A New Year’s Tradition

New Year’s traditions may be any of a wide variety of activities.  On this New Year’s Day, I continued one of mine.  I returned to Woodcock Preserve for what has become nearly an annual visit to start my New Year.  And, for some of those visits, I am greeted by one of its residents – an ever watchful Barred Owl.

Barred Owl near first intersection of White Trail and Yellow Trail at Woodcock Preserve.

View a past post regarding our prior New Year’s greeting to one another.

Read about these impressive birds.  The males have begun their annual courtship ritual of calls.  I heard one behind our home late Saturday afternoon.

May your 2019 see the continuation of traditions important to you and may you begin anew a few others.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Happy trails!


A (temporary) White Christmas

Today’s fresh snow beckoned me to go search for some wintry Christmas scenes, even if in miniature – and fleetingly temporary.

I first visited Dwaas Kill Nature Preserve in the Town of Clifton Park.  After strolling along the Long Kill Loop (orange trail), I wandered along the green spur trail and found this view of the Dwaas Kill.

During my outing, I observed these little scenes, each of which helped me see that – at least briefly this morning – we were indeed enjoying a White Christmas (eve) –

Speckled Alder “cone” (female catkin)

Snow on Eastern White Pine – look closely for individual flakes

Pipsissewa with dried flower stalk

Eastern Hemlock

“Forest” of moss sporophytes

Princess Pine (Lycopodium obscurum)

I then visited Ushers Road State Forest, located in the Towns of Halfmoon and Clifton Park.  Slowly walking through the hemlock grove, …

Eastern Hemlock grove

… I continued by search of more miniature scenes before the snow cover disappeared in the sunshine that was now shining surprisingly brightly and uninterrupted.  Alas, the snow was quickly disappearing from sight!  But, I did get these few glimpses before the forest floor returned to its late autumn carpet of a myriad of brown hues.

Eastern Hemlock

Fruit of Asiatic Bittersweet

Princess Pine (Lycopodium obscurum)

Fruit of Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good “White Christmas” Eve!

Greetings to a new season – welcome to winter!

The winter solstice will occur on December 21.  Its arrival will mark the shortest day of the year.  With the arrival of the new season, we all should consider the opportunity to include evening outdoor activities as well as being prepared to make the most of the daylight hours available.

Here is a list of winter outdoor activities to consider:

If you have bird feeders in your yard, winter will be a great time to watch them from the comfort of your own home.  Here is a guide to the most common winter visitors to your feeders.  If you do enjoy viewing birds at your feeders, consider participating in Project FeederWatch.  For more info about winter bird feeding, please view my prior post.

Read about how snowflakes form.  View the science of snowflakes.  View a slideshow of photographs of snowflakes.

Speaking of snow, here are some recipes for you to consider:

If snowflakes inspire you, here is a short list of some indoor activities to consider:

Happy trails!

Time to Pick the Cranberries

Columbus Day seems to be a great time to pick wild cranberries; they seem to be fully ripened or nearly so every year at that time.  Since today is a holiday for me, I made my annual pilgrimage to the nearest bog in search of my favorite ruby-colored fruit – cranberries!  Read more about this unique native fruit.

My destination – a bog

After meandering for a while, I at last spied my first gem –

First one – a single Large Cranberry fruit.

Thankfully, I began to find a number of clusters of Large Cranberry fruit and Small Cranberry fruit.  Without moving my feet, I picked 64 of the smaller-fruited species in one of the clusters I came across!

Cluster of Large Cranberry fruit

Biggest Large Cranberry I’ve ever found!

And other beautiful red fruit –

Fruit of Smooth Winterberry – NOT edible!

And something altogether different –

British Soldier Lichen

Also came across some native fauna –

Black and Yellow Garden Spider

Read more about this common large spider.

After 3 hours of wandering and picking, I headed for home with my bounty.

My bounty = 8 cups

Wondering what to do with your berries?  Give these recipes a try –

Wild Cranberry Sauce

Wild Wild Cranberries

10 Things to do with Fresh Cranberries

Frozen Cranberry Mousse

Cranberry and Orange Relish

And, here are a few Cranberry Cooking Tips.  Bon appetit!

Happy trails!

Autumn is nearly here!


Chokecherry fall colors

The autumnal equinox will arrive soon – but when?  The shorter days and cooler nights to follow will usher in a new season of vibrantly colored foliage throughout the area.  Read about the status of fall colors.  Read about the dozen best places in the Capital Region to view fall colors.  See other leaf-peeping opportunities throughout New York.  View a quick guide to the fall colors of tree leaves.

However, I invite you to view fall colors…from a different perspective (slide show or video).  Most of these plants can be viewed in your community, your neighborhood, even in your own backyard.

Here is a list of autumn activities to consider:

Happy trails!

Blackberry picking time is now!

While conducting my weekly wildflower inventory at Summer Hill Natural Area today, I spied these ripening blackberries.

Common Blackberry fruit

However, those pictured are not ripe yet – fully ripened blackberries are black in color, not red.  You’ll want to pick them – like any fruit – at peak ripeness for the best flavor.

If you find enough ripe blackberries to give them a taste test, I would suggest making a simple sauce to have over vanilla ice cream or pancakes or waffles.  If you are lucky enough to find a sufficient quantity to try a few culinary experiments, then consider these:

Bon appetit!

A tribute to Old Yeller

No, not the iconic movie.  The color.

Today, while continuing my wildflower inventory along the Community Connector Trail, it quickly became apparent what the color du jour would be for blooming wildflowers during this outing.

Thus, please take a peek at what I observed along the trail –

Downy False Foxglove


Common St. Johnswort

Fringed Loosestrife


Rough Cinquefoil

Wormseed Mustard

Fall Dandelion

Garden Loosestrife

Birdsfoot Trefoil

Black-eyed Susan

Common Mullein

Smooth Ground Cherry

Common Evening Primrose

Yellow Wood Sorrel

Bristly Crowfoot

Yellow Sweetclover

Wild Parsnip

Common Dandelion

Pineapple Weed

Smooth Sumac

Clammy Ground Cherry


Tall Buttercup


Sulphur Cinquefoil

Old Yeller.  Well, I think I just might be in the mood for a good movie right about now.  Going to go grab a bucket of popcorn and fire up the VCR (just kidding)…and grab a box of tissues.

Happy trails!