Small, warm-water ponds are a nice change of pace and delightful mid-summer escape.
Adult merganser and snapping turtle at rest… young mergansers might be a meal for this snapper!
Last week I was invited to a private woodland pond to observe and photograph a family of beavers. There was plenty of time to spare in between beaver sightings and I soon became entranced with the cold blooded creatures hunting the shoreline and shallow waters. Most prominent were the bullfrogs. Dozens dove into the pond from the weedy bank as I scouted the water. Soon after I had taken a seat and steadied the camera, they began to pop up to the surface, bulging eyes announcing their presence.
Huge dragonflies were patrolling the waters with grace and beauty. This one stopped on a dime and hovered in front of me, seemingly to show off its amazing flying skills and pose for documentation.
An adult beaver finally appeared on a far bank. It had been foraging in a thicket above the water line and would soon be heading back to the lodge with a freshly cut tree branch to feed its young.
A conversation about beaver and the aquatic habitats that they create is incomplete without mention of the Red-spotted Newt. Two of the three stages of the complex life cycle of this salamander are dependent on clean, quiet waters like beaver ponds. The middle stage, an immature adult (“Red Eft”), is terrestrial. They inhabit the moist, shaded habitat of the forest floor and can be found wandering around at any time of the day or night.
I was invited to join a hiking group for a day on the Finger Lakes Trail in Central New York and promised to post some trip highlights. I’m not a regular distance hiker so, with a 5-hour hike ahead of me, I decided to travel light. I regretted that decision about 5 minutes into the adventure. There was a photo opportunity at every bend in the trail, but the forecast for a bright, clear day was dead wrong. It was overcast and misty and I really regretted not having my good macro and a real tripod in my pack.
Red Eft, land form of the Red-spotted Newt
The group, including the Outdoor Recreation Club from Morrisville State College and the Bullthistle Hiking Club, was interested in all things natural, but the theme of the hike was the overwhelming variety and abundance of fruiting bodies!
Coral Fungus (Crown-tipped)
Coral Fungus (Orange Spindle)
Coral Fungus (Crested)
I’ll finish the post with this image because it was new to me, the color is quite unusual, and — the common name begs to be published!