“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!

 

 

 

Forthcoming Wildflower Guides

Given the near absence of winter thus far, I have continued my wildflower inventories at a few locations.  And those activities have me thinking about spring and the upcoming return of blooming wildflowers throughout the next growing season.

With that in mind, I wanted to offer this sneak peak screen shot of five new wildflower field guides that will be available on this site in March.  Each of these new guides will be in Microsoft PowerPoint Show format (ppsx), featuring easier navigation throughout each document and higher resolution photographs as well as additional information regarding many of the species contained in each guide.  Unfortunately, each of these digital files is much larger than my previous wildflower guides; thus, downloading will take more time.  Those new wildflower guides will include:

  • Ashford Glen Preservea-field-guide-to-wildflowers-ashford-glen-preserve-1st-edition-march2017-chokecherry-sample-page
  • Bauer Environmental Parka-field-guide-to-wildflowers-bauer-environmental-park-1st-edition-march2017-cranberry-viburnum-sample-page
  • Old Iron Spring Fitness Traila-field-guide-to-wildflowers-old-iron-spring-fitness-trail-1st-edition-march2017-fringed-loosestrife-sample-page
  • Peter Desrochers Memorial Country Knolls Trailsa-field-guide-to-wildflowers-peter-desrochers-memorial-country-knolls-trails-1st-edition-march2017-woodland-agrimony-sample-page
  • Zim Smith Traila-field-guide-to-wildflowers-zim-smith-trail-1st-edition-march2017-common-arrowhead-sample-page

Also, please check my updated status of wildflower inventories.  I will be adding one of those destinations (Anchor-Diamond Park at Hawkwood Estatel) as a new page on this site sometime later this year.

In the meantime, view my winter plant ID quiz.

Lastly, a reminder to keep a watchful eye for ticks.  During a winter as mild as this one has been, they remain active.  Last week, I found two while visiting a local preserve!

Happy trails!

Pre-Solstice Sampler of Trailside Blooms

Yesterday, I continued my wildflower inventories at Old Iron Spring Fitness Trail and along the Zim Smith Trail (that portion located within the Town of Ballston).  Here is a sampler of what I observed –

Purple-flowering Raspberry

Purple-flowering Raspberry

Common Milkweed

Common Milkweed

Sweetbrier

Sweetbrier

Staghorn Sumac

Staghorn Sumac

Hairy Cat's Ear

Hairy Cat’s Ear

Long-leaved Stitchwort

Long-leaved Stitchwort

Sulphur Cinquefoil

Sulphur Cinquefoil

Thimbleweed

Thimbleweed

Thyme-leaved Sandwort

Thyme-leaved Sandwort

Yarrow

Yarrow

Smooth Hawkweed

Smooth Hawkweed

Yellow Avens

Yellow Avens

Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan

Wild Parsnip

Wild Parsnip

Intermediate Dogbane

Intermediate Dogbane

Low Hop Clover

Low Hop Clover

Viper's Bugloss

Viper’s Bugloss

Deptford Pink

Deptford Pink

Hedge Mustard

Hedge Mustard

Today, I similarly continued my wildflower inventory at Dwaas Kill Nature Preserve.  Here is a sampler of what I observed –

Bush Honeysuckle

Bush Honeysuckle

Common Cinquefoil

Common Cinquefoil

White Avens

White Avens

Moneywort

Moneywort

Water Hemlock

Water Hemlock

Bristly Dewberry

Bristly Dewberry

Eastern Blue-eyed Grass

Eastern Blue-eyed Grass

Maleberry

Maleberry

Whorled Loosestrife

Whorled Loosestrife

Tall Meadow Rue

Tall Meadow Rue

Common Elderberry

Common Elderberry

Wild Garlic

Wild Garlic

Enchanter's Nightshade

Enchanter’s Nightshade

Smaller Forget-me-not

Smaller Forget-me-not

Motherwort

Motherwort

Stout Blue-eyed Grass

Stout Blue-eyed Grass

Happy Summer Solstice Eve!

As always, happy trails.

Blue Flag now in bloom!

To my surprise, I viewed many Large Blue Flag already in bloom along the northernmost segment of the Zim Smith Trail last evening.

Large Blue Flag

Large Blue Flag

So, if you enjoy seeing these large beautiful blooms in their natural setting, be sure to get out soon to do so!

Of the local destinations that I have visited, I would recommend any of the following:

Happy trails!

The cascade of blooms has begun!

The rainy weather and near absence of bright sunshine largely kept me captive inside this past week.  At last, the sun appeared on Saturday, and I spent the better part of it outdoors to catch-up on my wildflower inventories.  My how things are greening up!

I began my trek by visiting the northernmost segment of the Zim Smith Trail.  Not only was I treated to a variety of blooms, but I also added a few more species to my inventory list.  I then visited Old Iron Spring Fitness Trail and afterward rounded out my day’s assignment with a hike at the Dwaas Kill Nature Preserve.

Over the course of the day, I observed these blooms –

Foamflower

Foamflower

American Black Currant

American Black Currant

Swamp Buttercup

Swamp Buttercup

Red Baneberry

Red Baneberry

Field Pennycress

Field Pennycress

Ovate-leaved Violet

Ovate-leaved Violet

Toothwort

Toothwort

Golden Alexanders

Golden Alexanders

Dwarf Raspberry

Dwarf Raspberry

Golden Ragwort

Golden Ragwort

Wild Geranium

Wild Geranium

Garden Red Currant

Garden Red Currant

In addition, I also observed other plants in bloom; those included:

  • Wild Strawberry and Wood Strawberry
  • Wood Anemone
  • Hoary Alyssum
  • Common Blue Violet
  • Dog Violet
  • Japanese Honeysuckle
  • Coltsfoot
  • Small-flowered Crowfoot
  • Field Pussytoes
  • Apple
  • Henbit
  • Ground Ivy
  • Canada Violet
  • Early Winter Cress and Common Winter Cress
  • Thyme-leaved Sandwort
  • Thyme-leaved Speedwell
  • Pin Cherry
  • Celandine

Interested in seeing more?  Consider joining me for a Wildflower Ramble at 2pm on Saturday, May 14, as part of the 3rd Annual Open Space Day celebration in the Town of Clifton Park.

The months of May and June provide the best opportunity to view the most species of wildflowers in bloom.  I encourage you to find an opportunity each week over the next two months to visit a variety of local open space areas of your choice to enjoy the colorful array of blooms that await us.

Happy trails!

Reluctant bloomer

A sunny, but chilly, day.  I was motivated to go look for another sign of spring.

Since I am continuing my wildflower inventory of Zim Smith Trail, I decided to amble along the northernmost segment between Overpass Road and Oak Street.  With a somewhat brisk breeze, the woods and wetlands adjoining this trail segment were uncharacteristically quiet today.  No frogs and few birds were in a mood to serenade.

I found very few flowering plants.  But, I enjoyed my first sighting of the season of –

Sharp-lobed Hepatica

Sharp-lobed Hepatica

In this patch of hepaticas, this was one of only three whose flowers had fully opened today.

A few scattered Coltsfoot were also in bloom.  My biggest surprise was finding a single Wake Robin; while its leaves had not yet fully unfurled, they nevertheless revealed a plump flower bud.

This discovery yielded the hope and certainty of a colorful unveiling of the remainder of spring.  Enjoy the journey – and your own discoveries.  Happy trails!

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 –

Coltsfoot

Coltsfoot

Another colorful reminder that spring has arrived.  Enjoy!

Happy Easter to all.

Happy trails!