To all those interested in the natural world. Please add your sightings.

In the woods we return to reason and faith-Emerson


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

For the past two weeks I've been watching some orchids which are growing in my field in hope of seeing them flower and - hopefully - identifying them. This morning the first flowers started to open, and it became obvious that they were fringed orchids. At first I thought White Fringed Orchid; next I thought Ragged Fringed Orchid; now I'm not certain ... but ... I'm leaning toward Ragged Fringed ...
I took this picture to post with this report. Opinions are welcome!
A baby girl red-breasted grosbeak sitting on our deck railing, shivering her wings and waiting to be fed by her brother (?) at the bird feeder. (We only put out a handful of seeds at a time.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Today the butterfly called the Large Wood Nymph - a medium sized chocolate brown insect with a yellow band on its forewing containing two eye-spots - zig-zagged along the treeline. And turkey hens with poults started to form flocks; 6 hens and too many poults to easily count foraged in our field. Turkeys eat both plant material and insects and the field was a sun warmed feast.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Today a Monarch Butterfly powered from milkweed to milkweed, touching each with new life, a single egg - stitching the field of scattered milkweed into a monarch nursery.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A brief outing to the top of Black Mountain yielded many visual treats:the diminutive
cow wheat with yellow-tipped white trumpets; wintergreen with its dainty white bells; bristly sarsparilla still had a few flowers that hadn't morphed into one-inch balls of seeds (pictured);shinleaf pyrola; and one-flowered pyrola (or wintergreen, depending on which book I use). The tasty treat, of course, was a scant handful of sun-warm tiny blueberries. We left the rest to the birds whose scolding made us feel guilty about taking anything of theirs. Only two individual blooms of mountain laurel remained to be found on this last weekend of June when we have been accustomed to finding it at its peak. The day was capped by seeing a barred owl sitting on a snag just 10 feet into the woods nearly at dusk.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Today a roadside weed walk turned up such aptly named species as Rabbitsfoot Clover, Arrow-leaved Tearthumb and Blue Toadflax. Also to be seen were Blue Vervain, Wild Mint, Fringed Loosestrife and Pokeweed. Bassweed blossoms, the scent of which I find rather cloying, attracted a wide array of pollinators. And the showy pink of Musk Mallow splashed across the river bank.
It was one of those days too filled with life to ever really be reduced to an inventory.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Today the pale-lilac fuzzy flower head of Canada Thistle raised themselves above a roadside thicket - and the bees took note.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Today the first speckled orange flowers of spotted Touch-me-not could be found in wet shady ditches. Purple Loosestrife - rank alien invasive that it is - opened the first blossoms on what will be very showy purple flower spikes. And Canada Lily nodded, face earthward, a delicate orange wildling not yet trained to human fancies.
The cedar waxwings and scarlet tanagers were flitting in and out of the blueberries at Reed Miller'. Of the scores of blueberry bushes, four had ripe berries (It's only June).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In my field today Dogbane Leaf Beetles with their shiny green heads and thoraxes and their polished-copper toned elytra made sunlight dance on the Dogbane leaves.
On Black Mountain Indian Pipes looking too fragile to face the sun pushed up through last years leaves. In the mud of an abandoned Beaver pond, St. Johnswort crowded its 5 petaled yellow flowers into every available space. As a bonus, on the summit, the first blueberries were ripe; a sun-warmed taste of the wild which I sampled, while taking care to leave plenty for the bears.

Monday, June 21, 2010

In the woods today, the slender pale-green spikes of Northern Green Orchid glowed in shady seeps, and a Partridge blasted darkly from beneath a tangle of wind-thrown yellow birch. Meanwhile in the field a Milbert's Tortoiseshell butterfly bounced erratically from weed to shrub to tree, and along the brook the greenish-white flowers of Thimbleweed opened and Buckwheat hung its clusters of tiny white flowers on its nearest vertical neighbors.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I watched a robin fledge for the first time The momma robin stuck close by and continued to feed her baby even when it was out of the nest. That was a surprise.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dawn broke today to the raucous whoops of several begging Raven fledglings in the woods behind my house. The young ravens have probably been off the nest for three or more weeks, but they still expect to be fed.
In the afternoon, the first Horse Nettle flowers I've seen this season opened in my field.
And just over the town line at Sunset Lake a pair of Loon chicks left the nest. They swam near the adult loons, made short dives, and, when tired, nestled on the back of one or the other parent loon where they rode and perhaps napped!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The tiny purple flowers of American Brooklime dusted the rank growth in a nearby marshy area. And on a wet rock one of the Thallose Liverworts, Conocephalum Conicum, that looks like snakeskin and is said to smell like grapefruit, glistened wetly. Liverworts are thought to be the first plants that made the transition from sea to land, 400 million years ago!
Yesterday afternoon my attention was attracted by the flash of yellow ribbon in the deep shade of a shrubby area: a pair of sleek cedar waxwings were berry picking on (invasive) honeysuckle plants - alas.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Under the maple and ash, I found where an animal had been digging. Looking closer I realized that in every scratching there was a stem of a jack-in-the-pulpit. The bear had eaten each corm. The leaves of the plant were fresh. I wish I had seen the bear.
The first Black-eyed Susans I've seen this year brightened my field today.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Today the ditches along Route 30 were spangled with the first bright blue blossoms of Chickory, while in my field the low, dangling, brown-centered yellow flowers of Strawberry-Tomato opened deep in the grasses and weeds.

Monday, June 14, 2010

In the ditches and fields Common Mullein with its flannel-soft fuzzy leaves and its tall spike of showy yellow flowers is in bloom. And in the woods and along the field edges the brown, eye-spot patterned butterfly known as the Little Wood Satyr is darting and dashing boldly around limbs and grass stems and weeds.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Today the small waxy-white low growing flowers of Pyrola started to open as did the showy yellow head-high flowers of Common Evening Primrose.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Partridgeberry is starting to flower as is Meadowsweet. Bright yellow Bullhead-Lilies rest like multiple solar discs on the watery horizon of nearby ponds.
I left my house at 7:30 AM in the mist and was greeted by a cacophony of sounds from the wood thrush, hermit thrush, to the veery. I was grateful to live in Dummerston, and I felt that way at last night's selectboard's meeting.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cedar Waxwings were feeding on half ripe Shad berries this morning. Moneywort and Whorled Loosestrife both started to flower. And in the fields one of the Fritillary butterflies - perhaps the one named Aphrodite - sampled a grand array of wildflowers.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Right outside my front door I have a small wood shed that lies alongside the outside of the building. Two months ago I noticed that a bird was building a nest on a beam in the shed, four feet from my front door. I thought she'd decide to move when she realized how close she was, but no.

There are now four little babies growing fast in that nest! Anyone want to tell me what kind of birds they are?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

This morning, adult Red-bellied Woodpeckers fed begging fledglings in a tree outside my kitchen window. Red-bellied fledglings have brown heads for a few weeks before slowly molting into bright red adult head colors.
I'm also reporting a plant oddity I stumbled upon recently. An albino Common Milkweed - a plant lacking chlorophyl. I would guess this plant to be a genetic dead end, but for it's brief season it has its own odd beauty.
Research indicates that albino plants may live as parasites on other plants, stealing nutrients through their root system.
This picture gives a better idea of the oddness of this plant than wolrds could ever convey.

Friday, June 4, 2010

In a wet meadow, Creeping Buttercup, identifiable by the pale blotches on its leaves, is starting to flower. Maiden Pink has taken over a swath of my back lawn. And every ditch and swale is filled to water level with Forget-Me-Nots.
Summer is here.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

In my field the pale pink , bell-like, fragrant little flower of the Spreading Dogbane were opening today. Dogbane is a great insect attractant; butterlies, moths, bees and flies swarm to it. Along the road, Bladder Campion with its odd melon-like calyx sacs and its deeply divided white petals was putting on a show. And what I tentatively identified as Spring Forget-Me-Not - a white variety of the familiar sky blue forget-me-nots cast me an hour of research, as I had never before heard of white forget-me-nots.
After lunch, I wandered the fields with the tart sweet juice of tiny sun warmed strawberries on my tongue; a fine undomesticated tonic, one that can't be purchased.
Go to my blog and read about a dragonfly being born (May 31).

Also the search for a rare violet in Vernon. (June 2).


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It is the time of year for woodpeckers to fledge young. This morning, just up the road from my house, Hairy Woodpecker nestlings begged vociferously but invisibly from deep within their nest cavity. An anxious adult Hairy Woodpecker hitching around the trunk of a nearby tree confirmed the identity of these unseen and very unmusical chorusers.