maybe flawlessness doesn’t have much to do with beauty. It’s all around us, all the time.

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Gorgeous Glen

Despite the many excellent reasons that exist to leave New York State, during the few months when the sun shines it’s hard to beat for its beauty and variety.

Today my younger daughter and I walked in one of our favorite places and saw all manner of wildflowers, heard many birds, and were chased by skippers and yellow swallowtails who managed to escape my efforts to photograph them every time.

Pulling into the parking area, we were greeted by several indigo buntings who proceeded to vanish into the trees, taunting us with their songs but refusing to show themselves. A redtail sailed over a field across the road, and as we started down the trail, another one sailed over the treetops above us as a young hawk called from the woods.

The flowers were friendlier. They couldn’t fly away, and we feasted on the color and diversity.

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First came wild geranium.

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I’m not sure, but after consulting our wildflower book, I think these are lance-leaved goldenrod.

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Some of the trail was lined with phlox…

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…and other segments with bird’s-eye speedwell.

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I’m not sure what these are.

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That’s just a sample. As we turned into deeper woods descending to the stream, I saw a new-to-me red flower — moccasin flower.

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Other than that, it was a mixed-tree forest, some of the trees very large.

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We crossed the creek near a small waterfall.

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It was tempting to keep looking back as we walked down the streambed, because the waterfall seemed to grow.

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…and grow.

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But looking ahead gave us plenty of visual feasting as well, from mossy and enchanted banks…

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…to picturesque trails…

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…to rocks crawling with greenery of all kinds…

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…to unwary chipmunks.

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When we reached our destination — a stone bridge left over from some long-ago inhabitant — the water level was low enough to allow us into the stream. We’d never been there before — only on the bridge, looking down at the tumbling falls.

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There was a winter wren singing almost directly overhead, but I never did get my eye on him. I’ve only ever seen winter wrens in pictures. It would be neat to see one, even though they are fairly ordinary looking little brown birds. Their real charm is their intricate, silvery song, and we got to hear it the whole time we lingered there.

On the way out, we saw still more flowers… forget-me-nots in blue and pink,

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honeysuckle and Japanese honeysuckle,

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and seed galls of some kind. We weren’t sure what this was, but we christened it the green-eyed monster gall.

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I’m not sure what these tiny white flowers are either. I couldn’t find them in our guide.

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It’s not a bad thing to be reminded that there are all kinds of things underfoot and overhead that I rarely notice and can’t identify… There is an excess of beauty in the world. Who would ever know it simply by reading the headlines?

All in all it was a pretty great way to spend a Saturday morning!

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Northeastern jungle

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It was like the greenwood of a fairy tale in the marsh we visited yesterday. Everything was bursting out and greening up and singing and chittering and croaking.

We were greeted by a yellow warbler at the entrance to the trail.

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He stood out pretty well, perched at the highest vantage point he could find.

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But when he turned his back, he looked just like one of the leaves.

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The May apples always bloom in this spot first, and they were everywhere. We found them when we spooked a rabbit and I bent over to look beneath the canopy of leaves for a nest.

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No nest, but… blooming May apples!

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You have to bend the stem back a little to make the drooping flower face front for a picture. It always reminds me of a hold-up: “Don’t shoot!”

There were ferns rolling out their fiddleheads everywhere.

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Not everything was colorful, though. My daughter spotted (somehow!) this leaflike butterfly.

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Tiny plants are emerging on the forest floor. (I got some better, more diverse photos last year around this time.) These are some of my favorites, though I never noticed them till last year.

"Gaywing"

“Gaywing”

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The whole place has a primeval feeling about it.

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Though it’s surrounded by noisy highway, I heard lots of birds — warblers I never got my eye on. But one of the reasons I like the place is that in spring there are so many blooming trees and plants.

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Even though it was in the 60’s, there was no way we could forget that the green carpet is rolled out to stay.

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