Despite the weekly snowstorms this month, 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 two new wildflower field guides and updated/expanded another; 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.
With the passing of last week’s polar vortex and before this week’s rainfall, I thought today would be my best chance to get out and do a little cross-country skiing; my first time in the New Year.
I selected Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve in the Town of Clifton Park. I parked at the end of Ferry Drive because I wanted to principally ski along the Community Connector Trail and the small parking lot at the other end of this trail in the Town of Halfmoon was not plowed.
Others before me had braved the recent cold and wind to set a very nice track all along my route. The result: excellent conditions!
Some scenes I observed along the trail –
Route through riparian forest bordering Mohawk River
Sign about Tommy’s Trail
Mohawk River overlook from Tommy’s Trail
View of Wager’s Pond (in background beyond trees in middle of photo)
I also saw/heard:
View the route that I skied today (approximately 9.75 miles in all).
I have added more content to this blog, namely a page entitled “Seasonal Wildflowers – Winter Plant ID” that features images of a variety of wildflower plants as they appear during the winter. Check it out.
Please stop back to see updates to this information.
Hope you find it helpful.
Earlier today on this Christmas Eve, I strolled through Anchor Diamond Park at Hawkwood in the Town of Ballston. I craved an extended hike through the woods and the crusted snow and glazed branches helped set the mood for a White Christmas backdrop.
Some scenes from my outing –
Lighted winterberry garland
The winter solstice will occur on December 21.
Winter is a great time for birdwatching from the comfort of your own home. Consider putting up a few bird feeders. For more info about winter bird feeding, please view my prior post. Winter is also an excellent time to learn about animal tracks. View this guide to winter tracks.
The arrival of this new season will mark the return of the shortest days of the entire year. We should all be prepared to make the most of the daylight hours available.
Here is a list of winter outdoor activities to consider:
- Winter Solstice in the Pine Bush: December 21, 2017
- Red Oak Ridge and Spring Overlook Hike: December 22, 2017
- Wild about Winter: December 23, 2017
- Howe Caverns Family Flashlight Tour: December 24, 2017
- Cookie Burner Stroll: December 26, 2017
- Winter Birds at Thacher Nature Center and Wetland Hike: December 27, 2017
- Potter Point Hike and Family Moonlight Cross Country Ski: December 28, 2017
- Wild Turkey Trail and Signatures in the Snow and Hike to Historic Knox School #5 and Winter Outing – Grafton Forest: December 30, 2017
- First Day Snowshoe Walk and First Day Hike and First Day Hike and First Day Hike and First Day Full Moon Hike: January 1, 2018
- Stewardship Hike – Vischer Ferry Nature & Historic Preserve: January 5, 2018
- Snowshoe Walk and Mid-Winter Bald Eagle Survey and Winter Outing – Petersburg Pass to Berlin Mountain: January 6, 2018
- An Introduction to Snowshoeing: January 13, 2018 (1:30pm and 2:00pm)
- Winter Exploration Walk and Free Entrance Day at National Parks (go explore Saratoga National Historic Park): January 15, 2018
- Candlelight Ski and Snowshoe and Eagle Hike: January 20, 2018
- Family Moonlight Cross Country Ski: January 25, 2018
- Winter Outing – Albert Family Community Forest: January 27, 2018
- Stewardship Hike – Veterans Memorial Park: February 2, 2018
- Fort Edward Grasslands Bird Observation and Winter Outing – Kinderhook Preserve: February 3, 2018
- Winter Outing – Ingalls Preserve: February 17, 2018
- Animal Tracking Winter Walk: February 19, 2018
- Owl Prowl: February 21, 2018
- Family Moonlight Cross Country Ski: February 22, 2018
- Birding by Snowshoe: February 24, 2018
- Invasive Species Winter Plant ID and Owl Prowl: March 2, 2018
- Winter Outing – Grafton Forest: March 3, 2018
- Owl Prowl: March 7, 2018
- Family Moonlight Cross Country Ski: March 22, 2018
Saturday delivered a light blanket of snow to our area.
Read about how snowflakes form. View the science of snowflakes. View a slideshow of photographs of snowflakes.
Speaking of snow, here are some recipes and other ideas for you to consider:
It now looks wintery. View the countdown to the winter solstice 2017.
I visited Shenantaha Creek Park in the Town of Malta. The nature trail along Ballston Creek (also named Shenantaha by the Iroqouis, meaning “deer water”) offers several scenic views from the trail atop the bluff along portions of this creek.
View of Ballston Creek from trail atop cliff
Trail through woodland along stone wall
View of Ballston Creek from trail atop cliff
Shale bedrock-lined ravine
Looking upstream along Ballston Creek from where trail descends into flooplain forest
View of floodplain forest (Zim Smith Trail along top of high ridge in distant background)
Panoramic view of Ballston Creek from trail through floodplain forest
In addition to enjoying the beautiful woodland scenes along this trail, I also took the opportunity to do a little winter botanizing, which is more like forensic botanizing in that you look for plant features (such as seed pods or branching patterns) that help distinguish a particular species.
See what I found –
Hairy White Old-field Aster
Which reminds me…it’s beginning to look a lot like…(listen)!
Today’s sunny disposition beckoned me to visit Anchor Diamond Park at Hawkwood, located in the Town of Ballston.As a frequent visitor to this park and other area nature observation destinations, I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the visionaries, philanthropic individuals, and both the leaders and staff of local governments and land trusts that have enabled the establishment of this park and many similar other community assets throughout the Capital Region.
I also wish to acknowledge the many, many selfless nameless volunteers who have contributed countless hours of their time and toil to create and maintain the many miles of trails found at those nature observation destinations. Without every contribution from each of you, none of these opportunities would be afforded to visitors like myself.
To each and every one of you, I say a most heartfelt and grateful “thank you.”
Fruit of Common Winterberry
Happy Thanksgiving to all.