Summer arrives later this week

With the extended daylight that the summer solstice brings, it offers the best opportunity of each year to get out and enjoy the outdoors.

Driftwood Homesteaders: Cattail and Monkey Flower reside on muddy log along Mohawk River

Fawn along Wetland Meadow trail – Woodcock Preserve

Observe nature at a local preserve.  Listen to the calls and songs of birds in your backyard.  Go fishing.  Forage for some wild edibles.  Take a tour of any of the area bike trails.

Mohawk Towpath Byway history interpretative sign at trailhead parking lot

For more specific suggestions, consider these –

Happy trails!

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Spring Wildflower Sampler – Final Installment

With the days of spring winding down on a beautiful sunny day yesterday, I continued my wildflower inventory at Settlers Hill Natural Area.  This trail network is located in the Town of Clifton Park and it is comprised of two different segments –

  • East trail: Beginning at Gloucester Street, this trail segment heads south across Clifton Park Center Road, Michelle Drive, Waverly Place, Summerlin Drive and Avenue of the Oaks (twice) before terminating a short distance south of 4 Leaf Manor.
  • West trail: Beginning at either access point off Addison Way or Fairhill Road, these two access trails will intersect and then this trail segment heads west across Moe Road before generally heading south and terminating at Wildflower Drive.

Trail users were few and far between except for the resident chipmunks and squirrels.  Songs and calls from Wood Thrush (forests), Rose-breasted Grosbeak (forest edges), Pileated Woodpecker (forests), Common Yellowthroat (brushy old fields or thickets along edge of wetlands), Yellow Warbler (open woodland), Northern Cardinal (open woodland), White-breasted Nuthatch (forests), Song Sparrow (open woodland and edges of wetlands), Eastern Towhee (edges of forests, thickets, and old fields), American Goldfinch (open woodland), and Eastern Wood Peewee (woodland) illustrated the varied habits that I strolled through along my route.

This is sampler of what I observed blooming –

Partridgeberry

Foxglove Beardtongue

You’ll find all three species of Blue-eyed Grasses along this trail network:

Eastern Blue-eyed Grass

Stout Blue-eyed Grass

Common Blue-eyed Grass

Slender Vetch

Gray Dogwood

Wild Parsnip – CAUTION!  Avoid handling this plant; read more.

Lesser Daisy Fleabane

Daisy Fleabane

Horse Nettle

Common Milkweed

Staghorn Sumac

Hop Clover

Hoary Alyssum

Common Elderberry – Edible fruit will ripen around mid-August; read more.

White Avens

Whorled Loosestrife

Sulphur Cinquefoil

Maiden Pink

Selfheal

Smaller Forget-me-nots

Happy trails!

View the expanded page about Fox Preserve

On a recent visit to continue my wildflower inventory of this preserve, I compiled a number of photographs to capture views along the two trails within Fox Preserve in the Town of Colonie.  View the expanded page.

If you have an opportunity to visit this preserve this week, you’ll observe numerous Dame’s Rockets in full bloom (pink and white flowers) throughout the property, but especially along the latter third of the Orange Trail as it passes along and near Shaker Creek.

Stop by this property, owned by the Mohawk-Hudson Land Conservancy, to enjoy a picnic on the preserve’s hilltop overlooking the Mohawk River.

Happy trails!

Wild Strawberries Ripening Now!

The time is now.  Wild strawberries are beginning to ripen and if you want to taste a tiny taste sensation, then wait no more.  Best places to look for these itty-bitty crimson jewels are sandy soils in full sunshine followed by other open areas along the edges of woodlands and possibly sunny areas within woodlands.  Both the Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana; shown below) and the Woodland Strawberry (Fragaria vesca) commonly grow throughout our area.

Fruit of Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) – leaves are above the blooms/fruits

If you should collect more than a handful, consider these recipes –

Wild Strawberries and Cream

Wild Strawberry Cordial

Wild Strawberry Grog

Wild Strawberry Ice Cream

Wild Strawberry Muffins

Wild Strawberry Pastries

Wild Strawberry Tarts

Happy trails!

Spring Wildflower Sampler – Part 8

Having had taken the day off from work, I decided to return trailside to continue my wildflower inventory along the Community Connector Trail in the Towns of Clifton Park and Halfmoon. I walked along the eastern half (located in both Towns) today because I had hoped to see Glaucous Honeysuckle in bloom.  No such luck – I already missed its brief blooming period this year!

In any event, since the forecasted thunderstorms never materialized (thank goodness), I enjoyed a productive inventory visit by finding another nine new species.

I observed the following blooms today –

Rattlesnake Weed  (bloom) – one of the nine species I had not yet observed along this trail.

Rattlesnake Weed  (leaves – purple veins are this plant’s very visible identification characteristic)

Clustered Snakeroot

Sweet Cicely

Black Locust

Asparagus

Fox Grape

Smooth Solomon’s Seal

Common Blackberry

Carrion Flower

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

And, happy trails!

Spring Wildflower Sampler – Part 7

Despite heavily filtered sunshine today, the forecast indicated that this would be the only mostly rain-free day of this long weekend.  So, I seized the opportunity and decided to continue wildflower inventory at Settlers Hill Natural Area. This trail network is located in the Town of Clifton Park and it is comprised of two different segments –

  • East trail: Beginning at Gloucester Street, this trail segment heads south across Clifton Park Center Road, Michelle Drive, Waverly Place, Summerlin Drive and Avenue of the Oaks (twice) before terminating a short distance south of 4 Leaf Manor.
  • West trail: Beginning at either access point off Addison Way or Fairhill Road, these two access trails will intersect and then this trail segment heads west across Moe Road before generally heading south and terminating at Wildflower Drive.

Thankfully, the sunshine did indeed prompt a number of blooming species to fully open their blooms for easy viewing.  This is a sampling of what I observed today –

Thyme-leaved Sandwort

Prickly Dewberry

Mouse Ear

Autumn-olive

Common Barberry

Germander Speedwell

False Solomon’s-seal

Black Cherry

Yellow Wood Sorrel

Dwarf Cinquefoil

Common Buckthorn (invasive)

Nannyberry

Stout Blue-eyed Grass

Asiatic Bittersweet (invasive)

Wishing everyone a safe and very enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.

Happy trails!

Spring Wildflower Sampler – Part 6

Having had taken the day off from work, I decided to return trailside to continue my wildflower inventory along the Community Connector Trail in the Towns of Clifton Park and Halfmoon. I chose to focus on the western half (located in the Town of Clifton Park) today because I had viewed the eastern end of this trail during my last outing here.

What a gorgeous day!

I observed the following blooms today –

Dame’s Rocket (pink variety)

Dame’s Rocket

Bulbous Buttercup (NOTE:  The green sepals point downward along the flower stem.)

Aniseroot

Canada Anemone

Dame’s Rocket (white variety)

Early Buttercup

White Campion

Yellow Iris

Bird’s-eye Speedwell

White Mulberry

Cleavers

Tatarian Honeysuckle (one of three invasive species of honeysuckles found here)

Celandine

Common Lilac

Silky Dogwood

Happy trails!