Happy Mother’s Day 2018

StarMagnolia7May18#3276E2c5x7

Star Magnolia

Daffodil8May18#3294E2c8x10

Daffodil

RedTrillium11May18#3387E2c8x10

Red Trillium

Amelanchier12May18#3409E15c4x6

Wild Serviceberry (Amelanchier, Juneberry, Shadbush)

FarmAmelanchier11May18#3373E2c4x6

Wild Serviceberry in full bloom

Photos by NB Hunter (May, 2018). © All Rights Reserved.

Advertisements

A Wintry Spring Morning

After days of freezing rain and occasional snow, the expectations of a “normal” April day – wildlife, flowers, singing songbirds –  were absent. This macro of a Balsam Fir twig captured the moment.

BalsamFir17Apr18#2500E7c8x10

Photo by NB Hunter (April 17, 2018). © All Rights Reserved.

Robins and the Endless Winter

Robin5Apr18#1981E2c8x10

I’m seeing flocks of migrating robins in thickets and sheltered creek drainages. They’re back, but food is scarce in our snowy, semi-frozen landscape. The persistent fruit of staghorn sumac is a staple this time of year, for many species of birds. It is an emergency ration that helps keep them alive when winter refuses to let go.

Robin5Apr18#1985E3c8x10

Robin5Apr18#1989E3c5x7

Robin5Apr18#2016E2c5x7

Robin5Apr18#2021E2c5x7

Photos by NB Hunter (4/5/2018). © All Rights Reserved.

 

A Winter Walk (March, 2018)

Finally, after three storms and several feet of snow, the sun came out. I buckled up my snowshoes and set out to accomplish three things: pack trails for future walking and access to the property; capture some unusual, late winter scenes; and share this lovely late-winter day with friends who might be unable or unwilling to navigate waste-deep snow cover.

My woodland walk started at the house, followed a trail dating back to the construction of a small dairy farm in 1854, then looped back to the house. The adventure covered less than a mile but was nearly two hours in duration.

House15Mar18#0834E5c4x6

Home; the “1854 House”

AppleTree15Mar18#0837E2c5x7

A Wild Apple Tree

Trail15Mar18#0903E5c5x7

164 year-old farm trail with a packed snowshoe path in the center (1 of 3)

Trail15Mar18#0907E5c3x5

Chickadee15Mar18#0859E7c8x10

Chickadee feeding on White Spruce seeds in a windbreak/wildlife habitat planting (1 of 2)

Chickadee15Mar18#0864E3c8x10

Trail15Mar18#0901E2c5x7

Return trip down the woodland trail

AppleTree15Mar18#0840E3c5x7

Wild apple tree in snow and morning light; mission accomplished!

Photos by NB Hunter (15March2018). © All Rights Reserved.

A Pileated Woodpecker Up Close

A declining maple tree with a dead central leader was the stage. Our largest woodpecker, hammering away in decayed wood in search of ants and other insects, provided the entertainment. I see or hear these large, crow-size woodpeckers almost daily, but this was a rare opportunity for me to see one up close, one that was more interested in carpenter ants than the human audience.

The cavity and foraging bird were clearly visible from the edge of my friends driveway. Unsure of the bird’s reaction to my presence, I started shooting immediately.

PileatedWp16June17#9584E2c4x6

PileatedWp16June17#9586E2c5x7

Feeding was nearly continuous and moments like this were few and far between. The red stripe on the cheek told us this was a male.

PileatedWp16June17#9570E5c5x7

 

PileatedWp16June17#9539E5c8x10

Excavations by pileated woodpeckers leave cavities in dead and dying trees that are critical habitat for many species of wildlife. Given the location, this exquisite cavity might be claimed by squirrels or owls. Arboriculture (landscape/residential tree care) practices generally call for the removal of dead and dying trees or tree parts in order to reduce hazards and maintain tree health and longevity. However, in cases where wildlife habitat is a priority and the hazard assessment is low, benign neglect might be a viable option.

PileatedExcavation#1 Photos by NB Hunter. ©All Rights Reserved.

The Joy of Spring

SkunkCabbage17May17#8054E2c8x10

Skunk Cabbage leaves unfolding

Chipmunk28May17#8717E2c8x10

Chippy after a field trip to the bird feeder

NSpruce15May17#7848E2c5x7

The female flower of a Norway Spruce tree

EurasianHoneysuckle27May17#8680E2c4x6

Eurasian honeysuckle, an invasive shrub, in full bloom

DoeAppleTree24May17#8634E2c5x7

A mature doe reaching above my protective fencing to nibble on the new growth of a young apple tree; deer are losing their winter coats and look pretty ragged

Morel29May17#8775E5c4x6

Morels in a maple-hemlock woodlot

RedSquirrel27May17#8709E2c8x10

A fat and happy Red Squirrel framed in dandelion seed heads

Osprey10May17#7514E5c4x6

Osprey after an incredible 30 meter dive into the shallow water of a large pond

Gone fishing………………………………….

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Tree Snags for Wildlife

This is a story about the management of a landscape tree in decline, management with an underlying theme of benign neglect.

Last summer I heard the unmistakable sound of a Pileated Woodpecker hammering on a large old white pine tree near the edge of the lawn. I was thrilled to see our largest woodpecker so close to home, but also knew that its presence was a sign of a tree in trouble. Sure enough, there was advanced decay at the base of the tree and the Pileated was foraging on carpenter ants. The probability of tree failure and subsequent damage to nearby targets was high. The White Pine was a “hazard tree” and had to be removed.

My contract with a professional arborist for removal included an unusual request. I wanted to minimize the hazard – but leave a large snag for wildlife.

WhitePineMay2017#8554Ec8x10

The decision to create a snag payed dividends almost immediately. A Pileated Woodpecker is a frequent visitor, foraging around new wounds as well as old ones.

PileatedWp18May17#8133E2c4x6

PileatedWP22May17#8551E2c8x10

Pitch oozing from the fresh wounds on a warm day provided an unplanned photo opportunity and aesthetic experience. The fascinating world of magnified pitch droplets kept me busy long after the woodpecker had left the scene!

SapWP21May17#8505E2c4x6

Pine pitch droplet, fly and spider; the droplet is about 1/8th inch across

 

SapWP21May17#8499E2c8x10

Sap19May17#8217E2c5x7

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.