National Arbor Day 2016

In the Spring season my arboriculture activities tend to be a function of the weather: I prefer to prune trees when it’s cold, before the sap flows, and plant trees when the soil is “workable”. These types of activities are officially recognized and celebrated on National Arbor Day, which is the last Friday in April in this geographic region.

This year my “poster tree” for Arbor Day is a massive, open grown sycamore. American Sycamore grows naturally in flood plains and bottomlands. It, and numerous cultivars and hybrids, are also cultivated in landscapes where there is sufficient space for a very large, deciduous tree.



Photo by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

A Walk in the Park: Oxbow Falls

It’s early Spring and everything is alive and fresh in the morning sun. Let’s take a hike. The destination is a small, local park and the goals are bubbling brooks, tumbling waters, a small wildflower called Hepatica (that I often miss because it blooms so early)…. and anything else of interest!



Hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba; the common white variety)






Hepatica (H. acutiloba; the uncommon blue variety)



Trillium, Red (also Wake-robin, Birthroot or Purple; Trillium erectum)

Trail’s end. That’s all … for now!

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.



Woodland Details

So many irons in the fire – fox dens, beaver lodges, blue birds, wildflowers – but so little happening! When things are slow and Mother Nature isn’t cooperating, I often resort to macros. They fill the void, capturing and illuminating unseen beauty.


American Beech leaf, long dead but refusing to fall


Strands of moss suspended from a fallen tree limb


A cute and curious chippy, confused over the cold weather and its hibernation schedule

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.


Random Images of an Icy Spring


Balsam Fir on a cold, snowy morning


House Finch



Cottontail in a cold rain, looking for supplemental feed; nest somewhere nearby


Cottontail response to the rising sun: retreat cover



Goldfinches, molting into their breeding plumage

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.


Early Wildflowers: a Wetland Favorite

Having failed in my attempt to photograph a migrating Woodcock, I veered away from the wet thickets to a nearby hemlock swamp. I hoped to find something of interest in the melting snow.

As far as I know, Skunk Cabbage (Arum family) is the first wetland wildflower to surface and bloom. The flowers aren’t the main attraction though: it’s the protective hood, a shapely, multicolored spathe, that draws us into the muck for a closer look…and confirmation that Spring is indeed on its way.



Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.


Seasons at War

There is quite a battle going on here: winter vs spring, cold whites vs warm greens, punching and counter punching. Winter is losing, but refuses to concede.

The vibrant green shoots of wild False Hellebore emerging in a blanket of snow tell the story.


False Hellebore (Indian Poke) in a swampy woodland 6April2016

Photo by NB Hunter

Amphibians and Frozen Wetlands

Hunkering down on successive mornings of 9 and 14 degrees F, I can’t help but wonder about the impact of a deep freeze on the reproductive cycle of amphibians in shallow water, wood frogs in particular.


A Central New York wetland; April 5, 2016

I monitor a small vernal pool every year as the warm March sun melts winter ice and wood frogs begin their explosive breeding cycle.

I last checked the pool on April 2, just before the arctic blast and snowstorm arrived. It was a chilly, 45 degree day and the pool was clear of ice. Judging by the presence of several large egg masses, the wood frogs had successfully completed their reproductive cycle.


Wood Frog egg mass in a vernal pool; April 2, 2016

One frog, lethargic in the cold water, allowed me to experiment with light reflections and shooting angles.



When spring returns, and the little vernal pool comes back to life, I plan to examine the egg masses to see what, if any, impact the freezing temperatures had on egg survival.

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.