Another landscaping plant seen in many species and locations.
This plant has a natural very wide distribution, interacting with butterflies and other insects of very many species.
I have never identified this interesting tree from the Thorn Forest of Mexico's Pacific Coast, just N of Sayulita. Loarie may know, having been there
Possums are very common around here. This one walked into my trap, that I had set out to re-locate a skunk living in an out building.
Puff ball, olive green, one of the Lycoperdon species. These have persisted longer than usual as Nov and Dec have been dry.
This snake was coiled up on the black asphalt of the Blue Ridge Parkway near MP 164. I stopped and coaxed him out of the road. He defended his position for a while before moving off. I estimate the snake to be 5 feet long and a maximum diameter of 2.5 inches. The air temp was 45F, but the strong sun on the pavement probably made it much warmer there. No hard frost yet at this location. Many snakes die on the pavement of the BRP. I should have taken a picture before moving him, but I was concerned about traffic.
Black vultures have recently made this old, topped, dead pine their roost tree. There are two meadow openings in the forest nearby. Not easily visible in this photo, but one turkey vulture was hanging out with them. Both species are quite common here.
White pine is very common here, having been planted years ago for lumber. It is generally no longer economical to harvest white pine, so stands are becoming older and mixing with hardwoods. Pine needle drop, where the inner needles turn yellow and shed usually occurs twice a year. The roads and trails through stands of pines become pleasantly carpeted with soft and fragrant needles.
The black walnut is one of my favorite trees. This year they are producing a very large crop of nuts, the previous two years there were hardly any. This cycling probably serves the purpose of not allowing nut eating animals to breed up to match a steady yearly crop. The cycles of production of walnuts (natural, not plantation trees) seems to be 3 to 5 years at this location.
I first 'discovered' this wild flower last Sep. I watched the buds patiently for some days, but the flower never opened. Consulting a botanist friend, I learned that closed bottle gentian never opens. Bumble bees, the common pollinator, force their way into the un-opened buds. This adds a degree of selection as to which pollinators the flower will accept. You can watch a bee forcing into the flower on You Tube.
Photo by Elvira Muniz
I think I have the ID right on this, but I am quite inexperienced with caterpillars.
Photo by Elvira Muniz.
I am trying to ID individual turtles by their shell patterns. They have been very active, seen every where, and unfortunately on roads.
Photo by Elvira Muniz
Common in wet places, one of the many ferns in this area. I hope to learn to speciate them all reliably.
Photo by Elvira Muniz
The fall meadow is snow white in places with small white aster. Some goldenrod persists, but is going to seed. I plan to wait until end of November to let all the wildflowers seed before the annual cutting.
Heavy mast from the red oaks as well
This is a heavy mast year, with all the oaks dropping a large crop of acorns, as well as walnuts and hickory nuts.
The bog turtle is reportedly found only in Floyd Co, Va and two adjacent counties. Rarely seen, I rescued this male from the mouth of a dog and returned it to its place.
An invasive vine not to be confused with American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens). This has been a growing infestation here, difficult to remove except by hand pulling. I believe that it is crowding out native plants and vines such as Virginia Creeper which is very beneficial to birds
Wild strawberry, very common here. A sketch from my field notebook.
Wild grape vine is abundant all through the woods around here. This will be a big year for all components of mast. Grapes, apples, walnuts, hickory, and many species of acorns all seem abundant.
Apple trees are an invasive species to North America But unlike Ailanthus, Japanese stilt grass, and Rosa multiflora; the invasive plants that I work to remove, I can love the apple. I usually do not harvest, letting the crows, deer, and occasional bear help themselves. This year the apples are abundant so I have helped myself as well. There are commercial apple orchards lower down on the mountain.
The late fall meadow is heavily dotted with the yellow of golden rod, replacing the predominant white of boneset seen in July. This year seems to be a heavier bloom than in the recent past.
Probably an escapee from landscaping; I do not plant non native species. What constitutes an invasive species is getting harder to define.
Raccoons are common, eating the corn in my neighbor's garden, and being general opportunists. I use a trail camera to watch their activities. This raccoon resides in a bramble near the apple tree.
This fuzzy yellow larva with 3 distinct pairs of long black spikes is I believe the American dagger moth. What is unusual is that the caterpillar is feeding on Rosa multiflora, an invasive species here that does not usually have insect predation. I have saved the specimen and will observe if it continues to truly feed on those leaves.
This American Chestnut grows behind my house. It sets seeds every year, but they appear to be sterile. The tree is about 20 feet tall and has a circumference of 9 inches at chest height and is not yet blighted.