Another early bloomer

Another beautiful sunny day.  Another hike.

This time out, the Zim Smith Trail beckoned to me.  I wandered along the northernmost segment between Overpass Road and Oak Street.  Again, I was serenaded with a wonderful chorus of bird (song sparrow, tufted titmouse, American goldfinch, to name a few) and frog songs (spring peepers and wood frogs).

Along the way I came across several small patches of this –



Another colorful reminder that spring has arrived.  Enjoy!

Happy Easter to all.

Happy trails!


An early bloom along the Dwaas Kill

The first days of spring offer little in the way of bright colors or blooms.  A few wildflowers, however, have begun to bloom and each adds a tiny splash of color in an otherwise vast expanse of beige, browns and greys.

While out for a trek in the Dwaas Kill Nature Preserve to enjoy today’s sunshine, I spied this shrub in full bloom along the banks of the Dwaas Kill –


Smooth Alder (reddish female flowers and male catkins)

The flowers (both female and male) of Speckled Alder elsewhere in this preserve were still in bud stage.  However, I did find lots of Skunk Cabbage and hazelnuts in full bloom.

Many species of birds were singing as well as a few spring peepers.

Happy trails!

Vernal equinox draws nigh!

Welcome to Spring!

(But, seriously, was there really a prior winter?!?)

Very early Sunday morning (i.e., shortly after midnight on Saturday night), the vernal equinox will occur.

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.

I have compiled two new wildflower field guides; you can view or download them here.

Here is a list of some spring activities to consider:

  • Butterfly House at miSci (March 21-May 1 @ 11:00 AM)

miSci (museum of innovation and science), 15 Nott Terrace Heights, Schenectady NY

Escape cabin fever, and discover hundreds of brilliantly colored native butterflies at miSci’s new indoor butterfly house. Discover Monarchs, Black Swallowtails, Painted Ladies, Tiger Swallowtails and Spicebush Swallowtails flying about (and possibly landing on you!) as miSci re-creates their habitat – the edge of an open field with flowers and trees. Cost: $6.50 +

  • Maple Sugar Open House at Five Rivers (March 26 @ 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM)

Five Rivers Environmental Education Center, 56 Game Farm Road, Delmar

Join us for an introduction to maple sugaring as you twirl a brace drill, pound a spile, inspect the sap flow in our sugarbush, enjoy the aroma of sap boiling down in our evaporator, take the maple taste test and select from a wide variety of maple products for sale.

  • Maple Weekend at (April 2-3) –
    • Kent’s Sugar House, 2529 Plank Road, Berlin, NY 12022

Come join us and learn the process of making maple syrup, from sap collection from the trees to boiling into the finished table product. At our sugarhouse, you will see our wood-fired evaporator with Steam-away in operation. We will have samples of syrup and our famous Maple Popcorn. In addition to syrup, we have maple cream, sugar and candy, as well as many other maple items for sale. Dress appropriately for the weather!

  • Peaceful Valley Maple Farms, 116 LaGrange Road, Johnstown, NY 12095-4031

Demonstrations of all it takes to make syrup: tapping, tubing, collecting, reverse osmosis and boiling. We will have an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast.

  • Wildflower Ramble (May 14)
  • Waterford RiverSpark Canal Festival (May 14 @ 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM)

Join us for this annual event as we welcome new and returning vendors to line the banks of the Erie Canal. Enjoy live music, dance performances, children’s activities, kayaking, educational walks and presentations and more. Cost: FREE ADMISSION

Happy trails!

Hazelnuts now blooming

Now that Skunk Cabbage is blooming, I was inspired to search for another early blooming species due to the continuation of recent sunny and warm days.  I decided to stroll along a couple of the towpath trails at Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve in the Town of Clifton Park.

And I was rewarded with these –

American Hazelnut

American Hazelnut

Beaked Hazelnut

Beaked Hazelnut

As you enjoy these colorful tiny blooms today, think about what is to come.  The nuts of both species of hazelnuts typically are ready for picking locally in late August or early September.

Your targets will look like these:

American Hazelnut

American Hazelnut


Beaked Hazelnut

Beaked Hazelnut

Each is ripe when the shell has turned to a brown color, which occurs before the outer husk turns brown.  If you wait to pick them when the husk has turned brown, you will likely not find any – resident critters (mostly chipmunks and red squirrels) will have harvested them before you!  However, do not pick any nut if its shell is green, cream or whitish in color – it is simply not yet ripe.

When picking them, I recommend wearing leather gloves because of the tiny sticky hairs on the husks.  If you don’t, your fingertips can become quite painful to the touch – it may feel like you’ve been handling fiberglass insulation.

Let your harvest air dry for several days.  Doing do should enable you to peel the husk off of each nut more easily.  After you remove the outer husk, I suggest that you rinse the nuts (still in shell) with water.  Then, let your husked harvest air dry for at least a couple of weeks before cracking open – doing so will help ensure the nut separates easily from the shell when you crack them open.

View nutrition information regarding hazelnuts.  Unfortunately, some people have an allergic reaction when eating hazelnuts.

For all of us who can enjoy these tasty nuts, please view these recipes for ideas and inspirations of how to enjoy them.

While walking along the trails, I heard a couple of spring peepers in the distance and one of the small back bays contained numerous singing wood frogs.

Happy trails!

First bloom of the season!

Today’s sunshine beckoned me.

I chose to explore Peter Desrochers Country Knolls Memorial Trails in the Town of Clifton Park.  If you have not yet explored these trails, I urge you to do so, especially while the trees are still leaf-free.  The views from the numerous ridgelines are all scenic.  A beautiful woodland with interesting terrain.

Along the Terrace Hollow Connector Trail, I spied my first wildflower of the season in full bloom –

Skunk Cabbage

Skunk Cabbage

Spring is approaching…

Happy trails!