This post contains some of the things I’ve seen that haven’t fit into other posts for whatever reason.
I wonder what caused these evenly spaced, rectangular holes in the snow. It must have been the wind. After a warm day and very warm, rainy night all of this snow is gone now.
I’ve wondered for a long time whether these growths on the bark of trees were mosses or lichens. It turns out they are neither; according to the book Outstanding Mosses and Liverworts of Pennsylvania and Nearby States they are liverworts. The book says that fall through spring, when rain is plentiful, is the best time to find liverworts.
A closer look at this liverwort. There are mosses that resemble the Frullania liverwort, but this plant is easily identified by its small scaly leaves. This is the only liverwort that thrives in dry locations. A few others can survive in very sheltered parts of dry areas, but most grow in damp forests or on stream side rocks. Like mosses and lichens, liverworts are found on rocks, trees, rotting logs, and bare soil.
There is no doubt that this is the fringed wrinkle lichen (Tuckermanopsis Americana.) It grows near my house and is one of my favorites. I visit it often and the changes I see it go through are amazing. One day it can be completely dried out and drab looking and then, after a rain, plump right back up again and look more colorful. I think that watching this lichen has taught me more about lichens than my lichen book.
This beard lichen grows near the fringed wrinkle lichen but after watching it for almost 2 years I can see that its changes are far more subtle. Unlike its neighbor it doesn’t change color or shape when it dries out. It does become brittle though, so it takes a light touch to tell when this one needs rain. By paying attention to where I find them I’ve learned that many lichens prefer places that are high in humidity or are near a source of water, like a lake or stream. These two are no different-there is a wetland nearby. I’m still not sure exactly what this one is, but I think it might be a bristly beard lichen (Usnea hirta ) because it grows on a birch tree.
I was very happy to see the bright red caps of these British soldier lichens (Cladonia cristatella) poking up out of the snow near my house recently. Certain lichens prefer certain substrates and many will only grow on their favorite type of stone, wood or earth. I always find these tiny lichens growing on rotting logs.
Heart-leaf foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia) is a native plant that grows in great abundance on an embankment under some maples near here. The leaves of foamflower are evergreen and hold their fall color all winter long. In May these plants will be covered in 6 inch tall spikes of tiny white flowers that some say resemble foam-hence their common name.
Birch polypore fungi (Piptoporus betulinus ) seem to be everywhere this year, but it’s probably just because it’s so much easier to see them with no leaves on the underbrush.
This dried out bracket fungus reminded me of stained glass.
I was surprised to see this small bird’s nest for the first time-right next to a trail I’ve followed hundreds of times. It was built only a foot or so off the ground and must have been very well camouflaged. I know that I’ve looked at this very spot countless times and never saw it or the birds that used it.
On January 19th the witch hazel near the Ashuelot river still bloomed in spite of a few nights of below zero temperatures. Since the river water is warmer than the air, it must have some effect on this plant for it to be blooming so late in the year.
A clear cold night and the full wolf moon marked the last weekend of January. I can’t say that I’m sorry to see it go.
The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness ~John Muir
Thanks for stopping in.