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!

Invasive Species Awareness Week

In recognition of New York’s Invasive Species Awareness Week (July 8-14), I have prepared a compilation about how to identify (including color photographs and brief ID tips) a number of species of invasive plants at each of two local preserves:

  1. Fox Preserve (located in Town of Colonie) – view the compilation
  2. Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve (located in Town of Clifton Park) – view the compilation

Each compilation includes:

  • list of observed species (including information describing flowers, leaves, and other plant characteristics as well as when each blooms and where each can be found at that preserve)
  • color photographs and brief ID tips

The compilation for Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve also includes a list of links to other websites with information on how to control or eradicate each listed species.

Hope you find these compilations helpful.

Also, please join me this week for a walk to identify invasive species at (1) Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve (6pm on July 12) and (2) Fox Preserve (9am on July 13) – more info regarding each walk is available on my Events page.  I hope you’ll join me!

Happy trails!

View new content for Area Nature Preserves, Parks and Trails

I have added more content to this blog, namely –

  1. a page entitled “Settlers Hill Natural Area” that features information and photos of this multi-use trail system in the Town of Clifton Park; and
  2. a page entitled “Summer Hill Natural Area” that features information and photos of this multi-use trail system in the Town of Clifton Park.

Please check them out.

Hope you find them helpful.

Happy trails!

Summer Wildflower Sampler – Community Connector Trail

Despite a forecasted temperature in the mid-90s and an even higher heat index, I opted to stretch my legs today along the Community Connector Trail in the Towns of Clifton Park and Halfmoon.  Beginning from the Town of Halfmoon end, I continued my wildflower inventory by covering the eastern half of this trail.  I was pleased to discover several species to add to my list and enjoyed seeing a multitude of colorful blooms.  Fortunately, the heat has not yet stressed the plants.

Here’s a sample of what I observed –

Fringed Loosestrife

Canada Lily (orange variety)

Creeping Bellflower

Pale Umbrellawort

Swamp Milkweed

Enchanter’s Nightshade

White Vervain

White Avens

Common Mullein

Cow Vetch

Red Baneberry berries

Yellow Sweetclover

White Sweetclover

Moneywort (invasive)


Tall Meadow Rue

Blue Vervain

Garden Loosestrife (invasive)


Rough Cinquefoil


Canada Thistle (invasive)

Bull Thistle

American Basswood

Flowering Rush (invasive)

Canada Lily (yellow variety)


SUPPLEMENTAL UPDATE (7/1/2018):  I returned to inventory the western half of this trail and observed these additional blooms –

Swamp Rose


Spotted Knapweed (invasive)

Please join me Thursday evening, July 12, for a walk to identify invasive species at the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve – we will see many of the “invasive” plants noted above during that walk.  We’ll begin promptly at 6pm from the parking lot adjacent to the Whipple Bridge at the main entrance to the preserve, located at the intersection of Riverview Road and Van Vranken Road, and then take a short hike through a portion of this preserve, which will go along a segment of the Community Connector Trail.  This event is in recognition of New York Invasive Species Awareness Week, July 8-14, 2018.  I hope you’ll join me.

Happy trails!