Early Spring Woodland Wildflowers

Sunny. No wind. Temps expected in the mid-60s.  The outdoors beckoned me.  What to do?

Without hesitation, I headed to Anchor-Diamond Park at Hawkwood Estate.  This new park (which only opened in late October 2016) is located just north of the intersection of Route 50 and Middleline Road in the Town of Ballston.  Later this year, I will prepare a page on this blog with more info and photos along its several trails.

Today, I continued my ongoing wildflower inventory and the property revealed another 10 species, increasing my total so far to more than 100.

Among those in bloom today –

Trout Lily

Wake Robin

American Fly Honeysuckle

Bloodroot

Coltsfoot

With warm nights now a given and with more sunshine interspersed with rainfall, we can expect to see a dramatic increase in the greening of our landscape along with the occasional splashes of color from emerging blooms as the annual spring progression gains momentum.  Please be sure to take time once a week to take a walk at your favorite local preserve, park or trail and keep a watchful eye as to what is next to emerge and begin blooming.

Happy trails!

Introducing Wildflower Information Stations: Shenantaha Creek Park

Before today’s rains started falling, I placed two Wildflower Information Stations along the nature trail at Shenantaha Creek Park.  For those of you who frequent that park, take a stroll toward the end of the nature trail near the park’s southern boundary (where the overhead powerlines cross the creek).  As you approach that boundary, you’ll notice (for the next couple of weeks) these signs off the left side of the trail.

Wildflower Information Station – Canadian Wild Ginger

Wildflower Information Station – Toothwort

If you have a smartphone, use your QuickRead bar code scanner to download info about each wildflower mentioned at each information station.

As the seasons progresses, one or more signs will be placed elsewhere along the trail to replace these signs to continue to educate visitors about other wildflowers that can be observed at this park.

This is a collaborative project with the Town of Malta Department of Parks, Recreation, and Human Services.  If you observe these signs during a visit, please let me know what you think about your experience.

During my visit, I saw these blooms elsewhere along the trail –

Dutchman’s Breeches

Wake Robin

Leatherwood

Happy trails!

First Post-Blizzard Bloom!

Today’s sunshine beckoned me to take a stroll along the Historic Champlain Canalway Trail in the Town of Waterford.  A number of little green leaves have sprouted up over the past week, but my sighting of these blooms gave me the greatest hope that spring is truly on its way.

Coltsfoot

These were the first blooms I’ve seen since the blizzard that deposited nearly a foot-and-a-half of snow on us in mid-March.  Now that virtually all traces of that snow have disappeared and next week’s temperatures may approach 80 degrees a couple of times, you can count on a rapid greening of the landscape to occur with many more plants unfurling their leaves and more blooms to come.  Stay tuned.

Happy trails!

Think Spring (and Sunshine)!

Would some full color photographs of wildflowers get you believing that spring is coming?  And that the sun may indeed shine once again?

How about adding a few wildflower walks on your calendar over the next few months?

If so, then please check out –

  • Early Spring Wildflowers
  • Wildflower Field Guides, especially my newest guides for:
    1. Ashford Glen Preserve (Town of Colonie),
    2. Bauer Environmental Park (Town of Colonie),
    3. Old Iron Spring Fitness Trail (Town of Ballston),
    4. Peter Desrochers Memorial Country Knolls Trails (Town of Clifton Park), and
    5. Zim Smith Trail (Towns of Ballston, Clifton Park, Halfmoon and Malta)
  • Wildflower Walks and other outdoor spring activities

Happy trails!

Spring is Near!

Despite last week’s significant snowstorm reminding us all that it was still winter, the vernal equinox will indeed occur early this week.

With longer days to come, the new season will begin heralding the emergence of a myriad of wildflowers and the unfurling of tree leaves throughout our area.

Common Shadbush – downy underside of emerging leaves

Emerging False Hellebore leaves

Consider these activities as part of your adventures this spring –

I have compiled five new wildflower field guides; you can view or download them here.  I hope they help you learn about wildflowers that can be viewed at some of our local nature preserves, parks and trails.

Lastly, I have scheduled several wildflower walks this year, including those listed above.  Please join me.

Happy trails!

 

 

A Ski Tour of History Through Nature

Given this week’s bountiful snowstorm and today’s cloudless sky, I was obliged to go ski touring.  I chose the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve in the Town of Clifton Park.

I skied directly south of the Whipple Bridge toward the Mohawk River.

Historical marker – Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve

The trail turns westerly at a vantage point from where the Mohawk River can be easily viewed.

Woodland loop trail near site of Forts Ferry (Mohawk River appears in distant background left of center of this image)

That trail proceeds through a floodplain forest and connects with the West Pond Trail.

Floodplain forest

Several years ago while I was conducting my wildflower inventory along the trails of this preserve, the entire floodplain forest looked much like the above photo.  Today, there is a swath near the center of this woodland where many trees have been blown over or otherwise severely damaged by high winds as shown here.  The sum of these natural disturbances to this woodland has no doubt resulted in more sunlight reaching the ground surface during the growing season in this area.  Almost assuredly, there will likely be more species of plants growing along this portion of the trail now than when I conducted that inventory.

Floodplain forest – note many downed trees due to strong winds over the past several years

This trail then ends at its connection with West Towpath.  I turned left to continue heading westerly past Old Lock 19 to the towpath’s intersection with a service road for the dredge spoils area along the river.

View from atop Old Lock 19 looking easterly

Historic Marker – Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve

I then simply retraced my route back to the parking lot at the Whipple Bridge.

I saw/heard:  ducks, Canada geese, red-winged blackbirds, song sparrows, a pileated woodpecker, hairy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, a white-breasted nuthatch, black-capped chickadees, cardinals, American robins, American crows, and a tufted titmouse.

I also saw tracks from deer, mice, fisher, fox, gray squirrel, and rabbit.

In all, a pleasant ski tour of about four miles.

And, speaking of nature and history – PLEASE HOLD THESE DATES!  The Town of Clifton Park will be celebrating the history and nature of this preserve on May 12-13.  Stay tuned – more info to come.Happy trails!

First Blooms of the Season!

Following our string of 70-degree sunny days, many plants starting exhibiting spring-like behavior.  The forecasted deep freeze for the next two nights will likely dramatically slow everything back to an early-March pace.  We’ll see.

Nevertheless, those warm days (and a few nights as well!) contributed to the following blooms observed this morning along the Stillwater Multi-Use Trail:

Beaked Hazelnut - female flower

Beaked Hazelnut – female flower

American Hazelnut - male (left) and female (right) flowers

American Hazelnut – male (left) and female (right) flowers

Think spring!  Happy trails!