Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November Nest

We had our first real snow storm at the beginning of last week! There was a lot of snow and wind, and it was cold, and very beautiful. Unfortunately my old snow boots wore out a while ago -- new ones are on their way now! -- so we mostly just admired the snow from the cozy indoors. And then we went out of town for Thanksgiving, and by the time we got back most of the snow had melted. Even so, I loved seeing patches of snow still on the ground when I visited the Roy H. Park preserve this afternoon. The trees have dropped all their leaves at this point, making everything simply gray and green and brown... but I still think this scenery is lovely:

And spots of color are still hanging around, although they can be a bit hidden. Look at all the holiday-appropriate colors in this collection of strawberry and cinquefoil leaves lining one edge of the boardwalk:

Chickadees and sparrows and nuthatches were foraging all around these fields and woods today, and the bare branches on a lone shrub in the middle of a field revealed a perfect little nest left over from the summer:

The nest was so tightly constructed, and it was lined with what looked like the fluff from some plants' seeds (although this material was a bit sodden with rain). I don't have a lot of experience with bird nests, but this one seems to match the description of an American Goldfinch nest. How cool to think that a little goldfinch family might have had a cozy home in this tree just a few months ago:

Even on a gray, melting-snow day in late November, there are always interesting things to see outside!

Friday, November 18, 2016

All of Fall!

Well! I've been out and about in the past month and a half, and also working hard, and in that time: Fall happened! The weather report is calling for snow this weekend (!), so this seems like the best and last time to share the pictures of fall in Central New York that have been gathering on my computer since my last post. I missed this season deeply during my year in Northern California, so I tried to absorb as much fall as I could in recent weeks. Here are some sights from all of fall!

Way back on October 11, I was at the Roy H. Park Preserve just as the fall foliage was really getting going. I love seeing the trees make these waves of color:

A pair of White Cabbage Butterflies were feeding at New England Aster blossoms (Aster novae-angliae) while also making the next generation of butterflies. Actually, I guess just the one butterfly was feeding while the other was along for the ride. This whole process looks rather ungainly, but I guess it works:

All sorts of interesting fungi were sprouting up in the damp woods. This one log was home to at least three types of fungi, all with such different shapes and textures:

And this strange fungus looked like it was bubbling out of its tree's trunk:

A lovely little Garter Snake sat on the sunny forest floor near the path, waiting for the humans to move on:

A few days later, on October 14, I was back at another part of the Park Preserve, again marveling at the colors on the trees. Yes, we do fall pretty well here. I'll take it!

This was apparently a good week for snakes, because I nearly stepped on a Northern Water Snake who was basking on the path and looking way too much like a scraggly root:

The snake stayed motionless while we walked around it -- it was a chilly morning after all -- and I got to peek at its face through the grass:

In the woods, bright Canada Mayflower berries looked like little clusters of Christmas ornaments:

An almost-as-red dragonfly (one of the late-flying Meadowhawk species, I think) perched nearby, lacy wings against a lacy fallen leaf:

I'm always impressed that some insects are able to survive into the fall, past frosts and increasing cold. Several big grasshoppers were active in the marshy fields, and this one paused long enough on the boardwalk to have its picture taken:

On October 29, I got to walk in Sapsucker Woods, and the place was wonderful as always. The trees in some parts of these woods were bare by this point:

But other areas of the woods were still full and golden:

Witch Hazel blossoms floated over the path. How cool to see yellow leaves and yellow blossoms in the same day:

The view at the big pond was so still and beautiful:

A few Painted Turtles were out sunning, including this fellow with his impressively long claws:

And then, all of a sudden, it was late fall. On November 8, I was back at the Park Preserve, and the place was wholly different:

I have to say, for all the amazing riot of color in early-to-mid fall, I think I might love the muted colors of late fall around here even more... the floating yellows especially (are those birches?) but also the rusted browns and hazy grays and dark conifer greens. Ah, love:

The fields were filled with goldenrods gone to seed, here backlit for extra drama:

Even at this late date, a showy Meadowhawk dragonfly was still cruising around:

I happened to take a picture of almost the same scene at the Park Preserve nearly a month apart, and I love how these sights are both the same and totally different. Here's October 14:

And now, on November 8:

This place is amazing. :)