Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mid-Winter Orange Trail

So, I opted for safe and familiar yesterday and took myself off to the Whiting Road preserve.  And, as usual, I had a wonderful walk.

The trail was still and quiet.  I only passed a couple of other people the whole time I was there, and they were on cross-country skis.  Snow cover, deep and still, blanketed the woods.


The little streams were running fast enough that they were still open.  That means that all of the woods creatures still had a place to drink from.

There were deer tracks everywhere.  I took a photo of this track because the two toed construction was very clear.
Most of the deer tracks were walking tracks, but I did see this one set of tracks where the deer was bounding through the woods.  I wonder what startled it?  I suppose it could very well have been one of the dogs that people walk there.  They are supposed to be on leash, but I very rarely see one that is.
I have been wondering what the occasional splashes of red on the ground were, and speculating what kind of berries made them.  Yesterday, they were very numerous, and I finally made the connection.  They were sumac berries, fallen to the ground when the birds were eating them.  The color is so beautiful that I wondered if you could use them to make dye.  I did a little research, and, sure enough, sumac berries make a good natural dye.

These winged seeds, probably from some kind of Maple, are still hanging on, waiting until Spring before they spin to the ground.

For some reason, this picture of the snow-capped fungus, makes me smile.
I wonder if some little creature is hiding under this snow covered brush, safe and warm, waiting for Spring?
But, the greatest joy of this walk were the Robins.  The last time I was there, they were all in the Great Meadow, flitting from tree, to branch to bramble.  This time, they were in the woods, and they were much less timid.  I was able to get several close-up shots of them, and one thing I noticed was that they were all males.  That's a bit of a puzzle.  Do the females still go south, leaving the males behind so that they are there to stake out the very best places to build a nest in the coming Spring?
Bingo!  Robin and Cardinal in one shot!
And, my favorite shot of the day, this Robin all puffed up, insulated against the chill.
Just as I was leaving, I met the most charming lady, just starting her walk.  She had to be even older than I am, with one of those glorious faces that show a life well lived.  She was there with her old German Shepherd, who showed just as much character as she did.  Dumb me, I never asked if I could take her picture.  I wish I had, but, hopefully, I'll see her again.

18 comments:

Lori Skoog said...

Morning! You are a woman of nature! Love that little stream.

About L'orange...when I brought him home after he was neutered I showed him where the litter box was and he immediately used it. He is not that hot to be in the house a lot and goes in and out. Thor was gone for most of the week, but today he showed up again....darn.

Gary said...

Great hike!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Woodswalker said...

Glad to see you're getting out to enjoy this beautiful winter. I was especially interested in those red stains from the sumac berries, a phenomenon I have never noticed. Now I will look for it. Always something out there in the woods to enjoy. Those maple seeds still clinging to the tree are Box Elder (Acer nigrum), a variety of maple that many folks think of as weedy, but which is one of the most valuable for wildlife because of the way it holds its seeds through winter.

texwisgirl said...

I always love when you take us along on your quiet winter walks. I do hope you run into that woman again. She sounds like a kindred soul. :) Loved the robins - it is interesting that all you saw were males. Maybe I've got some of the females here - I hear them but rarely get to see them.

Liesl said...

I love all the pics but the snow capped fungi also made me smile!

Cindi said...

love the pics...thanks for taking us with you thru the woods!!!

Sharon said...

Great walk! Yep, I like the snow capped fungi myself! Nice to see the running water for the wildlife!

Jim said...

Simply the best walk I've had in a few days, Louise. A cardinal AND a Robin! Making me crazy!!

Tina said...

A robin- there is hope after all!

Madi and Mom said...

Good Evening Louise!!!
Your mind and body must feel energized after that wonderful, educational walk. Your commentary on your thoughts made me feel as if I were there talking to you,
Hugs Madi and Mom

Terry said...

"Snow cover, deep and still..." - you let me see it and feel it. Thanks, Louise.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Robins! Means springs on the way. Thanks for taking us on your walk, beautiful.

Dreaming said...

Oh, your fat little Robin is so cute. When I was a kid I though the Robins left the NE, even the males. I wonder if things have changed or if I was just a dumb, unobservant kid!

kattsby.com said...

Wonderful hike! Loved the fungus photo.

The other day, there was one deer right by the bird feeders in the park. A young couple, with a big dog, was there too ... the deer was like mesmerized by the dog ... couldn't stop looking at it. The dog was on a leash, but he seemed just a little curious about the deer...

Vicki Lane said...

Wonderful pictures! I too am charmed by the bracket fungus.

KB said...

I love the sumac berry dye. The snow looks like it's tie-died.

On our day that it was -30 deg, I saw a flock of robins. Unbelievable - they supposedly migrate to lower elevations here in the winter.

I love your cardinal photo!

Sorry about all the people with their dogs illegally off-leash. I don't understand why people don't follow the leash rules. The alternative is for there to be a dog ban... I know how lucky I am to be surrounded by land where my dogs are allowed to be off-leash. Thank goodness.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. It looks glorious there!

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

Hi Louise!! I'm glad you enjoyed your hike--Great pictures of the birds! When you mentioned the sumac berries, I remembered how my Mom and my Aunt made Easter egg dye from them one year many, many years ago...I'd forgotten that...Thanks for reminding me of that good memory!

Sheri said...

What a lovely walk. And those robins! I was surprised to see your stream running.