Today marks the solstice.

Tree: looking up

It was a gray, heavily overcast day. Dark at night. Dark in the day. Well, at least not bright. There was a bit of snow on the ground, but not much. A perfect blend of autumn and winter to mark the solstice.

Leaves and snow

Much as I would love to see a lot more snow, the scant dusting let some pretty colors show through.

Pine needles, moss and snow

As the days get longer and we move into the frenzy of the holidays, be good to yourself. And get outside!

Christmas Bird Count

This is the 115th year that people all over the continent count birds contributing to one of the largest, longest running data sets in the world that is collected by Citizen Scientists.  If you’ve never heard of it, I strongly recommend that you click over to the Audubon website that gives the history and importance of this effort.

CBC map

I joined a team this morning down at Audubon.

Spatterdock Pond

Temps were in the high 30s. Walking was challenging. The slowly thawing foot of snow covered with a quarter inch of ice was noisy and difficult. I have to wonder how many birds we scared away as we crunch-crunch-crunched along the trails.

Christmas Bird Count - Audubon Nature Center

We didn’t see anything rare. But it was fun when we got to the tower to see over 200 Mallards from the tower.

Christmas Bird Count - Hugh Wood Tower

Don and Scott would continue on through the afternoon, then join other teams for a potluck dinner during which all the numbers would be tallied. One of these years, I’ll make it for the entire day!

Wildflowers of Nova Scotia

wildflowers of nova scotia

For sale on!

I’ve never been to Nova Scotia.  I would like to go.  Especially now that I have SIX photos in a book about the wildflowers of Nova Scotia!

First up is American Golden Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium Americana) on page 59.  This TINY flower was hard to photograph until I got my 10X magnifier which screws on to the front of my 18-55mm lens.  The plant grows in very wet places.  Most of my photos of this plant are from Allegany State Park, including the one that made the book:

American Golden Saxifrage

Next up is Broad-leaved Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) on page 103.

Common Arrowhead w Leaves
This was a ditch flower. I took this photo along Jones & Gifford between Jamestown and Celoron, NY.  For the book, they cropped the top part off that shows the leaves.  They have a different photo that shows the leaves.

On page 108 is Two-leaved Toothwort (Cardamine diphylla)


I have about a billion photographs of various types of Toothwort. This one was taken up in the woods behind Bergman Park in Jamestown, New York.

Also taken at Bergman Park was this Foamflower which shows up on page 139:

Heart-leaved Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)

Kidney-leaved Buttercup (Ranunculus abortivus) shows up on page 206:
Kidney-leaved Buttercup
This is another of the many spring wildflowers I find every spring in the woods behind Bergman Park.

And finally, Spring Beauty (Claytonia caroliniana) is on page 287:
These grow just about everywhere that I hike. This one, again, was taken in the woods behind Bergman Park.

So there you have it. My fifteen minutes of fame.

Wolf Run Road

I needed to hike.  And I needed a fairly flat road.  Wolf Run Road, off Route 280 was the perfect spot.  It’s a part of Allegany State Park, though not a part that the average visitor frequents.

Wolf Run Road

I was a little worried about hunters.  As we walked, I realized that even though the tire tracks seemed relatively fresh, none of the ice on the puddles was broken.  Oh yeah!  No hunting in the Park on Sundays.  Whew.

We saw a pheasant and a grouse. Chickadees. Blue Jays. A Red-tailed Hawk… But what had me fascinated all along the way were those frozen, unbroken puddles.

Frozen Puddle

Frozen Puddle

Frozen Puddle

Froze Puddle

Around Spatterdock Pond

One month ago today I leaned over to pick up my dog and toss her into the back seat of the car. Snap! My back went out! It’s been quite a month of doctor, chiropractor, and physical therapy appointments and exercises. I’m not fully recovered yet, but getting close! Today I walked one mile around Spatterdock Pond and felt real good about it! Of course my back is tired now, but hey… we’re getting there… Slow but sure!

Dogwood Skeletons
This is a color photo.

Ice and Reflections
Ponds were just starting to freeze.

Rushes and Reflections
Rushes were bent close to the water. And the sun started to come out just as I came near the end of the walk.

Pond Colors
The color in this pond stopped me in my tracks!

Sugar Maple
I can’t seem to walk by this tree without snapping a picture.

Happy December!