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Posts Tagged ‘Gray Tree Frog’

Quite often after a snowfall in January or February it will get quite cold for a while here in New Hampshire when the storm moves out over the Atlantic and pulls the polar express in behind it. The coldest I’ve ever seen it is 35 below zero (F) and it has only gone that low twice in the 50+ years that I’ve been around to witness it. But, it’s not supposed to get anywhere near that this week. We are supposed to have relatively balmy temps, with highs in the 30s during the day and above zero at night. There is no talk of a January thaw just yet.

1. Snowy River

The river is just starting to ice up. Areas where the current runs slow along its banks get icy first and then the ice slowly grows in towards the middle. When I was a young boy I was walking on the ice of this river one day and all of the sudden it started cracking. It was so loud, echoing off the frozen river banks, that it sounded like gun shots as I ran and dove onto the bank. That adventure cured my curiosity about frozen rivers and I have never walked on one since.

2. Ice Covered Shrub

Ice forms on everything near the river’s edge.  It weighs down young shrubs and sometimes breaks their stems.

3. Icy Twigs

And sometimes they just wear ice collars.

4. Ice Covered Stones

Even the stones are coated in ice.

5. Window Frost

One night when the temperature dropped to below zero Jack Frost paid a visit and drew patterns on my windows. The frost edges looked like feathers, or ferns. Oddly enough these coldest temperatures happened on the night before the earth passed closest to the sun, January 2nd.

6. Window Frost

The different shapes that frost can grow into seem endless.

7. Pinecone in the Snow

Did you ever wonder which end of a pine cone hit the ground first after it fell? Well, now you know.

8. Shepherds Purse Seed Head

This Shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) seed head was the only thing poking up out of a large expanse of white. 

9. Snowy Fungi

These bracket fungi must have been frozen solid. 

10. Vernal Pool

The vernal pools in the forest are also beginning to freeze. A vernal pool is temporary and does not hold water year around. “Vernal” means “occurring in spring,” and these small pools are usually at their maximum depth in the spring due to snow melt and runoff. In the hot, dry days of June, July and August they will disappear completely. Frogs, toads, salamanders, insects and many plants rely on these pools. 

11. Tree Frog on Snow

I wasn’t expecting to see this poor tree frog on top of the snow. I followed his short trail to find that it began in the middle of nowhere, so he either dug his way up from the soil to the snow’s surface or fell out of a tree. I’ve always heard that they burrow into mud for the winter but he seemed to have a broken leg, and that got me wondering if he had fallen out of a tree. Other than wishing him well, there was little I could think of to do for him.

12. Oak Galls

The wasps inside these oak galls will fare much better than the tree frog, I’m sure. They will emerge in spring when it is warm and the snow has melted.

If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking.  Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk. ~Raymond Inmon

Thanks for stopping in. I hope you see plenty of bright sunshine and bearable temperatures, no matter where you live.

 

 

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I see different insects, spiders, and other things in the woods and fields but I never seem to be able to fit them into a post, so I decided to give them their own post. I was glad that these Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica) were eating the jewel weed instead of plants in my garden. I like the shiny coppery / bronze finish that these two displayed. They almost look as if they had been plated. This millipede was crawling around in the forest litter one day and I wasn’t sure at first what it was because I don’t see many of them. It was quite big, and must have been 3 or 4 inches long. I think it is an American Giant Millipede (Narceus americanus.) It’s hard to see them in the photo but each body segment has a red band along one edge. Millipedes feed on decaying forest litter, much like mushrooms do. They, in turn, are a favorite snack of shrews. This little tree frog was hopping around in the forest litter. I was surprised how far he could hop but he sat still long enough for me to get a few pictures.  I was also surprised at how small he was-that’s a pine needle he’s balancing on. I went to a “Frogs of New Hampshire” web site by the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game, but they didn’t show anything like this one. Since then a fellow blogger  told me that the only frog with suction cup toes in New Hampshire is the gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor.) They aren’t just gray though, because they have the ability to change the color of their skin like a chameleon. I like the camouflage he decided to wear for this picture. 

Update: it has been determined that this guy is actually a spring peeper!  (Pseudacris crucifer) See the cross on his back? That’s where the “crucifer” comes in.

This pond frog thought he was well hidden, but I watched him jump to this spot so I was able to see him.This pink / yellow / orange slug seemed drawn to these purple edged turkey tail fungi (Trametes versicolor.) I wonder if what they eat determines their color. This large caterpillar had a horn on his tail, and he moved very fast for a caterpillar. I think this might be a waved sphinx moth (Ceratomia undulosa) caterpillar. He looks a little wrinkled but that seems to be normal for these guys.This big black and yellow Argiope Orb Spider built her web right across the path I was using so I stopped and took some pictures before going around her. Looking for the zig zagged part of the web, usually near the center, is a good way to identify these spiders. I used to watch these spiders for hours when I was a boy. I don’t know why this box elder bug (boisea trivittata) was on this goldenrod, but he was in no hurry to leave. Box elder seed pods are this bug’s favorite food, but it will eat many other plants. It is thought that box elder bugs go through a “population explosion” every ten years. If there is a seed bearing female box elder in the vicinity of your home this bug is often found indoors too, like the ladybug.  This pearly crescent spot butterfly (Phyciodes tharos) landed on some deer tongue grass just in front of me and was kind enough to sit still so I could get some pictures. The “pearly crescent spot” this butterfly is named for is on the underside of the wing.

Update: After responding to a comment on this butterfly I did a little more digging and discovered that this is actually the northern crescent  (Phyciodes cocyta), which is closely related to the pearl crescent. The main difference seems to be the amount of white on the wing edges. There is also anothe one called the Tawny crescent  (Phyciodes batesii.)

This monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is one of only two or three that I’ve seen this year. I don’t know where they all are, but it isn’t in southwestern New Hampshire. This one stayed on this evening primrose plant for quite a while. One morning recently it was actually quite cool-probably 50 degrees-and this eastern red spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) was in a sunny spot on the path, trying to warm up. He didn’t move at all the entire time I was there so I’m assuming that he was really cold. These are also called red efts. Seeing him led me to discover that a newt is just a small salamander and that a siren is an aquatic salamander with no hind legs. It’s amazing what a walk in the woods can teach you! Sometimes you don’t have to see the critter to know it was there.

Nature is not a place to visit. It is home ~ Gary Snyder

Thanks for stopping in.

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