Friday, April 2, 2010

Spring Hike on the Colonial Greenway

Video of the trashline orbweaver I saw in Saxon Woods

For more pictures from this hike see the Picasa web album.

Marsh Marigolds Blooming!
It's a gorgeous day and I'm glad I got out to enjoy it. The sun was beaming down and drawing both fauna and flora up from the leaf litter. It was flora that I noticed first, in the form of marsh marigolds holding forth in yellow.

Trout Lilies Poking Up Through Leaf Litter
One of the most reassuring and satisfying signs of spring is the sight of trout lilies poking up through the leaf litter. Blossoms will come soon.

Young Leaves Unfurling
I don't know what this little plant is, but I welcome it to the world.

Cowslip Just Bein' a Cowslip
Cowslips are another familiar sight from the walks of my youth in the wet woods around home.

More Trout Lilies Being All Trouty

In between this plant shot and the next one, I took my longest stop of the day. I saw some plants I wanted to photograph, and then I noticed a tiny web glistening between the twigs of the small tree in front of me. I took a step forward, took a closer look at the sesame-seed-sized spider on the web, saw the telltale orange chevron on its ventral opisthosoma (god I love saying "ventral opisthosoma") and smiled. The adolescent venusta orchard spiders have left the leaf litter and are getting on with it. It's like getting reacquainted with an old friend.

I got out my Canon XSi with the macro lens and started snapping away. I noticed more and more webs and took more and more shots. Hundreds. Then I took some not-quite-so-close-up macro shots of a beautiful budding plant whose every bud had a brilliant red collar.

Then I noticed that the camera readout had a blank spot where the number of shots remaining on the memory card should be.

I popped open the hatch and sure enough: I'd forgotten to put the memory card in the camera.


...but here are some shots I took in South Mountain Reservation in Millburn last year, just to give you a sense of the tiny packets of negentropy I saw flaring all around me this morning.

Wildflower With Silvered Leaves
I haven't yet identified this plant. The silver pattern on the leaves is quite extraordinary--if I didn't know better, I'd swear someone painted each leaf with Testor's chrome model paint.

Blown-Down Sign on the Hutchinson Parkway
During the fourteen mile hike I passed, climbed over, and was forced to find paths around ten or twenty downed trees. This, however, is the most dramatic evidence of the soaking rains and high winds we've had around Larchmont lately.

I've seen millions of trillium in my day, and I'm reasonably sure I've never seen one like this. All the trillium I've seen have leaves of a uniform green. These have mottled leaves resembling those of trout lilies!

After a bit of Googling...

Holy crap! There are 40-50 species of trillium! I didn't know that! This one is Trillium sessile. The following is from Wikipedia:
Toadshade can be distinguished from other trilliums by its single foul smelling, stalkless, flower nestled in the middle of its three leaves. The three maroon petals, maintain a "closed" posture throughout its presence, the petals are occasionally pale green. The leaves are sometimes, but not always mottled with shades of light and dark green. Its species name comes from the Latin word sessilis which means low sitting, and refers to its stalkless flower.

Trashline Orbweaver
The trashline orbweaver has a distinctive appearance and behavior. It has a peculiar little "horn" protruding from the top rear of its abdomen; it has a brown speckled camouflage pattern like a quail's egg; it bundles its own refuse into a vertical line running through the center of its web; and, when startled, it shakes the web so that you can't tell the spider from the trashline! I spotted this little guy's trashline from ten or fifteen feet away.

Native Bleeding Heart
I'm used to the more showy pink bleeding heart, but this less flamboyant native bleeding heart is a joy to see festooning the forest with green and white.

Forked-Tongued Devil
I lay on my belly snapping away at this cute little guy for several minutes. It didn't back down easily; the reason I uploaded so many shots to the Picasa album was to show just how long it stood its ground and flicked its tongue at me every time I moved my hand.

Just before exiting Saxon Woods these two deer crossed in front of me and stood regarding me from a safe distance. They look like they're in mid-molt.


Susan said...

Great spring shots!! The garden here is blooming - let Grace know that her bleeding heart out front is doing fantastic! and the dogwood is slowly opening up. Once I get my shots from Puerto Rico up, I'll send you a shutterfly link - lots of lush greens and even a jungle dessert! (Will send you an email for an upcoming gig with Robin and Ed)

Susan said...

ps - especially love your welcome to the unknown plant - am using that as a poetic prompt...