Winter Plant ID Quiz #2

Yesterday’s continuing warm temperatures once again ruled out ski touring.  So, on this President’s Day, I chose to enjoy the abundant sunshine while trekking along the trails at the new Anchor-Diamond Park at Hawkwood Estate in the Town of Ballston.  This park opened in late autumn 2016 and features several trails meandering through woodlands.

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View along Stonewall Trail (blue markers) near far west end of park

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View along Stonewall Trail (blue markers) in hemlock grove near center of park

My hike inspired me to once again offer you a winter plant ID quiz.  Consider this the “final exam” for this winter!  To identify each plant, simply click on “Answer” beneath each image.  Have fun!

Please ID the two stems (left to right) in the foreground (not the one with leaves) - (1) Large stem along left edge of photo: (2) Smaller stem slightly right of center of photo:

Please ID the two stems (left to right) in the foreground (not the one with leaves) –
(1) Large stem along left edge of photo:  Answer
(2) Smaller stem slightly right of center of photo:  Answer

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Please ID the plant wrapped around the red twig: Answer

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Someone took the time to add this adorable little snow sculpture along the trail today!

Now that the plan ID quiz is completed, I saw two other things that prompted these two extra credit questions (NOT about plants) –

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What animal created these holes in the bark of this tree?  Answer

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What animal created the cavity in this tree? (Please also note wood debris at base of tree.)  Answer     View a short video of the making of a cavity.

Happy trails!

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“Snow fleas” and a couple of other trailside critters

With last weekend’s significant snowfall, I have been awaiting this weekend to get out and enjoy some additional ski touring for the season.  Unfortunately, since then the temps have been near or in the 40s and sunny days have taken a toll on all that fresh powder snow.

Nevertheless, I headed to Historic Champlain Canalway Trail for an outing.  No such luck.

I was greeted with this sign at the entrance to the trail from the northern end parking lot off Upper Newtown Road –20170218_103332-sample

So, on to plan B.  I drove over to the southern trailhead of the Zim Smith Trail off Coon’s Crossing Road.  Upon my arrival, two snowmobilers were reviewing the trail map and another pair of snowmobilers were making their way to the trail by way of shoulder of Coon’s Crossing Road.  After they cleared out, I skied westerly with a yet unknown destination in mind along the trail.20170218_111624-sample

I had not traveled very far and crossed paths with this litter chatterbox –

Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

Junction of Zim Smith Trail with trail at Ushers Road State Forest

Junction of Zim Smith Trail with spur trail at Ushers Road State Forest

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Nicely tracked (from snowshoers) trails winding through Ushers Road State Forest

Winterberry fruit

Winterberry fruit frequently found along all trails at Ushers Road State Forest

Old grove of large Eastern Hemlock trees

Old grove of large Eastern Hemlock trees near intersection of spur trail and loop trail at Ushers Road State Forest

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View along southern segment of loop trail at Ushers Road State Forest

 

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“Snow fleas” were very prevalent along the spur trail and also along the southern segment of the loop trail at Ushers Road State Forest.  Watch a very brief video from today.  (Read more about them here.)

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View along northern segment of loop trail at Ushers Road State Forest

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Young grove of small Eastern Hemlock trees along north segment of loop trail at Ushers Road State Forest

Grove of large White Pine trees

Grove of large Eastern White Pine trees along north segment of loop trail at Ushers Road State Forest

Young grove of seedlings and other small Eastern White Pine trees

Young grove of seedlings and other small Eastern White Pine trees along spur trail on the way to Zim Smith Trail.

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View along Zim Smith Trail near Ushers Road State Forest

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Panoramic view of south end of Village of Round Lake from Zim Smith Trail

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Eastern Cottontail Rabbit basking in the sunshine

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I had no difficulties maintaining my speed below the stated limit.

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Trailside amenity complements of The Mill on Round Lake

I saw/heard:  Pileated, hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers; tufted titmouse; American robins, white-breasted nuthatches; American goldfinches; black-capped chickadees; American crows; mourning doves; blue jays; red squirrel; Eastern cottontail rabbit; and a northern mockingbird.

In all, I skied to the Village of Round Lake (with a detour to ski the trails at Ushers Road State Forest) and back (with a second detour to ski the trails at Ushers Road State Forest).  What a gorgeous day to be outside!

Hope you find an opportunity to get outside and enjoy nature this weekend.  Happy trails!

 

 

 

First (skiable) snow!

At last.  The results of two snowfalls this past week accumulated a sufficient depth to prompt me to blow the dust of my pair of cross-country skis and hit the trails.  First outing of the season!

After considering several local trail choices, I selected Woodcock Preserve in the Town of Clifton Park.  These trails wander through woodlands and often provide wildlife sightings or other signs of forest critters.

I started by checking out the trail map, conveniently provided in a trailhead kiosk.20170211_110322-sample

View the trails map.

Let's go! Heading out from parking lot along White Trail.

Let’s go! Heading out from parking lot along White Trail.

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Making my way along north boundary (on right) and open marsh (on left).

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Critter tracks crossing Yellow Trail.  I believe these may belong to a Bobcat.

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White Trail nearing its intersection with Red Trail near west end of preserve.

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Making my way along Red Trail in northwest portion of preserve.

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Oval cavity in dead tree along White Trail along west boundary of preserve. This is the work of a Pileated Woodpecker.

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Entrance of Blue Trail off White Trail. Blue Trail explores the far southern portion of the preserve.

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A “grove” of dried fertile fronds of Sensitive Ferns near small pond along Blue Trail.

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Along Blue Trail at southern boundary of preserve.

I saw/heard:  American Crows, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmouse, American Robins.  I also saw tracks from White-tailed Deer, Gray Squirrels, mice and Bobcat (? – see photo above).

In all, I made four trips around all of the trails for a total of approximately 8.5 miles.  During my last loop, my smartphone alerted me about a winter storm warning calling for 10-14″ of new snow between Sunday morning and sometime Monday.  Looking forward to my next outing…

Happy trails!