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Archive for February, 2013

The weather people were a little off with their predictions for last weekend and instead of a nor’easter dumping a foot of heavy, wet snow we had drizzle that lasted for a day and a half. I was happy that it didn’t snow because I’m ready for spring, but the clouds and drizzle didn’t make for very good photographic opportunities.

 1. Ashuelot River on 2-23-13

February has been a moody, cloudy and cool month and it’s another one that I’m not sorry to say goodbye to. I don’t know if I’m imagining it or not, but even the geese seem to prefer sunny days. I hardly ever see them in this part of the Ashuelot River in cloudy weather.

 2. Witch Hazel Buds

The river banks are lined with Native witch hazel (Hammamelis virginiana) in this area. The buds on this shrub might fool you into thinking it was spring by the way the tiny leaves appear, but they have no bud scales so this is how they look all winter long-naked to the weather.

 3. Elm With Beaver Damage

Beavers have been gnawing at this elm tree for months. I can’t imagine why they picked on one of the toughest, stringiest trees unless it is to keep their ever growing teeth from getting too long.

 4. Growth on Maple Trunk

This maple burl was interesting but on the small side-probably about as big as a football.  One day, if it is allowed to grow, it could be worth a lot of money if sold as figured maple lumber.

 5. Soft Crep Mushroom

The trouble with finding mushrooms at this time of year is it’s hard to tell if they are fresh or if they have been there all winter. These looked and felt fresh and I’m fairly certain that they are jelly crep mushrooms (Crepidotus mollis.) They are also known as soft slipper mushrooms. The biggest one was about as big as a quarter.

  6. Polypody Ferns

The fronds of our native evergreen polypody ferns curl sometimes and that makes their spore bearing capsules (Sori) much easier to see. They appear on the undersides of fertile fronds.

7. Spore Sacs aka Sori on Polypody Fern

The spore sacs on the undersides of the common polypody fern frond are naked rather than covered. They look like tiny piles of birdseed. Common polypody ferns are also called rock cap fern because they like to grow on boulders.

 8. Smokey Eye Boulder Lichen aka Porpidia albocaerulescens

Smokey eye boulder lichens (Porpidia albocaerulescens) also like to grow on boulders and weren’t too far from the polypody ferns. I can’t be positive that this is a smokey eye boulder lichen because the reproductive structures (Apothecia) are so blue. They are usually light to dark gray, so I don’t know if the one pictured is another species or if the color is a trick of the very low light from the drizzly sky.

 9. Hair Cap Moss aka Polytrichum

Hair cap moss (Polytrichum commune ) is always a welcome sight. This moss is very common on nearly every continent and gets its common name from the hairs that cap the hood that protects the spore case. Sometimes it is called goldilocks.

10. Grape Tendril

In the forest everybody is racing to grow taller faster to reach the required amount of sunshine first. Grape vines stake out their territory the previous year by fastening themselves to anything and everything, so when it gets warm enough they have a head start advantage.

You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters. ~Saint Bernard

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When I take pictures for this blog I don’t usually have a “theme” in mind or any pre conceived notion of what the post will contain. I just take pictures of things that interest me, and that I think might interest you. In this post something different happened and many of the things photographed ended up having something in common. I wonder if you can guess what that is before you get to the end.

 1. Smooth Sumac Berries

Birds like cardinals, bluebirds and robins will eat the berries (drupes) of smooth sumac, but these berries seem to be an emergency food because they can usually still be seen in spring. Smooth sumac berries are covered in small, fine hairs that make them very tart. Cleaned seeds can be ground and used as a spice in place of lemon seasoning, and Native American people used the berries to make a drink similar to lemonade. The dried wood of sumacs will fluoresce under a black light, which is an odd but reliable way to identify them.

2. Sugar Maple Buds

The way to tell if you’re tapping a sugar maple (Acer saccharum) is to look at the buds, which are pointed and sharp looking. The two lateral buds on either side of the terminal bud are always directly across from each other.  If you have a good memory you can check the tree in the fall-sugar maple is the only native maple to be dropping seeds in late summer and fall. Above freezing daytime temperatures along with below freezing nights gets tree sap flowing. In New Hampshire this usually happens in February, but I haven’t seen any sap buckets yet.

3. Red Maple Buds

Sap from other maples can be used to make maple syrup but the sugar content isn’t as high, so it means more boiling. Sugar maple has the longest period of sap flow before its buds break, so its sap output is greater than in other trees. The red maple buds (Acer rubrum) pictured are clearly very different than those of the sugar maple in the previous photo. Sap from red, black, and silver maples might cloud the finished syrup, but it is still perfectly edible.

4. American Wintergreen

I was surprised to see that the leaves of this American wintergreen (Gaultheria Procumbens) had turned red. The leaves of this evergreen plant often get a purplish color in cold weather but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them quite this red. This plant is also called teaberry and was once used to make teaberry gum. It was also used as a pain killer in the same way aspirin is by Native Americans.  If you know the taste of American wintergreen you can easily identify the black birch (Betula lenta,) because its young twigs taste the same.

5. Rose Hip 2

I found a rose hip that the birds and animals missed. Rose hips are the fruit of the rose plant. Fresh hips are loaded with vitamin C and make great jams and jellies, and once dried they can be used in tea. The hips should be cut in half and cleaned well before they are dried because they contain seeds and small hairs that shouldn’t be eaten.

 6. Rose Hip Inside

The inside of a rose hip shows the tiny hairs that should never be eaten.  Not only do these hairs cause digestive irritation and upset, but they cause also cause something that Native Americans called “itchy bottom disease.” The French call them “scratch butt. “ I’m sure you get the idea.

Itching powder is made from the hairs in rose hips and when I was a boy you could find ads for it in the backs of comic books, right next to the sea monkeys and genuine monster kits. The ads used to encourage you to “Amuse your friends!” They probably should have said “Lose your friends!” because nobody likes having itching powder dumped down their shirt.

7. Crab Apple

Rose hips are in the same family (Rosaceae) as crabapples and have the same tangy-sweet flavor. To be classified as a crab apple the fruit has to be less than 2 inches in diameter. Anything greater than 2 inches is considered an apple. The fruit pictured is less than half an inch in diameter and is the only fruit on my tree that the birds didn’t eat. It has been hanging there like this all winter. Crabapples are a little too sour to eat raw but they make an excellent jelly. Four species of crabapple are native to North America and have been used by Native Americans for thousands of years.

 8. Puddle Ice Patterns

I stopped at the post office one day and found this amazing ice on a mud puddle there. I don’t know what caused the strange patterns on the ice but I’ve read that the clarity of ice is determined by how much oxygen was in the water when it froze. Oxygen means bubbles and more bubbles mean more imperfections, which in turn mean whiter ice. In fact, the secret to perfectly clear ice cubes involves boiling the water before freezing it, because boiling removes the oxygen. Clarity of ice I can understand, but I don’t know what would have caused all of the little “cells” that are in this puddle ice. I’ve never seen anything like them. I boosted the contrast on this shot so you could see them better.

 9. Birch Catkins at Sundown

The swelling catkins on this birch tree shout spring, in spite of the snow and cold. Birch catkins release their pollen before the leaves appear so the leaves don’t interfere with pollen dispersal.  Leaves limit the distance that the wind can carry the pollen, reducing the chances of successful fertilization between trees. We might be getting blasted by snow and cold, but this tree tells me that spring is coming.

 10. Blackberry Cane

 Were you able to guess what the accidental ‘theme” of this post was? It’s the color red! I didn’t realize until I put it together how much red can be found in the winter landscape. From sumac berries to crab apples to teaberry leaves to the blackberry cane shown in the above photo-they’re all different shades of red. My color finding software that I use to cheat color blindness sees dark red, fire brick red, and even plum in this small section of cane.  I see a nice fat bud that is another sure sign of spring!

Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand. ~Neil Armstrong

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People are getting spring fever and are starting to ask if it will ever warm up and if the snow will ever melt. The answers are easy-yes to both, but knowing when is a little more difficult.  We’ve had a few days above freezing including one glorious 50 degree day with wall to wall sun, but most have been at least partly cloudy and have hovered on either side of freezing. The snow is melting but it is doing so slowly.

 1. Snow Melt

Still, the signs are everywhere.

 2. Snow Shadows

When the wind turns and comes out of the north it is never kind and can and can be fierce at times. This row of maples stood up to it and caught the snow it carried before it could fall to the ground. That’s why the snow melted so quickly on the south side of the windbreak. In other places what was knee high a week ago now comes to just slightly over the shoe tops, but it is crusty and still tough to walk through.

 3. Stream

 Slow snow melt doesn’t have much effect on raising the level of streams like this one but a warm rain in the spring before the snow is completely melted can make small streams rage enough to scour the forest floor. I’ve seen the one pictured grow to more than 10 times this width overnight.

 4. River Ice Slab

What little ice there is along the edges of the river is starting to either melt or break up. This slab was about 3 inches thick. I think this will be another year that the Ashuelot doesn’t completely freeze over. If so this will be only the second time in my lifetime that I can remember that happening. The first was last winter.

 5. River Rapids

Though it looks like it might be a raging torrent, this is actually a sign that the snow is melting at a pace that the river can keep up with. When rapids like these have 6 to 8 feet of water over them, making them invisible, is when the river bears watching.

 6. Lichen Hunting Spot

Because of the heavy snow it has been hard to find much of anything worth photographing in the woods, but now that the snow has melted away from stumps, trees and stones, lichens and mosses are appearing again.

 7. Orange Lichen possibly Caloplaca holocarpa

 This orange lichen was hard to miss.  At first I thought it might be a lichen called Caloplaca holocarpa, but since that lichen likes to grow on limestone and this one was growing on granite, I’m leaning more toward granite firedot (Calplaca arenaria.) Natural limestone is scarce in New Hampshire, but we have plenty of granite.

8. Moss-Possibly Hedwigia cillata

 The ice melted enough to reveal this moss (Hedwigia cillata.) It grows in sun or shade and is common on ledges and stone walls. It also grows well on asphalt and can be found on paving and asphalt roofs. It is said to be an excellent choice when considering a “green roof.”

 9. Coyote Print

I’ve always wondered what snow depth does to animals like deer. It must slow them down considerably, making them easier prey. I think this is a coyote’s front paw print. The animal had woven a slushy path in and out of low shrubbery along the river where beavers have been active. After rebounding from near extinction, coyotes began the slow trek eastward from the Midwest in the early 1900s, finally reaching New Hampshire in 1944. They are now found in every county in the state, but they stay out of sight.

10 Snow Hole

The snow melts in curious, abstract ways sometimes. The setting sun washed this dirty snow with color.

 11. Crescent  Moon

There isn’t much melting going on at night yet. In fact we just had a night with 14 degrees below zero wind chills. But, I read that the planet Mercury could be seen just under the crescent moon if you looked to the west just after moon rise so I had to go out and see it. I saw the moon but didn’t see any sign of Mercury or anything else that looked like a planet. It was mighty cold so I didn’t dilly dally too long, waiting for Mercury to show up.

Those who find beauty in all of nature will find themselves at one with the secrets of life itself. ~L.W. Gilbert

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This post is another collection of things that haven’t fit in other posts.

1. Arbor Vitae Seed Pods

The stiff, woody seed pods of arborvitae look like tiny carved flowers. Arborvitaes are in the cedar family and are used extensively in commercial landscaping. I think this one was a Northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis.) Native Americans used the foliage of this tree to treat scurvy and European explorers called it the tree of life. Its wood is very rot resistant.

 2. Hydrangea Blossom

The back of this single hydrangea blossom reminded me of an insect’s wing.  Hydrangeas are another common landscape shrub with flowers that can be white, pink, or blue. My grandmother always called hers “snowballs,” because that’s what the round clusters of white flowers looked like. The word hydrangea comes from the Greek “hydra” meaning water and “angeoa” meaning vessel, which refers to the shape of its seed pod. The ancient Greeks thought the pods resembled the vessels that they used to carry water in, apparently.

3. The Sky in a Water Drop

One day I as I was going into my house a drop of water fell on my coat sleeve.  As I fiddled with the key, out of the corner of my eye I could see the water beading and glistening like mercury, so I held my arm as steady as I could while I took pictures with my left hand. (I’m right handed) It wasn’t until I got the picture on the computer that I saw that the reflected blue sky and white clouds had turned a simple drop of water into what looked like crashing waves.

4. Barberry Thorn

I wasn’t happy to find Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) growing alongside one of my favorite trails. This shrub is highly invasive because of its bright red berries that birds love. It spreads easily, will grow in the shade, and is hard to eradicate once it becomes established. The worst part of the plant is its thorns, which are as sharp as needles and easily pierce clothing.

 5. Common Split Gill Fungus aka Schizophyllum commune

Small, white and very fuzzy split gill mushrooms (Schizophyllum commune ) grew on a fallen tree. This fungus is special because it is the most widespread mushroom known and grows on every continent on earth except Antarctica. The only reason it doesn’t grow there is because there is no wood there for it to grow on. Though it looks like a bracket fungus it isn’t considered one because it has gills. This example was about as big as a nickel.

 6. Common Split Gill Fungus Underside aka Schizophyllum commune

Books will tell you that split gill mushrooms get their common name from the way their gills are split. It sounds simple until you try to picture how they are split. As this photo shows they are split lengthwise. When this mushroom dries out the gills split and get hairy, as the picture also shows. After they get some needed moisture most of the hairiness disappears and they look a lot like the gills on any other mushroom.

 7. Puffballs

If you speak Greek you know that “lyco” means wolf and “perdon” means “to break wind,” so you wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that the common name of these puffballs is “wolf fart puffballs” (Lycoperdon pyriforme.) I found these growing on a log just before our last snow storm.

8. Lipstick Powderhorn Lichens

Lipstick powder horn lichens (Cladonia macilenta) look a lot like British soldier lichens (Cladonia cristatella,) but they have a single, small red tip instead of the larger, multiple red tips of British soldier lichens.

9. Entodon Moss Possibly Entodon cladorrhizans

I think this might be Entodon cladorrhizans moss, but I’m not 100 percent sure. Entodon mosses are called “carpet moss.” These plants were hanging from the side of a stone.

10. Sulfur Firedot Lichen aka Caloplaca flavovirescens

Pale yellow sulfur fire dot lichen (Caloplaca flavovirescens.) likes to grow on stone that is calcium rich. I found it growing on a stone that was part of stone wall that was probably 200 years or more old. This is a crustose lichen, which means that it forms a crust that grows so tightly to the substrate that it can’t be removed without damage.

For observing nature, the best pace is a snail’s pace. ~Edwin Way Teale

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Oh I remember-I mentioned spring two posts ago. Well, never mind-we won’t be seeing spring for a while yet.

 1. Snow Depth

Last Saturday morning I woke to find this outside my door-the snow, not the yardstick. We don’t fool around with any of that new-fangled weather gadgetry here in New Hampshire.

2. 2-9-13 Snowstorm

The trees had been frosted overnight but it wouldn’t last long because we had a fierce wind blowing.

 3. Trail on 2-9-13

The trails were pristine but the snow was knee deep and impossible to maneuver easily without snowshoes or skis. The gale force winds quickly blew the snow off the trees and had them creaking and groaning so loudly that it wasn’t too hard to imagine what being on a three masted schooner in heavy swells must have sounded like.

 4. February Sky on 2-9-13

The sun came and went and had no effect on either the temperature or the wind.

 5. Wind Patterns in the Snow

The wind sculpted the snow and blew it into drifts-in some places deep enough to completely bury cars. In this picture it was working on burying a stone. Or maybe it was uncovering it.

 6. Snow Wave

 In other places it sculpted waves.

 7. Sun on Snow

All winter long I’ve been trying to convince my camera that snow really does sparkle in the sun. For some reason the camera has a hard time seeing what the eye sees when it comes to snow sparkles. This shot came close.

 7. Geese on the River 2-9-13

The geese on the river didn’t seem to mind the wind. I’ve noticed that their numbers are increasing. Whatever happened to geese flying south for the winter, I wonder.

 8. Ashuelot River on 2-9-13

The Ashuelot River water level has dropped a few feet and it is starting to ice up again. Just a week ago the banks were nearly full and it looked spring like had come.

 9. Ashuelot River on 2-9-13

A couple of nights of below zero temperatures have probably changed this scene considerably since this was taken.

 10. February Sky on 2-9-13

You wouldn’t know it by this sky, but temperatures are supposed to be above freezing each day this week and except for Monday, the sun is supposed to shine all week. I’m counting on it.

The snow was whiter than what seemed possible. ~J. McSparin – 8th Grader

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Many years ago in a land far, far away a rock and roll band called Small Faces sang about a place called Itchycoo Park. The simple story speaks about someone who goes to a park and cries because what they see is too beautiful. I always found it interesting that the songwriter chose “too” beautiful for the lyrics. They could have said “so” beautiful but they didn’t-they said too beautiful. Can something be too beautiful? Here are a few things that I think come close to fitting that description.

1. Window in Ice

I took a picture of some ice on a stream and when I got home and looked at the picture I found an exceptionally clear window through the ice that let me see directly to the stream bed.

 2. Common Goldspeck Lichen on Slate

The bright yellow of this common gold speck lichen against the dark slate made me stop and marvel at the unexpected beauty that nature puts in our path. Sometimes you have to look closely to see it though; this lichen thread was less than half as long as the average fingernail.

 3. Cone Closeup

The geometric pattern on this pine cone was amazing. I think it is from a red pine (Pinus resinosa.)

 4. Inner Bark of Staghorn Sumac

A while ago I found a dead staghorn sumac tree (Rhus typhina) with peeling bark. The color of the inner bark was so attractive that I’ve been drawn back to it again and again. Now it has white patches on it. What they are and where they come from, I don’t know. I’ve been around this tree my entire life and have never noticed this.

 5. Stream Ice 4

 How this stream ice became so folded and wrinkled is unknown to me, but it looks as if it is made of melted plastic that has wrinkled and then cooled. The brown and green colors are the stream bed seen through the ice. Things like this make me think that anything is possible in nature-even that which seems impossible.

6. Winter Leaves

If someone had seen me circling around and around these leaves, taking picture after picture, they might have thought that I’d been in the woods just a little too long, but the deep orangey brown against the white snow stopped me in my tracks.

 7. White Pine Bark

There is a big old white pine tree (Pinus strobus) outside my office window and sometimes I find myself lost in contemplating its bark without knowing how long I’ve been doing so. Up close, it is even more amazing.

8. February Turkey Tails

Readers might be getting sick of seeing turkey tails (Trametes versicolor) on this blog, but they are very special because they offer one of the few spots of color found in the winter forest. I never get tired of seeing their different colors and growth habits. They have secrets that they don’t give up easily.

9. Streamside Ice

These ice beads at the edge of a stream looked like frozen bubbles. Created by drops of splashing water falling in the same places over and over.

10 River Rapids Cropped

You might recognize this photo from my last post, but here it has been cropped to better show the fascinating colors and movement of this river water.  I find the deep green, slightly off center “mound of water” rising up out of the deep blue trough to be especially beautiful. Quite by accident the camera caught it just before it crashed in on itself.

The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself. ~Henry Miller

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Last Saturday (for those of you who may have missed it) Punxsutawney Phil, King of the Groundhogs, didn’t see his shadow when he was removed from his burrow. Some might think that this simply meant that Phil woke under a cloudy sky, but it meant far more than that to The King; he immediately declared that we would see an early spring.  So, bolstered by Phil’s decree, I went off in search of spring.

1. Ashuelot River on 2-2-13

My first stop was at the Ashuelot River, which certainly had a spring like look. I was amazed that two days of above freezing temperatures and two inches of rain had removed almost all traces of ice.

 2. River Rapids

Downstream the river was on full boil and the white water was frothing. It’s a scene that always reminds me of spring. When the river gets like this you can hear the deep and slightly eerie sounds of boulders being rolled along the bottom. Large, heavy objects that roll along the bottom are called the bed load of a river. The amount of solid load that a river carries is measured in metric tons per day, passing any given point.

 3. Riverside Ice

This scene certainly didn’t speak of an early spring. I decided to leave the river and look for spring elsewhere.

 4. Greater Celandine

Greater celandine (Chelidonium majus) was nice and green and looking spring like, but it has been this way all winter.

5. Brachythecium moss

Brachythecium moss (Brachythecium rivulare) is often bright green, golden or yellow-green. I found it growing on a rotting log. The color reminded me of spring perennial growth, which is often a light shade of green or even yellow, in some cases.

6. White Ice

This white ice also reminded me of spring and when I used to ride my bike through puddles full of it as a boy. I used to love the sound it made when I broke it. It’s amazing how such simple things often come with such powerful memories. I can’t think of anything else that sounds quite like this kind of ice breaking, so it’s impossible for me to come up with comparisons for those of you who have never heard it.

 7. Mud

Yes, that’s mud and mud always reminds me of spring. People who don’t live in New England may not have heard about our fifth season, known as mud season. It’s when our dirt roads suddenly liquefy and turn into vehicle swallowing quagmires. Cars and trucks buried up to their axles are a common sight. Mud season happens in spring when the water from the thawed upper layers of soil can’t seep down through the still frozen lower layers. What you end up with is a giant, dirt filled mud puddle that looks like a solid road. Until you try to drive over it.

 8. Red Maple Buds

These red maple (Acer rubrum ) flower buds didn’t fail to bring thoughts of spring either, but it will be a while yet before they break fully.

9. Magnolia Bud

Magnolias set their furry buds in the summer, so these buds have nothing to do with spring until they open. Some magnolias bloom early enough to be true heralds of spring.

10. Poplar Buds

Poplar trees (Populus) are in the willow family and their buds remind me of spring pussy willows. North American poplars are divided into three main groups: the cottonwoods, the aspens, and the balsam poplars. If the buds aren’t sticky then the tree belongs in the aspen group. These weren’t. Aspen buds begin to swell during the first warm period in spring, when minimum temperatures are still below freezing. Air temperature rather than day length determines when their buds will break, so it can vary from year to year.

 11. Daffodil Buds

Daffodil buds are much like aspens in the way that they will simply refuse to grow until it is warm enough, even though they can break ground very early if we have a warm day or two. Seeing them certainly reminded me of spring.

In the end I didn’t find spring and I didn’t see a groundhog either, but I found many signs that told me that nature is stirring, and that spring isn’t too far off. I’d be willing to bet that it’ll be here by the last week of March. By the way, Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of an early spring just happens to agree with the National Climatic Data Center and the National Weather Service.

Spring is when you feel like whistling, even with a shoe full of slush.  ~Doug Larson

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This post contains some of the things I’ve seen that haven’t fit into other posts for whatever reason.

 1. Holes in Snow

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.

 2. Frullania Liverwort

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.

 3. Frullania Liverwort

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.

 4. Fringed Wrinkle Lichen

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.

 5. Beard Lichen

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.

 6. British Soldier Lichens

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.

7. Foamflower Leaves

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.

 8. Birch Polypore

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.

 9. Bracket Fungus

This dried out bracket fungus reminded me of stained glass.

 10. Bird's Nest

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.

 11. January 19th Witch Hazel

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.

 12. January 26th 2013 Full Moon

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

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