Wetlands and Fiddleheads

Although mostly cool, overcast and rainy, the month of May is yielding a rich assortment of scenes and subjects. Where to begin?! I’ll start with a recent trip to a small, swampy site where fiddlehead ferns and marsh marigolds were the dominant visual element.

A common wetland scene like this has marsh marigolds carpeting the low, waterlogged places, while dense clumps of cinnamon ferns occupy the high ground – raised tussocks of dense roots and emerging fronds.

Fiddleheads2May17#6902E5c4x6

Fiddleheads2May17#6917E2c8x10

Fiddlehead2May17#6908E2c8x10

Fiddlehead2May17#6896E2c8x10

Young ferns with developing fronds aren’t limited to swampy sites….there are many species adapted to almost any site imaginable.

Fiddlehead2May17#6858E2c8x10

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Early Autumn 2016

“Autumn is a second Spring when every leaf is a flower.”   -Albert Camus

In the fall we track the changing colors of foliage much the same way that we follow the sequence of bloom with spring wildflowers. Leaf peeping is a big event! Early autumn (late September and the first week or so in October in Central New York) is a time of excitement and anticipation, with everyone gazing into a crystal ball to predict peak foliage color and schedule outdoor activities.

A recent trip to my childhood home 400 miles southwest of here reminded me that wishful thinking has no influence on Mother Nature’s timetable! The river bottom watersheds in western Pennsylvania were still very green, leading me to explore the more detailed landscapes in front of my nose.

kiskiriver3oct165930e2c3x5

Kiskiminetas River, viewed from the Roaring Run Recreation Trail; Apollo, PA

spider3oct166039e2c5x7

Marbled Orbweaver spider, building a web

caterpillarmushroom2oct166070e3c8x10_edited-1

A tussock moth caterpillar on the move

After returning to Central New York, I began to see a bit more color but summer greens were still dominant. Warm temperatures, plenty of sun and the absence of a hard frost have resulted in a gradual transition from summer to fall, with a pleasing overlap of the seasons.

woodmanpond7oct166212e2c8x10

Woodman Pond and resting geese

ferns5oct166151e3c5x7_edited-1

Woodland ferns and a hint of autumn

chencanal7oct166257e2c4x6

Chenango Canal and the canal towpath trail

sulphur5oct166138e2c5x7

Sulphur butterfly on asters

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Fiddling with Fiddleheads

The developing fronds or fiddleheads of ferns are always a point of interest in spring. Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea) is an easy target because it’s abundant in most wetland habitats and the root stalks, fiddleheads and fronds are all prominent.

Dense clusters of fuzzy fiddleheads, each with a unique configuration, present one of the more pleasant spring scenes in a wetland habitat.

Fiddlehead14May14#052Ec8x10

Fiddleheads14May14#046E3c8x10

Fiddleheads14May14#057Ec8x10

Fiddleheads14May14#055Ec5x7

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.