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Posts Tagged ‘Spring Woods’

Last Sunday I decided, for no particular reason, to visit Goose Pond in Keene. This was my favorite view from that outing.

Goose pond is part of a five hundred acre wilderness area that isn’t that far from downtown Keene. It  was called Crystal Lake and / or Sylvan Lake in the early 1900s. The pond was artificially enlarged to 42 acres in 1865 so the town of Keene would have a water supply to fight fires with. Wooden pipe fed 48 hydrants by 1869 but the town stopped using the pond as a water supply in the 1930s, and in 1984 it was designated a wilderness area. The vast forest tract surrounding the pond has been left virtually untouched since the mid-1800s, and it is indeed wilderness.

This is one of many approaches to the pond. It’s the one I usually take, which is steadily uphill but not too exhausting.

I was surprised to see shining sumac (Rhus copallinum) here. I’ve only seen this plant in two or three other places so it seems to be on the rare side in this area. It is also called flame leaf sumac, dwarf sumac, or winged sumac. This example had been cut and was only knee high but I’ve read that they can reach about 8-10 feet. The foliage turns a beautiful, brilliant orange-red in fall.

I thought this witch hazel was rushing the season just a bit.

I saw one of the biggest pink lady’s slippers (Cypripedium acaule) I’ve ever seen on this day. The plant was probably twice the size of my hand with its big leaves when usually they are barely as big as your hand. There was no flower of course but there was a seed pod.

And here is the seed pod, with what is left of what appears to be a very large flower dangling from its end. These seed pods contain between 10,000 and 20,00 tiny, dust like seeds. According to the U.S. Forest Service “The seeds require threads of a fungus  in the Rhizoctonia genus to break them open and attach them to it. The fungus will pass on food and nutrients to the pink lady’s slipper seed. When the lady’s slipper plant is older and producing most of its own nutrients, the fungus will extract nutrients from the orchid roots. This mutually beneficial relationship between the orchid and the fungus is known as “symbiosis” and is typical of almost all orchid species.” This is why it is waste of time to collect orchids or orchid seed from the wild and expect them to grow in your yard.

The various views of the water from along the trail were very pleasing on this day. This is a not very good shot of the island that I took with my phone. I wanted to keep it because I camped on islands in a few different area lakes when I was younger, but never this one. There was a chance of thunderstorms on this day and the island reminded me that there’s nothing quite like riding out a thunderstorm on an island in the middle of a lake. There’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide but when it’s over you feel more alive than you’ve ever felt.

This old tree stump showed that the water level had dropped about an inch, despite recent rains. The photo made it look almost as if the scene were floating in the sky.

For the first time ever I saw new spring, purple colored seed cones on an eastern hemlock. I was stunned, since my house is virtually surrounded by the trees. I think I’m always more amazed by what I don’t see than what I do. I can’t explain how I’ve missed them all these years, but they are the smallest cones of any conifer in this region.

Goose pond is unusual because it has a wide trail that goes all the way around it. This part of the trail is really much darker than my cell phone made it look.

There are two or three bridges here to help one across inflowing streams but there are also other crossings that have wet stones instead of bridges, so sturdy waterproof hiking boots are a good idea here. Walking poles too if your balance isn’t what it once was.

Most of the streams aren’t that deep but if you step in the right spot you might find water pouring into your boot.  

Brittle cinder fungus (Kretzschmaria deusta) starts life as a beautiful gray and white crust-like fungus in the spring, but before long it grows into something quite different.

As this photo taken a few years ago shows, a brittle cinder fungus like that shown in the previous photo becomes what looks like a shiny lump of coal. Though I’ve only seen this fungus on standing dead trees and logs it will attack live trees and is said to be aggressive. Once it gets into a wound on the tree’s roots or trunk it begins to break down the cellulose and lignin and causes soft rot. The tree is then doomed, though it may live on for a few to even several more years.

Blue flags (Iris versicolor) bloomed here and there at the edge of the water.

They were just about at the end of their run and looked a bit ragged, but still beautifully colored.

This is a time of year when we see heavy pollen production, especially from white pine trees. A lot of that pollen falls onto the water of ponds and lakes and will collect in the shallows. This frog didn’t look too happy about it.

Northern bush honeysuckles (Diervilla lonicera) were showing their tubular, pale yellow flowers. This low growing shrub is interesting because of its orange inner bark. It isn’t a true honeysuckle, but gets its common name from its opposite leaves that resemble honeysuckles. It’s a pretty little thing that is native to eastern North America.

What I think was a red spotted purple butterfly ( Limenitis arthemis astyanax) landed on a log a few feet away but it didn’t turn to give me a chance for a good shot. It wanted to look rather than to be looked at, so I didn’t bother it and let it look. I hope one of its cousins will be more willing to have its photo shown here in the future.

There are quite a few stands of hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides) here and, though most had been heavily browsed by deer or moose, this one had produced berries. They’ll go from green to red to finally a deep purple. In this photo you can see the dark wire-like stems of hobblebush, which gets its name from the way it can “hobble” or trip up a horse. (Or a man.) Viburnums have been used by man in many ways since before recorded history. The 5,000 year old “Iceman” found frozen in the Alps was carrying arrow shafts made from a European Viburnum wood.

I though this clubmoss was beautiful with its ring of lighter new spring growth.

This is just another of far too many photos of the pond that I took. It’s hard not to admire such a beautiful, pristine place.

I usually go clockwise around the pond and when I do that, this odd stone is one of the last things I see before arriving back where I started. The soil has finally washed away from the far end enough so I could see that it’s only about a foot and a half long. It has been cut, and is faced of all four sides with sharp, 90 degree corners. It’s far too short to be a fence post but in the 1800s people didn’t spend hours of their time working on something like this for no reason, so it was used for something. How it ended up out here partially buried in the middle of the trail will always be a mystery.

Goose pond is a great place to have a hike, especially in the morning. It can get quite warm even in a forest and this day was like that even though I was there by 9:30 am. It takes me about two hours to hike all the way around the pond but I can see a teenager doing it in maybe 30 minutes. It depends on how many things you stop to admire. There are people fishing and swimming and dog walking and even bike riding but all in all it’s a quiet, enjoyable place for a walk or for even simply sitting and enjoying nature. Beside the stream in this photo would be a great place for that.

Go slow, my life, go slow. Let me enjoy the beauty of silence, serenity, and solitude. ~Debasish Mridha

Thanks for stopping in.

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This is another of those posts full of all of the things I’ve seen that wouldn’t fit in other posts.

1. Oak Apple Gall

This oak apple gall was about the same diameter as a quarter. Apple galls are caused by a wasp (Amphibolips confluent) called the oak apple gall wasp. In May, the female wasp emerges from underground and injects one or more eggs into the mid-vein of an oak leaf. As it grows the wasp larva causes the leaf to form a round gall. Galls that form on leaves are less harmful to the tree than those that form on twigs.

 2. River Birch Fruit

The female catkins of native river birch (Betula nigra) will form cone shaped fruit called a strobiles. The seeds in the fruit, called nutlets, are dispersed by the wind. River birch is a popular ornamental tree because of its peeling and curling reddish brown bark. It’s my favorite birch tree.

3. Robin

This robin let me walk right up to him and snap a few pictures.

4. Blue Jay

This blue jay didn’t want any part of having his picture taken and thought he was hidden.

5. Frog on a Log

This bull frog sitting on a log was fidgety and his movements told me that one more step would make him launch himself into the water. I didn’t take it, and he stayed dry.

6. Frost Bitten Sensitive Fern

Sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis) gets its common name from the way even a light frost damages it. This spring sensitive ferns and many other native plants miscalculated and came up early, and a late frost made their leaves wither and turn brown.

7. Interrupted Fern

Interrupted fern (Osmunda claytoniana) looks frost bitten, but it wasn’t. The brown parts are fertile, spore bearing leaflets that appear in the middle of the leaf, interrupting the green, infertile leaflets.

8. Interrupted Fern

 The fertile leaflets of interrupted fern are completely covered with spore-bearing structures called sporangia. The sporangia have small openings that the dust like spores are released through during the summer. The fertile leaflets will wither away and fall off after the spores are released, and by the time fall arrives each leaf will have a gap between its infertile, green leaflets.

9. Grapes

The flower buds of wild grape look like miniature versions of the fruit that will hang here later on.

10. Big Leaf Aspen Leaves

The white leaves of large toothed aspen (Populus grandidentata) mean the tree hasn’t started photosynthesizing. These trees, along with many oaks, are the last to green up in spring. Some call them white poplar (Populus alba,) but that is an entirely different tree, even though they are both in the poplar family.

11. Poison Ivy

The shiny, purplish bronze, spring leaves of poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) make you want to reach out and touch them, but if you do you’ll be sorry. It usually takes about two weeks before the itchy and sometimes painful rash goes away. This plant can grow creeping along the ground, as a shrub, and as a vine like the one pictured. If you spend any time in the woods in this part of the country it’s a good plant to get to know well before you meet face to face. Later, these shiny purple leaves will become green and won’t be quite as shiny, and the plant will blend right in to the background.

12. Royal Fern aka Osmunda regalis

American royal fern (Osmunda spectabilis) is probably the easiest fern to identify because there aren’t any other ferns that I know of that look like it. It can reach 5 feet tall and prefers growing near wateron stream and pond banks. I think that it is one of the most beautiful ferns in the forest. According to the book How to Know the Ferns, written in 1900 by Francis Parsons, the European version of the royal fern (Osmunda regalis) can grow to 10 feet in Great Britain.

13. Striped Wintergreen

Spotted wintergreen is an odd name for a plant with no spots, but that’s what someone decided to call it. It is also called striped wintergreen (Chimaphila maculate,) which makes more sense to me.  This native plant is a close relative of pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellate,) which is called umbellate wintergreen. The small, white to pink, nodding flowers appear in July. This plant is rarely seen here-I’ve found it in only two places and both are areas that haven’t been disturbed by man in 100 years or more. The U.S.D.A. lists it as endangered in Canada, Illinois, and Maine, and in New York it is listed as vulnerable.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Note that I have added a new page called Books I Use.

Have a great holiday weekend. Thanks for stopping in.

 

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I apologize to those who came hoping to see snail’s tongues or some other minute wonder of nature, but every now and then I like to be standing up when I click the shutter, rather than lying in a prone position in the forest litter. A wider view is a little easier on the knees, which seem to creak and pop a little more now than they used to.

1. Full Moon on 4-25-13

Sky and Telescope’s Sky Week program told me that I’d be able to see Saturn just above and to the left of the full moon last week and I saw what looked like a very bright star, but all my camera could see was the moon. I was happy to see that it had some yellow in it and had lost the harsh, white coldness of winter. Of course the moon doesn’t change color and was yellow only because I was seeing it through our atmosphere, but I kind of like this color. It feels warmer.

2. Green Field

The sun was also playing color games. Last year corn was grown in this field and then last fall the farmer planted a cover crop of some kind. In the late afternoon sunshine it was such an impossible bright green color that I had to stop and get a picture of it. My color blindness cheating software tells me that it is yellow green.

3. Monadnock

I went to one of my favorite viewing spots in Marlborough, New Hampshire over the weekend to get a picture of Mount Monadnock. I don’t really need any more pictures of the mountain but I can’t seem to stop taking them.  When I was about 15 or so I foolishly thought that someday I would have made a list of every wildflower that grew on its flanks. I quickly realized that two lifetimes wouldn’t be enough to compile such a list.

 4. Ginger

I saw some fuzzy wild ginger leaves (Asarum canadense,) but no blossoms yet.

5. Bracket Fungus

Once again I found a “late fall polypore” that didn’t know it was mid spring. This is Ischnoderma resinosum, whose common name is literally “Late Fall Polypore.” These are said to fruit on hardwood logs late in the year, but I wonder if temperature and day length isn’t a trigger for them. Days can have the same length and temperature in the spring as they do in fall and these seemed relatively fresh.

6. Big Mud Puddle

I expect trails to be muddy at times but this was ridiculous. Luckily there was plenty of room in a field off to the left so I could go around it.

7. Frog Eggs

It has been dry enough here to raise the brush fire danger to high. The water in the giant mud puddle in the previous photo went down so fast that the mud around the edges hadn’t even hardened when I saw it. Unfortunately frogs, counting on April showers that never came, miscalculated and didn’t lay their eggs deep enough to survive the lack of rain. Even nature makes an occasional mistake and in this case the price paid is fewer frogs in the forest, and that means more black flies and mosquitoes.

8. Vernal Pool Reflections

I stopped at a small pond hoping to see some frogs but all I saw were reflections and pollen.

9. Turkey Tails

I saw some colorful turkey tail fungi (Trametes versicolor) but no turkeys.

 10. View from High Blue

Sometimes you have to climb a hill to see a mountain and that’s exactly what I had to do to see across the Connecticut River valley to Stratton Mountain in Vermont. On Sunday I climbed the hill known as “High Blue” in Walpole, New Hampshire. Whoever named this hill got it right because the view is always very blue. It has been quite warm so I was surprised to see snow still on the ski trails.

11. Trailing Arbutus

I’m seeing a lot of trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens) flowers now. These are one of the most fragrant flowers in the forest, but since they grow so close to the ground you have to get down on your knees to smell them.  While I was down there smelling them I thought I’d get a picture too, so all of you who were betting that I couldn’t get through an entire post without at least one macro shot were right.

The influence of fine scenery, the presence of mountains, appeases our irritations and elevates our friendships. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanks for coming by.

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