Red-Shoulder Hawk

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Buteo lineatus

 

 

 

 

There’s a nest right next to the Carderock parking lot, and I hear the birds often enough, but I seldom see them.  And when I do, it’s never in time to raise the camera to get a clear shot while the subject is nearby.  One of these days I will buy a more appropriate lens for long-distance shots, but in the meantime I have to make do with the stock 55mm lens and the crop function in Lightroom.

Flower of the Day: Skunk Cabbage

20150324-_DSC0015 Symplocarpus foetidus
Araceae

The earliest flower you’ll find in the mid-Atlantic piedmont is skunk cabbage, a low-growing plant of wetlands.  That reddish-brown thing in the lower right of the picture above is the inflorescence; actual flowers are within.  Not long after flowering, the bright green leaves will appear and then unfurl.  They can reach a length of 24 inches and a width of 12 inches.

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Here’s what the new leaves look like, with a spent flower next to them. The frilly looking plant to the right is cleavers, by the way.

 

Skunk cabbage ranges from Quebec to North Carolina, and north-west to Minnesota. It’s endangered in Tennessee.  Another related plant goes by the name skunk cabbage – Lysichiton americanus, also in the Araceae – but this one is found in the Pacific northwest.

Flower of the Day: Harbinger-of-Spring

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Erigenia bulbosa
Apiaceae

I started this blog on April Fools’ Day, 2014, noting that I couldn’t remember a colder winter.  Well, guess what?  2015’s been pretty damn cold, too.  The plants are off to an even slower start this year.

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But I did find harbinger-of-spring yesterday (it was my first Flower of the Day feature last year). Not a bad way to start the season. This tiny plant in the carrot family can be very difficult to spot amongst the leaf litter, as it stands only a few inches tall; each cluster of flowers measures only a quarter inch across.

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To put that into perspective, note the medium-sized maple leaf lying next to the plant.

 

 

 

Next up, a really strange plant that is, as far as I can tell, the earliest blooming one in the area.

So Close…

20150324-_DSC0110 Technically, spring is here in the mid-Atlantic piedmont, but it sure doesn’t feel that way.  I went out today in search of something – anything – blooming.  Found two aliens (lesser celandine and one of the speedwells) and two natives (I’ll post the other one tomorrow).  If the skies hadn’t been overcast this spring beauty might have opened up all the way.

Claytonia virginica
Portulacaceae

Pileated

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Dryocopus pileatus

“Pileated” means “having a crest on the pileum”.  A “pileum” is “the top of the head of a bird, from the base of the bill to the nape” (Merriam-Webster).  So now you know why this bird is named “pileated woodpecker”.

I was crunching along through the snow and ice when I heard a tapping sound. Looking up, I noticed little woodchips floating down to the towpath ahead of me. I stood there for ten minutes watching and listening (and photographing; I really need a better lens for long distance shots).