Finally – a SPRING walk!

Yesterday was a perfect spring day. Sunny. Started cold. Ended in the 60s. I spent a lot of time in two of my favorite places for spotting spring wildflowers: Bergman Park and Jamestown Community College’s College Park.

When I got to Bergman, I discovered I had no camera card and the “wrong” lens. I walked anyway and found many of the same flowers that I would later photograph at College Park. But I also found Red Trillium and Leatherwood in bloom, which I did not find later.

Here’s my haul from College Park:

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Cut-leaved Toothwort

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Round-leaved Violet

I cropped to try to show you the inner parts:
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I took a bunch of Spring Beauty, trying to show some with the stigma closed tight, and others with it open:
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Spring Beauty

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Colt’s Foot

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a little white violet (not sure which species… so many violets!)

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Blue Cohosh

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Trout Lily

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Spicebush

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Marsh Marigold

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Poor little beat-up Hepatica

There were also a LOT of Common Violets – but they were right by the road and the sun was too harsh, so I didn’t attempt a picture.

In addition, there was this new-to-me flower. I couldn’t find it in Newcomb’s, so I suspect it is not wild. It was at the base of an oak tree near the picnic pavilion along with some snow drops that were a little too far gone to photograph. If you know what they are, tell me!  (UPDATE:  My blogger friend over at New Hampshire Garden Solutions identified the following flower for me.  It’s called Siberian Squill. Thank you very much!)

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There were leaves already up of other species that will be blooming soon! This year, Audubon is doing a series of wildflower classes and walks. I’ll be teaching about wildflower photography and leading a walk at College Park. Check out the series here: http://jasprograms.wordpress.com/wildflowers/

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American Hazelnut

I’m just so fascinated by American Hazelnut (or filbert). They are in bloom now in our region. I found several at Allegany State Park. They are in bloom at Audubon, where I work, too.

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Here’s a large one I found at Allegany State Park

This is a wind-pollinated flower with both female and male parts on the same shrub.

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The male parts, called catkins, produce pollen.

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The female parts are pink!  They will receive pollen, delivered by the wind.

I don’t find a whole lot of them, but once in a while, you do see nuts on the shrubs:
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American Hazelnut

They are in bloom now! Keep your eyes open for them!

ASP – Day 3

For my last hike of the vacation at Allegany State Park, I picked an even, wide path – France Brook Road.  There were still blockades across the road, so I parked where Limestone Run Road meets ASP 2 and walked out as far as the second bridge and back.  Spring peepers and Wood Frogs were making a racket.  I found evidence of some “gentlemen callers” in the puddles and ditches.

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I only saw one egg mass:

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There were several caterpillars on the railing of the bridge. (If you can figure out what kind they are, let me know!)

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I got caught up in photographing the bark of a fallen Scot’s Pine:

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Oh, and there was this leaf… in a puddle…

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It was just a meandering kind of morning. Birds and frogs singing. The world alive. The only thing that dampened my spirits was knowing that this was the last of this vacation. I would have been happy to stay for another few weeks!

ASP – Day Two

On my second day at the Park I decided to try a more challenging chunk of trail.  After all my troubles with my back and knees this winter, I was a little worried, but I managed OK!  I started at ASP 3 and hiked north along the North Country / Finger Lakes Trail.  This section of trail is very rocky at the beginning and very steep.  My heart was pumping hard!  Toward the crest the snow became deeper and covered the trail making my footing a bit unstable, so I turned back.  Still, I was on the trail for three and a half hours, taking loads of pictures – many of which I’m not ready to show… yet!

If hikes have themes, this hike was all about macros, scat, and butterflies.

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Honey Mushroom rhizomorphs (Armillaria mellea)

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A fallen log, covered with sapsucker holes that were beginning to be covered with moss.

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I’m pretty sure this was fox scat.

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And this is probably from a coyote.

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I have no idea what this is, but there were at least a couple of piles of it and Lolli felt obliged to roll in it.  Very odoriferous!

There was also plenty of deer and turkey scat, which I didn’t photograph…

As the sun warmed up the air, the Mourning Cloaks began their bouncy flight all around me. Most of them teased and would not allow a photo. This poor tattered thing rested long enough for me to close.

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ASP- Day One

After visiting Rick’s Sugar House, I headed up to Fredonia where I got to spend some quality time with my friend Sue.  We visited the SUNY Fredonia studios and gallery.  Then Sue and I had dinner and drank (too much?) wine in front of the fire and talked and talked and talked.  Next day, after watching CBS Sunday Morning with my mom (as I do, weekly!) I headed out to Allegany State Park to spend a couple of days shooting some photos and working on other projects.

Lolli and I went for a hike along portions of the North Country Trail / Finger Lakes Trail.  It was this kind of day:

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No long johns.
No jacket.
No hat.
No gloves.
No rain.
No clouds. (Well, a few.)
No snow. (Well, quickly melting.)

No schedule.
No cell phone.
No internet.
No voices. (Except those in my head.)

Oh my god. It is so beautiful.
Let the vacation begin. (Oops, I mean, continue.)

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We went to the spring to fill our water bottles.

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It was actually almost too warm. Lolli thought so. She lay down in the muck and moss.

Uncle Rick’s Maple Sugar Shack

Starting Saturday afternoon and lasting through Tuesday evening, I took a bit of time all for me.  I planned to do only things that would make me happy and to worry about no one else.  Stop number one on my itinerary was to visit “Uncle Rick’s” sugar shack.  I’ve known for some time that Rick boils sap every year, but I had never been able to fit it into my schedule to visit his operation.  Saturday would be the last day he planned to boil – and the first day of my vacation!  Perfect timing.

Rick collects sap from trees on his property and on properties within a mile of his house.  Katie and I rode along and helped empty the buckets.  The sap was flowing fast.

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Lots of critters enjoy the sap, including moths and beetles.  We rescued a couple.

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Rick also stopped the truck to rescue a wooly bear.

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Back at the shack, Rick filters the sap to remove insects and chunks of bark and who knows what that may have fallen into the buckets despite the lids.

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The bit that looks like a metal bucket tapers in and has a paper filter in the bottom.

The wood stove provides heat under two giant rectangular tubs.

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As he pours sap into the larger of the two, he moves rubber bands along a series of nails to help him remember how many gallons he started with.

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(The “Anderson” sign comes from Gordon Anderson from whom Rick acquired most of his equipment.)

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Before moving the sap from the large tub to the smaller for the final boil, he filters it again.

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The resulting syrup is liquid gold.  Katie and I enjoyed testing it.

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Thanks, Rick, for an educational and fun afternoon!

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