First Snow!

Saturday delivered a light blanket of snow to our area.

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

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

It now looks wintery.  View the countdown to the winter solstice 2017.

I visited Shenantaha Creek Park in the Town of Malta.  The nature trail along Ballston Creek (also named Shenantaha by the Iroqouis, meaning “deer water”) offers several scenic views from the trail atop the bluff along portions of this creek.

View of Ballston Creek from trail atop cliff

Trail through woodland along stone wall

View of Ballston Creek from trail atop cliff

Shale bedrock-lined ravine

Looking upstream along Ballston Creek from where trail descends into flooplain forest

View of floodplain forest (Zim Smith Trail along top of high ridge in distant background)

Panoramic view of Ballston Creek from trail through floodplain forest

In addition to enjoying the beautiful woodland scenes along this trail, I also took the opportunity to do a little winter botanizing, which is more like forensic botanizing in that you look for plant features (such as seed pods or branching patterns) that help distinguish a particular species.

See what I found –

Maple-leaved Viburnum

Shagbark Hickory

Hairy White Old-field Aster

Thimbleweed

Selfheal

Common Mullein

Hawthorn

Christmas Fern

Which reminds me…it’s beginning to look a lot like…(listen)!

Happy trails!

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Forensic Botanizing: Woodland Forbs

On this Christmas Day, I visited the Woodcock Preserve in the Town of Clifton Park.  I was rewarded by spotting this Barred Owl (not a great image, but you can find it near the middle of this photo).

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

I had also viewed this owl in practically the same spot during my hike here on New Year’s Day to begin 2016.

As I continued my hike, I chose to wander along the Blue Trail since this portion of the preserve is open at this time of year.

Blue Trail trailhead - Woodcock Preserve

Blue Trail trailhead – Woodcock Preserve

My hike inspired me to offer you a winter plant ID quiz.  To identify each plant, simply click on “Answer” beneath each image.  Have fun!

Wishing all a very Merry Christmas!  Here’s hoping everyone enjoys happy trails in the New Year.

Christmas Fern

Christmas Fern