Monday, March 8, 2010

The perfect day

Everyone has their own favorite season and for me it is early spring when there is hope in the air yet still the possibility of another winter day. Today was the perfect early spring day. Usually I look for amphibians on this day but because of the hugh amount of snow last month the amphibians are a little behind in their breeding. So I set off to find snow fleas in the remaining snow along the Blue Ridge Tract road. I have never seen them and after reading blogs from New Yorkers about their finds, well I couldn’t be out done.

As I approached the wetland area I saw a pair of Wood Ducks fly up and move further back into the wetland. It was a good site because I had not seen any of them for several years. As I looked around I realized that the weeds and briars were all flat against the ground as a result of the heavy snow. It was now actually possible to walk along Furnace Run without getting hopelessly stuck in the stickers. So off I went to follow the run from the wetland, a first for me. The run curves and winds around creating beautiful scenes at every bend.
Here is a spot on a log where a squirrel stopped to eat hickory nuts. You can see the tiny teeth marks

and scat left on the tree.

The next really cool find was a Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus). Actually I should probably say the next “hot item” since they get up to 15 to 35 degrees centigrade and melt the surrounding snow.

Look inside; it looks like a furnace in there. Amazing isn’t it! I’ve always admired the colors on the outside and never photographed the inside before. It seems there is always more to learn, even about the plants and animals I am already familiar with. It is the same way with friends and lovers. Taking the time to look inside can be full of wonderful surprises.

I had been taking photos of some interesting wood textures like this one…

So when I saw a interesting white section on a fallen tree I moved in close to take the photo. To my surprise and delight I found SNOW FLEAS! I wonder if they are just attracted to the white surface like snow to get the reflective heat. I first read about Snow Fleas when I was learning about Wood Frogs. The tiny toadlets love to eat them when they first hop out of the vernal pool of their birth.

They are 1-2 mm long springtails and look like 6 legged Michelin tire men.
You can click on all the photos for larger views.

Well, at this point I was a happy camper and could turn back but the day was still young, even though I was a year older. Returning to the fire road I checked on the snake eggs

and bird nest I found last fall

and took another photo of the Tent Caterpillar egg cases on the cherry tree.

Assured that all was well, I headed on home.

Visit more Outdoor Wednesday.


Debbie said...

Spring and Fall are my favs, love your blue skies, we had them too today!~

Ellen Rathbone said...

You are light years ahead of us...although this morning I found tulips and daffodils poking out of the ground...about a month early!

Woodswalker said...

I love this time of year, too. The water, newly released from its prison of ice, sparkles and dances to celebrate its freedom. And yes, when the brambles are crushed to the ground, the walking sure is easy. Nice post. You have captured that pure clear air. And you found some snow fleas too!

chubskulit said...

You have a very keen eyes for those neat stuff.

Chilly Walk

Low Tide High Style said...

Spring is my favorite time of year too, along with Summer. Great photos of springtime!

Kat :)

Light and Voices said...

My fav is how you see details.
Joyce M

Thoughtfully blended hearts said...

This is wonderful...wonderful photos and the information is ...well ...super duper!!! I plan on returning to see more of your findings!!!

♥ Kathy said...

How totally interesting! Happy Outdoor Wednesday!

eileeninmd said...

Wonderful post, sounds like you had a great time enjoying the signs of spring.

Patriotic Mom said...

Nature is such a learning environment! Thanks for the learning, Joan

Ms. Bake-it said...

I too favor Spring as it represents a new beginning but I also love Summer. It looks like you had a great walk and discovered a lot of interesting things. I really liked this post and your perspective. I look forward to coming back and reading more of your posts.

~ Tracy

ksdoolittle said...

Oh, you are a woman after my own heart!! Last spring in Central Maine I spent hours helping the frogs, toads, and salamanders cross the road that first warm, rainy night. This is a wonderful photo essay! It is so exciting! ~ks