Thursday, October 31, 2013

Back into the woods again.



It has been several weeks since I have been able to go out with the Thursday Naturalists, and I have missed them.

Our destination this day was the Woodcock Preserve on Tanner Road in Clifton Park (NY), a project of Saratoga PLAN.

The weather this morning didn't look very promising and I wondered if the turnout would be small. I should have known better. Eleven intrepid TNs (Thursday Naturalists) showed up, eager to check out some recent improvements at this preserve.

Wildflowers are long gone now, but there is much to admire about the seed pods, berries, and fungi of the late fall woods. Above, this milkweed is waiting for a good gust of wind to help disperse its seeds.

On this gray day, the fruits of bittersweet glowed against the muted woods.

There were bright rose hips, too, from a plethora of multiflora roses.

I think this deep mauve cluster may be a Bunch Gall on a fading goldenrod.


Red oaks were plentiful, in all sizes.

The TNs thought this fungi was chicken of the woods, old and faded now from its original bright orange color.

We saw a number of very large trees, probably "line" trees which once marked property boundaries. The stones at the base of this tree seem to bear this out, the likely remains of an old stone wall.

This shagbark hickory stood out in the nearly leafless woods. Its fruits, below, were plentiful, but hidden, beneath the fallen leaves.

Hop hornbeam is usually a small tree, but in these woods, several, like this burled specimen, had reached a very large size.

Lemon drop fungus (Bisporella citrina) make a tiny dusting of color on a fallen log. But magnify the photo, as below, and you can see how they are actually cup shaped.


One section of the trail goes through stands of beech trees, still glowing golden on this Hallowe'en morning.
 
A pignut, from a hickory of the same name.

Ruth pointed out the apron of Anomodon moss on the white oaks, a common relationship.

We admired this shaggy bear's head fungus. Some writers describe it as looking like a frozen waterfall.

These are probably the seeds of an aster. How lovely things like this are, when you pause and look closely.

This tiny spit gill fungus has a memorable name: Schizophyllum.

An open space was populated with this frothy grass, species not identified this day.

Nor do I know the variety of this hoof-like fungus, with its faded blue jean-like layers of color.

Near noon, rain began to fall, adding a sheen to these blueberry leaves.

I headed back to my car and spotted a favorite of mine along the way: partridgeberry, so lovely and diminutive.

Our group stretched out a bit on this walk and I had moved on ahead with a few others. Thus, we missed the real hit of the day. Those coming along more slowly behind us found a very large garter snake, about two feet long. Unusual to see snakes out and about at this time of year. (My sister, a faithful reader of this blog, won't mind that I missed that photo opp. She's not a fan of large - or small- snakes.)

Now, where to next Thursday?

For information about nature programs and events available through ECOS, go here: http://www.ecosny.org/

For information about preserves and trails and other community resources available through Saratoga PLAN, go here: http://www.saratogaplan.org/




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