Monday, May 18, 2015

May at Ponkapoag pond

After this winter I knew gardening season would get really busy. All the snow did go away eventually, and plants emerged more or less intact, and everyone wanted to garden, and I have been working real hard. I'm not complaining. But this Sunday I had time for myself, and I spent it in the woods, on the 2.5 hour hike around Ponkapoag pond in the Blue Hills reservation. It was a real summer's day with temperatures in the high 80's. Following the trails, here's what I saw.

Tender spring leaves. The hickories have red bud scales opening up like a flower.

 Most of the Jack-in-the-pulpit were still small but there were a few big ones.

I stopped by the Fisherman's beach for a bit before hitting the real trail. I've gone skating here in the winter, and swimming in the summer. The water is shallow a long way out, and there are lily pads floating and little fish swimming.

Violets in the wetlands

Sarsaparilla flowers were attracting many ants

Shy and timid, star flower still shines

 A tattered mourning cloak butterfly sat sunning on an ash, its wings broken and dull. After overwintering under tree bark, it must be near the end of its life.

Fresh new Summersweet leaves (Clethra alnifolia) lit by the sun. You can see several inchworms on it, and if you stopped to listen, you could hear the munching of hundreds of thousands of inchworms, eating their way through the canopy, creating a sound like a light summer's rain when the frass fell to the ground. Hopefully, most of them will become food for hungry chicks, but they still have time to cause considerable stress to trees who are forced to put out a second set of leaves, perhaps for many years in a row.

Out of the woods, the path goes along the shore. I heard a splash and saw this little guy hiding. It's a spotted turtle, not the most common one.
A closeup

The air was full of the blackbirds' song. This is their favorite habitat.
Many of these little damselflies were also flying around. No time to waste in a very short life span.

 I saw a fish about 10 inches long, casually browsing in the warm shallow water. I know nothing about fish so only after asking a friend do I know that this is a largemouth bass. Many other smaller fish were also out and about.

This little chipmunk was viciously attacked by a pair of catbirds. My suspicion is that it tried to steal eggs for breakfast.

I followed the path down to the bog, I wanted to see if the fragrant swamp azaleas were blooming yet and I was curious about the carnivorous plants in the clearing.

 So many blueberry flowers. They are best pollinated by bumblebees.

I heard a song right next to the path and soon spotted the singer. I could not recognize either sound or sight but after consulting an expert I now know it's a Northern waterthrush - a warbler that looks like a thrush.

I had to leave the bog since the old planks were just floating around all wobbly and loose, and I followed the main path to a wooded upland. I was thrilled to see an area where many old dogwood trees were flowering.
  A large dogwood trunk

Mapleleaf Viburnum is common in these woods

And here and there you can still see American chestnut sprouts, reaching up to 15 ft. They rarely get to grow taller than that before the blight kills them.

 An early casualty

 This is also where I heard several ovenbirds, pine warblers and woodpeckers up in the tree tops. I wish I had been climbing with them!

Wild geraniums filled the forest floor.
Wood anemone, the one I named my blog for

Poison ivy fresh leaves and buds. The berries are important food for winter foraging birds like chickadees and titmice. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Things you see when you're in a tree

A collection of photos from some climbs I've been fortunate to do during the past years.

December sunsets

First warm day of April sky from a white oak

 It becomes clear that trees generate their own heat

A dead branch supports just as much life as a live one

April maple buds

Winter climbs bring their own rewards

This wet day it was a lot about willpower

A sunny summer day my son got to try it out for the first time

Here we are cleaning out a screech owl box where the squirrels have been adding layers for years.

Owl view
 Through tree climbing I've been meeting wonderful people from all over the world. This is Women's Tree Climbing Work shop in October 2013.

My house! I live on the top floor in the blue house. As of this summer, that roof is covered with solar panels.

A stunning May day in an oak
I could have stayed here all week, listening to the spring peepers in the marsh below.
 And I was joined by a pair of scarlet tanagers
 Soft Connecticut hills from a tall tulip tree

My parents in their house, Stockholm, Sweden

My mom did not want to climb but it was great to show her what I have been doing.

Large, old, amazing Elm in south of Sweden. Four trunks spread evenly.

Fantastic lichen cover on this old Elm

Early fall foliage from a hemlock in the Berkshires, MA

Marshes and hidden ponds

And another stunning sunset

 Maples, sugar and red, of giant proportions.

Another fall day, we decided against this oak since it was home to some raccoons

We went up this pine instead

One of few solo climbs for me, in the woods close to home

A night climb in a friend's oak tree

At a tree climbing conference in Atlanta GA, I spent part of the day in this white oak.