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Posts Tagged ‘Little Bluestem Grass’

1. Clouded Sulfur

I saw a clouded sulfur butterfly (Colias philodice) on an aster recently. It moved from flower to flower but was willing to sit still long enough for a couple of photos. I like the color combination.

2. Painted Turtle

Painted turtles are still lazing in the sun along the Ashuelot River. Soon they will burrow into the mud on the river bottom. As the water cools their internal temperature will drop to nearly match the water temperature and their metabolism will slow. They will take up enough oxygen to stay alive through their skin and hibernate until the weather warms in spring.

3. American Dagger Moth Caterpillar

The American dagger moth caterpillar (Acronicta americana) feeds on the leaves of deciduous trees like birch, elm, ash, hickory, maple, and oak. This one had someplace to be and was moving about as fast as I’ve ever seen a caterpillar move. It had a black head but it wouldn’t let me get a shot of it. American dagger moth caterpillars aren’t poisonous but some people do get a rash when they handle them.

4. Moose Antler

A coworker found a moose antler in the woods and I asked if I could get a photo of it for those who have never seen one. This was from a young moose and wasn’t that big, but some can get very big indeed. One recent trophy moose had antlers that spanned over 6 feet (75 5/8 inches) from tip to tip. Shed antlers aren’t a common site in these woods even though moose wander through every town in the region. Since they are relatively rare large moose antlers can be valuable when found in good condition. The trick is to find them before the mice, birds, coyotes and other critters chew them up.

5. Virginia Creeper

Fall always seems to start at the forest floor and slowly work its way up to the trees. At present it has reached the understory, as this Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) shows. I grew up with this plant; my mother loved it so much that she planted it to grow up the side of the porch. I watched it turn red each fall when I was a boy and now I look for it every year at this time.

6. Burning Bush

Burning bushes (Euonymus alatus) are also showing signs of fall, with more pink leaves coming every day. This shrub is much loved for its fall color but it is extremely invasive so its sale and cultivation are banned in New Hampshire. Our native highbush blueberry bushes (Vaccinium corymbosum) are quite colorful in the fall and are good alternatives for burning bush. Plant breeders have developed cultivars that are even more colorful than the natives. The American cranberry bush (Viburnum opulus var. americanum) is another native shrub that breeders have been working on and some cultivars display amazing color.

7. Burning Bush

They may be invasive but it’s hard to deny the beauty of burning bushes. Along the Ashuelot River in Swanzey there is a narrow strip of woodland where nearly the entire understory is made up of hundreds of these shrubs. It’s a great example of how invasive plants choke out the natives and create a monoculture. I’m not happy about the monoculture but when all of these shrubs turn the color of the leaves shown in the photo it’s an astoundingly beautiful sight. Though I can understand and even agree with every argument that says they should be destroyed, I have to admit that I’d be sorry to see them go.

8. Birches

Birch trees are among the first to turn in the fall but these examples are still showing more green than gold. We’ve had a very dry summer and I’m curious to see what the colors will be like this year; muted or more intense? So far the shrub colors don’t seem to be affected.

9. Lion's Mane Mushroom

Bear’s head or lion’s mane mushroom (Hericlum americanum) is a beautiful toothed fungus that looks like a fungal waterfall. Soft spines hang from branches that reach out from a thick central stalk. As it ages it will change from white to cream to brown. I didn’t think I was going to see one this year but I found this naval orange size example growing from the cut end of a felled tree just yesterday. I took its photo with my cellphone because that’s all I had with me. I haven’t had much luck taking close-ups with that phone so I was surprised when I saw that this shot was useable.

10. Coral Fungus

I think this white coral fungus might be cockscomb or crested coral (Clavulina coralloides.) Crested corals have branches that end in sharp tips which often turn brown. I don’t see these as often as I do other types of coral fungi. They are supposed to like growing under conifers and that’s just where I found it.

11. Golden Pholiota (Pholiota limonella) Mushrooms

Golden pholiota (Pholiota limonella) mushrooms grew on a beech log. The gilled, lemon yellow caps with reddish scales are slimy to the touch on these inedible mushrooms. An oak kindly dropped an acorn beside them for me so I could give you a sense of their size.

12. Pear Shaped Puffballs

Pear shaped puffballs (Lycoperdon pyriforme) grow in clusters on stumps and logs but these examples were growing on a rotted part of a living, standing tree. That’s not good and the tree will eventually have to go. Their common name comes from their upside down pear shape which can’t really be seen in this photo. As they age pores open in the top of each one so its spores can be released.

13. Wild Plums

The wild plums are ripening. I found a thicket of about 3 small trees under some power lines in Swanzey a few years ago and though I’ve taken photos of the flowers I never came back to take any of the fruit until this year. I thought they were American plums (Prunus americana) but I’m not positive about that. They could also be Canada plums (Prunus nigra.) I’m going to have to pay very close attention to the flowers next spring. The fruit is small at about half the size of a hen’s egg but is said to make delicious jelly, whether American or Canadian.

14. Indian Cucumber Root

Botanically speaking a whorl is an “arrangement of sepals, petals, leaves, stipules or branches that radiate from a single point and surround or wrap around the stem,” and nothing illustrates this better than Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana.) Its leaves wrap around the stem arranged in a single flat plane, so if you saw them from the side theoretically you would see an edge, much like looking at the edge of a dinner plate. If any leaf or leaves in the arrangement are above or below others it’s not a true whorl.

15. Little Bluestem

Native little bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium) catches the light and glows in luminous ribbons along the roadsides. This grass is common, growing in every U.S. state except Nevada and Washington. According to the USDA its appearance can vary in height, color, length of leaves, flowering, and clump diameter from location to location. It’s a beautiful little 2-3 foot tall grass that lends a golden richness to life outdoors. After a frost it takes on a reddish purple hue, making it even more beautiful. The world would be a duller place without it.

16. Little Bluestem Seedhead

There is a lot going on in a light catching little bluestem seed head but I won’t try to explain it; I’ll just let you enjoy its unique beauty.

17. Hindu God Ganesh

I’ve been walking the banks of the Ashuelot River almost since I learned how to walk and I’ve seen some unusual things over the years, but by far the most unusual thing I’ve seen recently is this statue of the Hindu deity Ganesh that I found on its banks in Swanzey. Ganesh is said to be the lord of success and the remover of obstacles on one’s spiritual path. He is also thought to bring education, knowledge, wisdom and prosperity, so I’m wondering what it is the river is trying to tell me. It seems like whatever it is can only be good.

He who has experienced the mystery of nature is full of life, full of love, full of joy. Radiance emanates from the whole existence itself; it does not know the meaning of holding back. ~ Maitreya Rudrabhayananda

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1. Back Door View

Last Saturday morning this was the view from my back door, a measurable snowfall for the first time this season.  Naturally I had to take a walk in it.

 2. GB Heron

Old mister heron was in his favorite tree looking very cold, with one foot tucked up into his feathers. Of course I didn’t have my tripod, so this is the best I could do with photos of him. I was very surprised to see him in such cold weather.

 3. Heron's Fishing Hole

This is one of the heron’s fishing holes. Not his favorite, but at least it wasn’t frozen over. I would think that frogs would be deep in the mud by now, so fish must be the only food that he gets from here.

 4. Heron's Fishing Hole

This is the heron’s favorite place to fish but he probably won’t be fishing here again until March.

 5. Winterberries

Native winterberry shrubs (Ilex verticillata) grow on the banks of the heron’s fishing pond. The berries seem even brighter against the gray ice and white snow.

6. Dead Tree in Ice in Black and White

We had a cormorant fishing from this dead tree one summer but I haven’t seen him at all this year.  As long as he was out at the end of the tree he used to let me get as close to him as I was in this photo, but no closer. He was smart too-the sun was always behind him when I saw him, which meant that it was in my eyes, so taking photos was almost impossible.

As a side note, this is the first black and white photo that I’ve taken that has ever appeared on this blog. The only difference between this and the natural version is the ice had a tiny hint of blue in it; otherwise this was a black and white shot even though it was taken in color. I didn’t really have to do much of anything except let it lead me to where it wanted to be. Mr. Tootlepedal just won third place in a photo competition with a black and white photo and it was his example that inspired me to post this one. You can see his award winning photo by clicking here.

 7. Trail View

We didn’t get more than two inches of snow but it was heavy and wet and stuck to everything.  I saw sunlight at the end of this trail so I followed it.

 8. Fallen Trees

Snow really highlights features that you normally wouldn’t pay much attention to. I’ve walked by this huge clump of blown down trees countless times without giving them much thought, but the snow really highlighted their massive, now vertical, root system.

 9. Snowy Scene

The sky was very changeable and the sun seemed to stay just out of reach no matter which way I went.

10. Footprints

I think it was nature writer Hal Borland who noted how it is almost impossible to get lost in winter because all you have to do is follow your own footprints back the way you came. I agree with that unless it happens to be snowing when you’re trying to follow them.

 11. Sun Through the Trees

The meadow seen through the trees up ahead looked like it might have some sun shining on it or at least, brighter light.

12. Brown Grasses

No sun here, but I like to watch the wind blow across the fields of dry grasses in waves, as in “amber waves of grain.” I was glad there were no waves this day though, because it was cold enough without the wind. Little bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium) seems to be the most common grass seen in waste areas and vacant lots in this part of New Hampshire.

13. Blue Shadows

When I was in high school I had an excellent art teacher named Norma Safford who used to annoy me by insisting that the winter shadows I painted be in shades of blue. I didn’t think blue looked natural and thought instead that they should be in shades of gray, and I told her so. Imagine me, the color blind kid telling the great Norma Safford how to paint! This lady has roads named in her honor. Not surprisingly, the camera shows that she was right and I was wrong.

 14. Wetland View-2

I finally caught up with the sunshine at this wetland and saw that it was melting the snow quickly. By the time I got back home it had almost all melted from my yard. The latest forecast says that we could get as much as another foot of snow tonight, so it sounds like it’s going to be a white Christmas.

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found? ~ J. B. Priestley

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