Discovering Nature

Category: Woods (page 1 of 4)


These little guys are so fearful of being seen. If only they could be quieter, they’d have better success. But first it’s the chipping out of vocal warnings from their roosts, and then it’s the frantic scrabble of little claws on bark that gives them away.

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Salamander Season


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.


Eggs had already hatched into plump tadpoles.


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


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





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


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


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:


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


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.


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.

Chipmunks or deer?

“What would you say?” I asked my daughter on our way out of the woods. “Was this walk mostly about chipmunks or deer?”

“Chipmunks, probably,” she answered.

But three deer, resting and grazing, were the first things we saw — after the monarch mudskipping in the parking lot. Later, we heard the snorty scream of a deer warning call, followed by some banging sounds, and then a young buck running through the woods across the creek from us. Could he have been clashing antlers with another deer? Or did he get stuck in a tight spot somewhere? Strange. We back tracked to see if we could get another look at him, and though we did see him we didn’t get any pics. Still another young deer bid us goodbye as we left the woods, too. They were surely out and about.

The chipmunks were definitely impossible to ignore, however! They scampered everywhere and chirped till the woods rang with it, warning everyone that we were intruding. The little guy pictured in the log was close enough to his safety zone to indulge his curiosity about us somewhat before disappearing inside.

The other story, for me, was the busyness and color of the woods. It shows up especially in the stream/bridge pictures. It’s difficult to find a single area of the scene that isn’t already brimfull of other outlines. It reminds me of those art class exercises where you are instructed to fill every space with a different pattern.

Not a ton of color this fall — mostly yellows and rust colors. It’s been dry. But it’s enough to tint the sunlight, giving it a beautiful burnished glow before it hits the ground.


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.

Pathway ponderings


Older Daughter and I took a walk down a familiar trail the other day. It was midafternoon and there wasn’t much wildlife to be seen. But this woodpecker tree was one of several reminders that the woodland inhabitants were alive and well.

IMG_0662The trail wound invitingly among ferns and trees. We’ll have a few months of color, then the winter monchromatic palette will be back in play.

"Green thoughts in a green shade"

“Green thoughts in a green shade”

I thought this fuzzy fungus was a mouse at first.


We descended to a favorite spot along the creek, a small waterfall that always invites us for a picnic (though we never have one packed).



The picturesque scene hides a tragedy. The water was low enough that we walked up the creekbed instead of returning to the trail. At the base of the falls, hidden here by the pile of flood debris, was a dead rabbit, soaked with mud, eyes still open in panic. Somehow it had been washed down the creek and killed.

It was a disturbing sight. I’ve often noticed the waste of roadkill — animals hit by cars by accident. Nature is usually more purposeful, and a favorite mantra of nature writers is “the economy of nature.” But this was an example of pure accident. I couldn’t help brooding over it as we walked on.



Looking back downstream

Looking back downstream

Raccoons had left their prints along the edge, attracted by the crayfish and frogs.


Did someone say "frogs"?

Did someone say “frogs”?

It was a nice walk, though we were out at the wrong time of day to see any early warblers coming through on their way back south. The almanac predicts another harsh winter, and I saw some warblers on the move when we vacationed north of here a few weeks ago. Hopefully we’ll see a few in the days to come.

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.





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



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



Polished roots

Polished roots



Baby evergreens

Baby evergreens

Log overtaken with other plants

Log overtaken with other plants




Woodland benediction

Woodland benediction

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

Brave blooms and a spring stream


They look like they’ve just arrived from someplace warmer, a small group of tourists looking hopefully around for accommodations.


Then there’s this one, growing in a tiny stream. Bloom where you’re planted.


We enjoyed the gorgeous glen on a sunny day. The joyous spring sound of rushing water was everywhere.




Wet-loving plants and mosses adorned the shale walls and dead trees.


I was taken with the sense of heights as we walked down the streambed. Everywhere, the steep banks invited us to look upward toward the sun.




The contrast between light and dimness caught my attention. So did the contrast between beauty and violence.  You can’t get a stream picture that doesn’t include trees fallen down steep banks, broken and rotting — or great stones tumbled who knows how far by the water at its strongest.


Someone had created a space for humans along one part of the bank.



I, along with my daughters, joined in. We left our names there beside a growing number of others.


Sunday stroll


The leaves are nowhere near their peak, but that’s not to say there isn’t plenty of fall color. The light has that special fall look, too — somehow brighter and more merciless. I’m not sure why that word comes to mind, but it does.

It makes for more brilliant reflections on water, where it’s hard to tell where the real ends and the reflection begins.



We enjoyed a sunbathed walk yesterday along paths that invited reflection of a different kind.



It’s always amazing to me when the eye falls on something as tiny as this toad among the heights and colors of the forest.


So many places for little things to hide….


…and the animals are taking on their winter colors. This young deer blended in so well it didn’t even bother to run away.


We walked a little further and met another. They were both from this spring’s batch of fawns, I’m guessing, and they were very unwary.


This one walked up to us, curious and utterly innocent.


It came within 8 feet to check us out.


Finally it figured out that we weren’t familiar or promising, and bounded away down the trail.


I’ve never been approached that closely by a deer before. Hopefully this youngster wouldn’t be so slow to react to a coyote!

It was a lovely day for a walk, and this encounter was definitely a highlight.


Adirondack Album

We visited the Adirondacks in July. Here is just a sampling of the beauties we enjoyed.

Adirondack Whitetails


Scenes like this were not unusual on our July trip to the Adirondack region.


The deer seemed as curious about us as we were about them.


But only for so long. Always best to run home to Mom.



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