Thursday, June 30, 2011

At Last!

The first "real" Daylily has bloomed.  Meet Chicago Picotee Pride, the winner of the early bird prize.

Daylily Season is officially here in my little corner of Western New York.

Beaver Lake Nature Center

Yesterday, a friend and I drove to Central New York, to visit Beaver Lake Nature Center.  Neither of us had been there before, so we were curious to see what it had to offer.  We weren't disappointed.  The center itself is very nice,  with a little exhibit area inside that has many examples of the local birds and animals of the area.  There's also a little gift shop, full of all kinds of instructional and fun stuff.
There are sensory gardens.
And, gardens that are a riot of plants, both wild and domestic.
When we set off on the trails, we found them to be wide, level and cushioned with mulch, making them very easy to walk on.  This old tree was by one of the first trails we walked, the Woodland Trail.  I wonder how many years it has seen?
It's a lovely little lake.  Right now there aren't many birds on it, but, in migration season, they say that it is covered with many migrating water birds.  We may just have to come back and see that.

I was particularly excited because there were many plants that I had either seen rarely, or not at all.  Along the woodland path the Jack in the Pulpit was growing, amidst a huge patch of poison ivy, so I couldn't get too close.
I didn't even know that there was such a thing as Red Elderberry, but, there it was.  The first picture is clearer, but the color is off.  The second picture is a truer indicator of the bright red hue of these berries.

In places, the trails came close to the water.  In the water was a new plant for me, American Water Willow.  These pretty little purple and white flowers look like miniature orchids.  Water Willow is sometimes said to be a nuisance plant, but others say that it is a great plant for holding the soil near the shore together, and preventing it from slipping into the water.
But, it was the Bog Trail that I found most interesting, because except for last fall in the Adirondacks when everything was done blooming, I hadn't had a chance to explore one before.  I wasn't disappointed, and saw a number of new to me plants.
Arrow Arum Plant was everywhere.
Spatterdock, or Yellow Water Lily was a new plant for me.
You'll have to look closely, but, about in the middle of this picture that is a purple flower, growing out of the water.  I'm not sure what it is, though I'm wondering if it could be some kind of hyssop?  I know it's a poor picture to try and identify anything from, but, it was pretty far away and that's the best I could do. 
Per Woodswalker, this little flower is Pickerel Weed.

This native wild rose, called the Virginia Rose, was also new to me, though I knew of their existence.  It was wonderful to see a place where these delicate beauties hadn't been overwhelmed by that much more vigorous invader, the Multiflora Rose.
These two fish, lazing in a small creek that ran through the bog, were the only critters we saw.  Though, we did hear many different birds, everywhere we walked.  They were too shy to get pictures of, however.
This center well utilized, and there were many people and cars around, in spite of the fact that it was a chilly Wednesday.  I was very impressed, and we plan to go back again in the Fall, to walk the Lake Trail, which is three miles around the entire little lake.  In the meantime, I'll leave you with a question.  This little flower was in the sensory garden.  It was labeled as Feverfew, and I thought it was lovely and would love some in my garden.  But, when I look it up, the flower, while similar, isn't the same.  Can anyone confirm that this is, indeed, Feverfew?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


That's my fancy, expensive and squirrel proof feeder.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Beauty in the Big Field

Yesterday was a lovely day.  It was warm, but not hot, and the humidity was low.  So, off I headed to the Big Field, which last year I mistakenly called the Big Meadow.  Summer had arrived there.  The grass was tall, the flowers were blooming and the birds were everywhere.

In some places, the grass was so high that I could hardly see over it.  I was pointing my camera exactly at eye level when I took this shot.
Birds were everywhere.  From the grackles in this mostly dead tree.
To the robins, which I am seeing everywhere this year.
To this Redwinged Blackbird, singing his heart out on the wires.
Here's a little video of this guy.  Don't look at it too closely, because it wobbles like crazy.  I should have had a tripod.  I took it for the song, a true sound of the season.
There were, of course, flowers everywhere.
A little bit of Yarrow
A lot of Hoary Allysum
Common Milkweed everywhere.  Look at those lovely little individual flowers.
Bladder Campion, just done blooming and beginning to form its seed pod
Birdsfoot Trefoil
Sweet Pea everywhere.

And, Butterfly Weed, just beginning to bloom.  You can see from the little flowers how it is related to Common Milkweed.
Somehow, Goatsbeard, gone to seed, always makes me think of geometry.
Insects abounded.  The prize was probably this Eastern Black Swallowtail, which I almost passed right by, thinking it was just a dark spot in the grass.
 But, there was also this pretty little mottled moth.
A dragonfly, briefly resting on the sand.  For those of you who are new, this field is what we call "North of the Ridge."  That means that it is part of what was once ancient Lake Ontario, and the soil is very sandy.  "South of the Ridge" the soil almost immediately becomes full of clay.  The Ridge is the end boundary of the lake.
A damselfly on more sand. Such a tiny little thing, and I only got this one shot before it flitted off.
But, I saved the most exciting, at least for me, thing for last.  This is another example of how easy it is to miss things, and how it always pays to take a second glance.  I was striding along the path, trying to build up my endurance, which, frankly, stinks right now.  I saw a flash of white to my right, and didn't pay much attention.  Then, it registered, and I backed up and took a second look.  It was a milkweed, but a very unusual one.  To my surprise what I saw was an albino milkweed, there, right by the pathway.  It was very delicate looking, compared to the normal milkweed, but, correct in its form, just pure white.  Man, that made my day!

What an exciting day in the Big Field.  I had thought, when I took its picture, that the Eastern Black Swallowtail would be the highlight of the day, until I saw the albino milkweed.  Just goes to prove, I guess, that there is always something interesting around the next bend.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Morning Critter Spotting

"What you see, Becky?" says Rachael.  "Is it a mousie?"
"It's a chipmunk you silly things" Gina replies disdainfully
"Look, look, it's over here now!"
"Huh, what?" Leon says sleepily.
"Jeez, can't a guy catch a quick 1000 winks around here without being bothered by female chit chat?"