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Posts Tagged ‘Brickyard Brook’

1-brickyard-brook

One of the things I like about this time of year is how you can see so much further into the forest once the shrubs that make up the undergrowth have lost their leaves. This means that things that were hidden all summer like mosses suddenly become very visible. I was surprised to find that I could see so far up Brickyard Brook in Winchester recently. The water was very low and every stone was covered in moss. This is odd since not that long ago water covered most of the stones. Can mosses really grow that fast, or were they there underwater the whole time, I wondered. There are aquatic mosses and one called common water moss (Fontinalis  antipyretica) was recently found to be growing at 1000 foot depths in Yellowstone Lake, near a geo-thermal vent.

2-dog-lichen

Mosses don’t have roots but on dry land they soak up rain water like a sponge and release it slowly over time. Other water loving plants like this dog lichen (Peltigera membranacea) take advantage of that and grow among them so they won’t dry out. This lichen was moist and pliable, even though we’ve been in a drought for months. Mosses also benefit the ecosystem in many other ways.  Bryologist Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer says that “One gram of moss from the forest floor, a piece about the size of a muffin, would harbor 150,000 protozoa, 132,000 tardigrades, 3,000 springtails, 800 rotifers, 500 nematodes, 400 mites, and 200 fly larvae.”

3-medusa-moss-hedwigia-ciliata

The name medusa moss (Hedwigia ciliata) comes from the way this moss looks like a bunch of tangled worms when it dries out. It is also called white tipped moss, for obvious reasons. This moss is fairly common and I find it mostly growing on stones in sunny spots. It always seems to be very happy and healthy.

4-rambling-tail-moss

I think this moss must be rambling tail moss (Anomodon viticulosus) because of its long length and its habit of growing out away from the tree’s trunk. I think it is too long to be tree skirt moss (Anomodon attenuates.)

5-rambling-tail-moss

The main stems of rambling tail-moss are said to be creeping with blunt ends like a paintbrush, and they arch upward when dry like a hook. Those attributes and their yellow green color are what lead me to think that this example is Anomodon viticulosus, but I could be wrong. You really need a microscope to be sure when there are several mosses that look so much alike.

6-apple-moss

Apple moss (Bartramia pomiformis) doesn’t look like many other mosses so it’s relatively easy to identify. Its reproduction begins in the late fall and immature spore capsules (sporophytes) appear by late winter. When the warm rains of spring arrive the straight, toothpick like sporophytes swell at their tips and form tiny globes that always look like pearls to me, but someone thought they looked like apples and the name stuck.

7-apple-moss

Though they’re orange on this example sometimes the spore capsules do turn red as they age, so I guess the name apple moss is appropriate.

8-broom-moss

Broom moss (Dicranum scoparium) gets its common name from the way the leaves all point in the same general direction, making it look as if it had been swept by a broom. It’s a fairly common moss that grows in large tufts or mats on logs and tree bases, soil or stone.

9-delicate-fern-moss

Delicate fern moss (Thuidium delicatulum) changes from deep green to lime green when it gets cold and becomes one of the more visible mosses. It grows in soil in shaded spots and I find it in my lawn each fall. It will also grow on the base of trees and on logs and boulders, where it can form quite dense mats. Orchid growers use this moss in orchid cultivation.

10-greater-whip-wort-bazzania-trilobata

Greater whipwort (Bazzania trilobata) grows right alongside mosses but it’s a liverwort. A close look shows that it looks almost if it has been braided. Each leaf on this leafy liverwort is only about an eighth of an inch wide and has three triangular notches at its base. This is where the trilobata part of the scientific name comes from. It means “having three lobes.”

11-stairstep-moss

Stair-step moss (Hylocomium splendens) is a very beautiful moss that grows on stones and looks quite fragile, but I’ve seen it with icicles hanging from it so I can say with certainty that it’s a lot tougher than it looks. That is most likely why it grows as far north as the arctic tundra. It seems fairly rare here; this is the only place that I’ve seen it.

12-stairstep-moss

When dry stair step moss has a slight satiny sheen to it, and that’s probably how it came by its other common name of glittering wood-moss. Its common name comes from the way the new growth “steps up” off the midrib of the previous year’s branch.  Each year a new branch grows from the old and this growth habit allows stair step moss to grow up and over other mosses. It is said that you can tell the age of the moss by counting these steps, and from what I saw this branch would have been at least 5 years old.

14-big-redstem-moss-pleurozium-schreberi

This is the first time that big red stem moss (Pleurozium schreberi) has appeared on this blog because, though I’ve seen it for years I have only just learned its name. It’s a very common moss that I often see growing in very large mats, sometimes even overrunning other mosses. I finally learned the name of this one by reading The Saratoga Woods and Waterways Blog. If you love nature and aren’t reading this blog you’re doing yourself a disservice.

13-big-redstem-moss-pleurozium-schreberi

It should be obvious how big red stem comes by its common name but I don’t see any red, and neither does my color finding software. I’ve looked through two moss books and countless photos on line though, and all examples of big red stem look like this example. That makes me wonder if its stem isn’t red for part of the time. Mosses do change color.

15-rose-moss

Rose moss (Rhodobryum roseum) is a very beautiful moss and one of my favorites. Each little rosette of leaves looks like a tiny flower, and that’s how it comes by its common name. Rose moss is a good indicator of limestone in the soil so it’s wise to look for other lime loving plants in the area when it is found. This is a relatively rare moss in my experience. I know of only one place to find it.

Moss grows where nothing else can grow. It grows on bricks. It grows on tree bark and roofing slate. It grows in the Arctic Circle and in the balmiest tropics; it also grows on the fur of sloths, on the backs of snails, on decaying human bones. It is a resurrection engine. A single clump of mosses can lie dormant and dry for forty years at a stretch, and then vault back again into life with a mere soaking of water.
~
Elizabeth Gilbert

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1. Brickyard Brook Falls

We had about two inches of rain last week and almost all the snow has now melted, so I set off to find out how our streams and rivers were handling all of the extra water. Brickyard Brook in Richmond (above) didn’t look any different than it would in high summer. The small gorge this little brook cuts through is a favorite spot of mine. It’s always shaded and cool and is a great place to just sit and enjoy the sounds of falling water.

2. Bailey Brook Lower Falls

Bailey Brook in Nelson drops considerably more than Brickyard Brook and has two waterfalls along its length. This photo shows the lower falls, which were roaring. This is not the place to come if you’re looking for a quiet day beside a gentle stream.

3. False Hellebores

I was very surprised to see false hellebore (Veratrum viride) shoots about four inches high. Nelson is supposed to be one of the coldest towns in the county but many plants are further along there than they are in the warmer southern towns.

4. False Hellebores Eaten

I was also surprised to see that something had eaten a couple of the false hellebore shoots. This plant is among the most toxic in the forest but I’ve read that deer have a “toxicity threshold” and can eat as many as they like as long as they don’t go above that threshold. This lets them also eat skunk cabbage, another toxic plant. False hellebore can sicken sheep, goats and cattle, and can kill people who sometimes mistake it for wild leeks at this time of year.

5. Bailey Brook Upper Falls

The upper falls on Bailey Brook didn’t have anywhere near the amount of water falling over them as I thought they would. Again, not much more than they would in summer.  I wanted to get closer for a better photo without the tree in the way but I took a fall here last year and almost ended up in the brook, so I decided that I could live with the tree in the shot.

6. Beaver Brook

Further south in Keene Beaver Brook was different. There was a lot of water there, filling the banks.

7. Tree Over Beaver Brook

Even thought it was high, you could see by how the water stripped the bark from the lower part of this tree that it has been much higher in the past. The exposed part of the log had been bleached silver-gray.

8. Eddy

White foam swirled in eddies in the sheltered areas along its banks.

9. Ice in the Woods

There is still a lot of ice left to melt in shaded areas of the forest.  Maybe this was why Beaver Brook was running faster than the others.

10. Disappearing Hillside Waterfall

The disappearing waterfall on the far hillside was there, just as I thought it would be. It runs for a day or two after a good rain and then disappears, so it can literally be here one day and gone the next. There was still snow in the shaded areas on that side of the brook.

11. Beaver Brook Falls

Beaver brook falls roared over its 30 to 40 foot height. It wasn’t deafening but it was plenty loud. The surface of the brook was made much choppier than it usually is by the force of so much falling water. Since the ice was gone in this spot I was able to climb / slide down the steep embankment to the canyon for an unobstructed view. I’ve wasted many a climb down to the brook only to find the falls in deep shade, but on this day the lighting was perfect.

12. Ashuelot on 4-20

Regular readers of this blog know that this story will end at the Ashuelot River as it must, since all streams, brooks, and rivers in the region drain into it before it drains into the much larger Connecticut River. Its banks are full at the moment. The clouds above it formed an arrow pointing upriver and as I look at the photo I wonder if I should have followed the sign.

For those new to this blog, the name Ashuelot is pronounced ash-wil-ot or ash-wee-lot. I was raised to say ash-wil-ot. In Native American Penacook or Natick language the word means “the place between.” I assume they must have meant “between hills” because we have plenty of those and the river does run between them.

13. Ashuelot Flooding

Downriver in Swanzey the Ashuelot had jumped its banks and turned these hayfields into a temporary marsh. The normal course of the river is off in the distance, just in front of the trees to the left, and it would be hard to see from this spot in summer. This land has probably been flooding since the glaciers that helped form it melted.

14. Canada Geese

The Canada geese seemed very happy with the flooding.

Sit by a river. Find peace and meaning in the rhythm of the lifeblood of the Earth.  ~Anonymous

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October and November were much drier than normal here but finally, on the day before Thanksgiving, it warmed up a bit and rained over 2 inches. I thought, with all that rain, that waterfalls might be worth looking at, so off I went.

1. Ashuelot Depth Marker

Normally this depth marker in the Ashuelot River can’t be seen. When it is, you know it has been very dry. After the rain on November 27th, it is underwater once again.

 2. Disappearing Waterfall

I decided that my first waterfall would be Beaver Brook Falls, north of Keene. The only way to get to them is by walking, and when you do you have to pass the disappearing waterfall that flows down the hillside on the far side of the brook.  This stream appears only when we’ve had a large amount of rain and if we don’t have more it will disappear in a day or two.

 3. Beaver Brook Falls

The falls were roaring as I expected. The mist was reaching me from across the pool but there was very little ice here. Montucky had a great shot of a frozen waterfall on his Montana Outdoors blog and I’m hoping that this waterfall will be as beautiful if it freezes. It’s hard to imagine such a large volume of water freezing, but it can.

4. Stream Ice Formation

Brickyard Brook, which is south of Keene, had more ice on it and some of the formations, like these long needles that had formed on the shore, were really interesting,  Watching ice grow is more exciting than watching it melt, in my book.

 5. Ice on Stone

The stones in the brook had cooled off enough so Ice crystals were forming around them as well. If the weather stays cold these ice skirts will grow larger and will finally join with those along the shoreline, and that’s all we’ll see of this creek bottom until March.

 6. Brickyard Brook

Brickyard brook was a good place to practice my water blurring skills. Blurring water shows the viewer that the water is moving instead of just sitting still. At least, that’s what I get from statements like “blurred water conveys the impression of motion in a still photograph.”  I’m not sure why anyone would think the water in a stream was sitting still, but that is the argument usually made for blurring water.

There is quite a war of words going on between those who blur water and those who don’t, with those who don’t saying it doesn’t look natural and those who do saying that it is “dreamy” and gives a greater impression of motion. Personally, I think it’s over done, but I have seen some really beautiful blurred water photos.

 7. Brickyard Brook

I think blurred water is best used when the focus is on the water itself as it is in this photo. When water is just one part of a wider landscape photo made up of many different elements, blurred water seems distracting because it forces the viewer to focus on the water instead of the landscape as a whole.

 8. Bailey Brook Lower Falls

After Brickyard brook I headed north to Nelson, New Hampshire to see what the cold had done to Bailey brook falls and yes, it was as cold as it looks-and slippery too. There are two waterfalls along this short stretch of brook and the lower falls shown in this photo were in deep shade. In this instance I had no choice but to blur the water, because no amount of upping the ISO or fiddling with f stops helped. I could only hope for sunshine at the upper falls.

 9. Snow Along Bailey Brook

The folks in Nelson saw dusting of snow the night before but before I left most of it had melted anywhere that the sun had touched it.

10. Icicles

The sun wasn’t melting the ice though.

11. Bailey Brook Upper Falls

There was a little more sunlight at the upper falls, but I decided to blur them anyway because there wasn’t much of anything else of interest in this scene.

12. Brook Ice Formation

This would have been a great place to sit and have some lunch, but I don’t usually carry any. Maybe I should start, and spend a little more time sitting in the woods rather than just hiking through them. I’d see a lot more birds and animals that way.

 13. Ashuelot River

All the added water made for some good waves in the Ashuelot River. I think this photo shows a good example of when not to blur water. Even though the water itself is the focal point in this instance I think it would have ruined the shot.

What do you think about blurred water in photos? Do my thoughts on the subject make sense, or am I all wet?

A cheery relaxation is man’s natural state, just as nature itself is relaxed. A waterfall is concerned only with being itself, not with doing something it considers waterfall-like. ~Vernon Howard

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1. Brickyard Brook

Recently, after seeing a great example of a liverwort on the Plants Amaze Me blog I wondered why I never saw such things. After thinking about it I realized that, just like anything else in nature, if I wasn’t seeing liverworts it was because I wasn’t looking in the right places. Since they like to grow where they never dry out completely I headed for a local brook to see if there were any there. Leafy liverworts look kind of like seaweed, so I didn’t think I’d have too much trouble finding at least one example.

2. Foliose Lichen

One of the first things I spotted was this foliose lichen, which I think might be called rag bag lichen (Platismatia glauca). It was growing on a tree limb and was very beautiful. It is one that I don’t think I’ve seen before.

3. Foliose Lichen

I wanted you to be able to see the beautiful growth patterns in the center of the foliose lichen shown in the previous photo, so this is a cropped version. This could also be crumpled rag lichen (Platismatia tuckermannii).

 4. Lemon Drops

I saw several examples of lemon drops here and there along the brook. Lemon drops (Bisporella citrina) are sac fungi that are very small and very hard to photograph. They are disc shaped when small and eventually become saucer shaped. Sometimes they fruit in the hundreds on fallen hardwood logs. They are one of the easiest fungi to see in the woods, but because they are so hard to photograph I usually take many from several different angles.

 5. Oyster Mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) grew on a rotting hardwood stump. These white mushrooms are also easily seen. Their caps overlap like shingles and it always looks like they are crowding each other, trying to grow as close as possible. They have a very short stem that is sometimes absent. Tiny worms called nematodes live on plant and fungal tissue but not on oyster mushrooms. Scientists discovered in 1986 that oyster mushrooms “exude extracellular toxins that stun the worm, whereupon the mycelium invades its body through its orifices.” What this means is that oyster mushrooms are actually carnivorous. They also consume bacteria (Pseudomonas and Agrobacterium) in order to get nitrogen and protein. It’s like something out of a science fiction novel.

 6. Pool in Brickyard Brook

There are several large pools along this stretch of brook. These are the kinds of places where I love to just sit for a while, listening to the woods. On this day there was a large bird circling overhead and making a very strange sound that sounded like a cross between the croak of a great blue heron and the caw of a crow. It’s a sound I don’t remember ever hearing and though I’ve listened to many bird calls online, I can’t find the exact sound that the bird made.Though there aren’t many leaves on the trees in this photo there were still enough in the canopy to prevent me from seeing what kind of bird it was.

 7. Moss Mnium punctatum

I thought that this might be a liverwort but it turned out to be a moss called Mnium punctatum. Though some mosses like this one can resemble vascular plants, mosses have no xylem and phloem, or vascular tissue. This is why mosses are classified as Bryophytes-plants that have no roots, leaves, or stem. They also have no flowers or seeds and reproduce through spores. Since mosses have no roots they need to grow in areas with adequate moisture. This one was growing in soil that was dripping wet.

 8. Rock Covered With Liverwort Bazzania trilobata

Something about the moss on this stone didn’t look quite right.

 9. Liverwort Bazzania trilobata

That’s because it wasn’t moss at all-it was a liverwort that looked like a mass of centipedes. Though not the one I was looking for this liverwort, called greater whip wort (Bazzania trilobata), was interesting and had a beauty all its own. It is quite small-each “leaf” is only about 1/8 inch (3mm) wide. The way the leaves hang down gives the shoots rounded backs and make them appear insect like. They almost look as if they’ve been braided.

 10. Liverwort Bazzania trilobata

The “trilobata” part of the scientific name comes from the way each leaf ends in 3 lobes or notches. This characteristic tells you that you have the correct liverwort when trying to identify it. Like mosses liverworts are bryophytes and have no roots. Unlike mosses liverworts won’t stand anything but pure, clean water. Even chlorinated water can harm them, so if you see liverworts growing in your area you know the water is good and clean.

 11. Ledge Face

Since I didn’t have any luck finding the liverwort that I was after at the stream I decided to try another place where stone ledges stay wet from dripping groundwater. They are also covered with colorful lichens, as the photo shows. These looked like orange sulfur fire dot lichens (Caloplaca flavovirescens) but this was liverwort day, so the lichens will have to wait for another time.

 12. Liverwort Conocephalum conicum 2

I hadn’t walked very far when I saw this mass of plants growing on the ledges. It was obviously not moss, but was it what I was looking for?

13. Liverwort Conocephalum conicum

Yes it was-the very reptilian liverwort called great scented liverwort (Conocephalum conicum), also called snakeskin liverwort, for obvious reasons. I didn’t know it at the time but if you crush this liverwort it is supposed to have a very unique, spicy scent. The reason it looks so snake like is because of the way its pores and air chambers are outlined on its surfaces. It is the only liverwort with this feature, so it is very easy to identify. In my opinion it is one of the most interesting and beautiful things found in nature, and it was well worth searching for.

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive. ~ Eleanora Duse

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