Spring Greens

As I chase Spring in search of wildflowers, critters and other natural phenomena, I am reminded of something special that is often a backdrop for more popular subjects rather than the main attraction. Artists and photographers know it well, and they also know the challenge of capturing its stunning, ephemeral beauty at the right time and place. I’m referring to the palette of fresh, spring greens that appears as plants emerge from dormancy.

These images, in chronological order over a period of about two weeks, are my most recent attempt to capture “green-up” in Central New York.

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Aspen clone (May 4)

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Wild apple tree bloom and woody plant leaf development (1 of 2; May 10)

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Dairy farm (May12)

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Sugar maple foliage (May 14)

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Canada geese in a field of barley (a gang of newly hatched goslings at her feet; May 15)

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Sugar maple form and foliage (May 16)

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Red oak flowers and foliage (May 17)

Photos by NB Hunter (May 4 – 16, 2017). © 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.

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American Beech leaf, long dead but refusing to fall

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Strands of moss suspended from a fallen tree limb

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

“Abandoned”

Many of my hikes involve abandoned places where some evidence of past land use practices remains.

Cedar posts, porcelain electric fence insulators and rusty wire persist along the boundaries of abandoned farms. Grain fields and pastures have given way to brush lots and lawns, and in many cases these weathered artifacts are the main evidence of an era when working farms prevailed.

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Most of the old railroads are gone but the beds were built to last. Where feasible, the rail corridors have been adopted by local conservation groups and transformed into an impressive network of multi-use trails.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Wildflower Practice!?

Despite the warm, moist conditions, my woodlot is devoid of wildflowers. It’s too early, and the cold, snowy weather moving in this direction will hold things up a bit longer.  Under the circumstances, I was ecstatic over this brightly colored macro opportunity, discovered while working in the woods:

Cup fungus on a fallen branch

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Photo by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.