January 2020: Describe your walk by adding a comment below

Each time you go out and make observations for this project, describe your walk by adding a comment to this post. Include the date, distance walked, and categories that you used for this walk.

Suggested format:
Date. Place. Distance walked today. Total distance for this project.
Categories.
Brief description of the area, what you saw, what you learned, who was with you, or any other details you care to share.

Posted by erikamitchell erikamitchell, January 02, 2020 23:40

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January 1, 2020. Anse Noir, Martinique. 1 mile today
Categories: birds, arthropods, underwater

This morning I took a walk up to the Anse Noir parking lot in search of hummingbirds. My first bird of the new decade was a Carib grackle on the beach, then a scaly breasted thrasher over the stairs. Around the parking lot, I found a Lesser Antillean bulfinch, some black-faced grassquits, a crested hummingbird, a magnificent frigatebird, a purple throated Carib, and a gray kingbird. I also noted some giant (2" long?) wasps nectaring on some acacia flowers. And some charming silver argiope spiders in the grass. After breakfast, my husband and I took a kayak out to a cove just to the east of Anse Noir for some snorkeling. I found some Christmas tree worms, seafans, striped butterflyfish, blackbar soldierfish, redlip blenny, brown chromis, sand diver, parrotfish, damselfish, pufferfish, scorpionfish, eel, orange starfish, sun anemones, barrel corals, blue stony coral, green stony coral, white stony coral, brown staghorn coral, a red thing (life?) on top of a seafan, trumpetfish, brown soft coral, white spaghetti worms, a West Indian sea egg (urchin), bright red feather duster worm, and a flamingo tongue snail. On our way back from the cove we saw what appeared to be feral goats along the shore, miles from habitation. In the evening, I found new-to-me yellow and black beetle at the dinner table, and a large hermit crab on the nightly walk out to the compost heap.

Posted by erikamitchell 3 months ago (Flag)
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January 2, 2020. Anse Noir, Martinique. 1 mile today
Categories: birds, arthropods, underwater

This morning I hiked up the cliff trail above Anse Noir in hopes of finding some yellow warblers. Just as I got to the top of the cliffs, it began to rain. The leaves on the trees are looking quite wilted, so I couldn't begrudge the rain. Perhaps because of the rain, the birds were quiet. All I saw was a gray kingbird in a tree. Plus a brown pelican far below, and on my way back, a royal tern. I went bug hunting in the garden after breakfast but had a difficult time finding anything. I managed to nab 2 flies, a white butterfly, and a orange butterfly. Plus some honeybees and a sand wasp. I have been quite surprised at how hard it is to spot pollinators here. Certainly, back home if you want to find bugs, you just look for some flowers, and there are your pollinators. Here the main pollinators seem to be honeybees and hummingbirds, with maybe some butterflies and a couple wasps. Later in the morning, I went out snorkeling along the southern shore of Anse Noir with my husband, followed by a solo snorkel trip along the northern shore after lunch. Today I found a red sea urchin, an orange anemone, a yellow tube sponge, a rainbow wrasse, a redlip blenny, angelfish, grunts, trumpetfish, a spotted drum, an octopus, damselfish, a sand diver, some odd round brown pancake anemones, a yellow eel, a bearded fireworm, common anemones, sergeant majors, a crab with yellow spots, a black eel with yellow spots. I also got to spend time with a small (18") 3-legged green turtle that was eating algae along the shore.

Posted by erikamitchell 3 months ago (Flag)
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January 3, 2020. Anse Noir and Anse Dufour, Martinique. 1 mile today
Categories: birds, arthropods, underwater

This morning I took a short walk past Anse Dufour to a place where I remember seeing shiny cowbirds and Lesser Antillean peewees in the past. I didn't find any cowbirds there today, but the birds were cooperative, and I found Carib grackles, Lesser Antillean bullfinches, a Caribbean eleania, black-faced grassquits, yellow warblers, Lesser Antillean flycatchers, purple throated Caribs, and magnificent frigatebirds. On my way back, I found black-whiskered vireos, Zenaida dove, royal tern, blue-headed hummingbird, and bananquits. Bugs around the campground today were a very large xylocopa carpenter bee dead in the road, an orange butterfly, a tetrio sphynx caterpillar, and some sort of ground beetle. My husband and I decided for our morning snorkel that we would head straight out to the point between Anse Noir and Anse Dufour. But we got distracted on the way out there by a large green sea turtle eating turtlegrass in the bay. We watched it feed for about 15 minutes, then finally headed out to the point. Out on the reef we found striped butterfly fish, puddingwife wrasse, a peacock flounder, staghorn coral, an octopus, red sponges, and trumpetfish.

Posted by erikamitchell 3 months ago (Flag)
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Lol, my first bird of the year was a house finch; carib grackle is much more interesting. But you can keep the 2-inch wasps, yikes! I love the idea of finding a hermit crab on the way to the compost heap; things are so different down there from up here. And I would love to see an octopus in the wild, I've been reading The Soul of an Octopus lately.

Posted by srall 3 months ago (Flag)
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1-1-20. Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ. 0.75 miles today, 662 miles total
Category: naturally occurring

Molly, Katie, and I went down to visit one of our favorite places today. The original plan was to stop first at a county park with a lake and then do the museum, but we were late getting started and ended up only doing the sculpture park. They love it here and barreled around at break-neck speed, such that there was no time to look for little weeds, and this is also an arboretum, so there is not a lot of naturally occurring vegetation to begin with. The only thing (other than sculpture and people) that I managed to photograph were a robin and a thick bracket fungus of some kind on a tree stump.

Posted by srall 3 months ago (Flag)
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1-2-20. Berkshire, Devon, and Cambridge Drives, Warren, NJ. 1.25 miles today, 663.25 miles total
Category: naturally occurring.

Molly and I walked this suburban neighborhood today, near one of her best friends' house. We parked at the end of a cul-de-sac and found there's parkland there that we did not know about, but it had no trails and was very muddy so we didn't go far in. The most interesting thing we saw was a hawk. I didn't get the best photo of it, but I think it was probably red-tailed. We also found black knot and a wasp gall, and several different mosses. Plus acorns, hickory nuts, beechnut shells and tulip tree fruit.

Posted by srall 3 months ago (Flag)
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1-3-20 Chimney Rock Park, Martinsville, NJ. 0.5 miles today, 663.75 miles total

I stopped briefly at this park on the way home from a rescue squad call, to stretch my legs before the light went completely. But I didn't have my camera and it was too dark for my phone to cope with, so I took no photos. And 15 minutes into the stroll I got another call and had to leave. Still it was nice to get out.

Posted by srall 3 months ago (Flag)
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1-4-20. Spencer and Old Forge Drives, Warren, NJ. 1.0 mile today, 664.75 miles total
Category: naturally occurring

I walked another neighborhood today, this one hilly and very shady. Interesting finds included jelly ear fungus, a dawn redwood cone with no tree in sight (though I did finally find one about a quarter mile away), powderhorn lichen, and probably mockernut hickory fruit.

Posted by srall 3 months ago (Flag)
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January 4, 2019. Anse Noir, Martinique. 1 mile today
Categories: birds, underwater

This morning I planned to hike out to the point between the two bays, but instead felt drawn to return to the Anse Dufour parking where I had such good luck birding yesterday. Today I had my big camera with big lens, which is much better for shooting birds than my smaller all-purpose lens, although it is quite a bit heavier. The birds were even more cooperative than yesterday, and I found Lesser Antillean bullfinch, purple-throated caribs, Lesser Antillean crested hummingbirds, a Caribbean eleania, a scaly-breasted thrasher, Lesser Antillean saltators, black-faced grassquita, yellow warblera, black-whiskered vireoa, Carib gracklea, Lesser Antillean flycatchera, a bananaquit, a tropical mockingbird, and a royal tern. I also saw more of those giant wasps that I saw nectaring yesterday.

After breakfast, my husband and I took the kayak out to the bat cave to try to get some better bat photos. Still no luck with the bat photos. None of my underwater cameras can shoot quickly enough to get good photos, and I'm certainly not going to take my good camera out. But underwater, we did well on the reef near the bat cave. We found trumpetfish, red squirrelfish, a chocolate chip sea cucumber, some white bumpy coral, Spanish hogfish, yellow coral with slim fingers, Atlantic blue tang, elliptical star coral, a sand diver, a single red lionfish, some sergeant majors, some bearded fireworms, and a large green turtle who was surfacing repeatedly and swimming along the top of the water. We also watched a medium-sized black and white eel eat a smaller black eel. When we found it, it was in the process of trying to swallow the other eel's head. Once it got that down, it returned for the rest of the smaller eel's body and chomped it down within a minute or so.

Posted by erikamitchell 3 months ago (Flag)
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1-5-20. Dealman/Stransky Park and Arvidale/Midvale/Busy Bee Roads, Warren, NJ. 2.75 miles today, 667.5 miles total.
Category: naturally occurring.

I took two walks today. The first, with Molly, was through this very wet local park. She immediately got muddy water in her shoes. But it was nearly 50 degrees out and she decided to continue on. This is the best spot for skunk cabbage, and this year (unlike last year) the shoots are already poking up. I imagine they'll get frosted later in the season, but they were easy to find at the moment. We also found winterberries, and probably fox scat, plus delicate fern moss and brocade moss (and aloe moss and pincushion moss, which Molly already knew). And there were two kinds of mantis oothecae, Chinese and narrow winged (which I found more exciting than she did).

In the evening I walked near home but up a dead end street I'd not gone up for years. They are building three new houses on it, but there is also access to public land at the end, so I may go up again when I have time. There was a big wasp nest here, and blackhaw in fruit, and a tree with an old English ivy vine growing up it right next to a tree with an old poison ivy vine, which made for a neat picture comparing the two.

I walked home the long way, through the elementary school playground and then down Busy Bee Road (I love the name) where they are putting in yet another house. I guess it's good to be in a growing community but it sure is growing fast! The main weedy tree in this area is Chinese elm, of all things. Every fourth tree seems to be an elm sapling.

Posted by srall 3 months ago (Flag)
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January 5, 2020. Anse Noir, Martinique. 1 mile today
categories: birds, underwater

This morning I managed to squeeze in a short walk before an early breakfast since a friend invited us to attend mass with her in the next town. Mass was a wonderful experience, but no bugs. For my walk, I headed out to the point between the 2 bays, but got caught in a rainstorm, which I waited out by the Anse Noir parking lot. Between the storm and the short amount of time I had for my walk, I didn't get very far out towards the point. Still, I managed to see a yellow warbler and heard a few other birds, none of which I managed to shoot successfully through the thick overgrowth. I did manage to shoot a grassquit, some kingbirds, a purple-throated carib, a lesser Antillean crested hummingbird, a mysterious bald bird that I didn't recognize (a grackle in moult?), a zenaida dove, a black-whiskered vireo, a bullfinch, and a saltator. I also found some nostoc and some thalloid liverwort in the trail.

After mass and lunch, my husband and I went snorkeling along the north shore of Anse Noir. Almost immediately we found the 3-legged turtle, feeding again on the algae along the reef. I also found some grunts, sea grapes, a yellow snapper, some anemone crabs, an eel, and 2 octopuses.

I read the Soul of an Octopus earlier this fall. I enjoyed it, but one thing that struck me was all the effort the author went to to get scuba certified so she could see octopuses in their native habitats. And then she traveled halfway around the world and only managed to see a few octopuses on her big trip. That made me appreciate this place even more. The way we can see octopuses on the reef every day with just a snorkel. I'm slowly learning how to look for them. I guess it's a bit like birding. You need to know the clues, how to read the reef to figure out where the creatures are. For octopuses, I keep an eye out for empty shells, especially a pile of them. If I find empty shells, chances are, there's an octopus nearby, just look for subtle movement in a crevice of the reef.

Posted by erikamitchell 3 months ago (Flag)
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January 6, 2020. Cap Salomon and Anse Noir, Martinique. 3.5 miles today
Categories: arthropods, remarkable plants, underwater

This morning I skipped my pre-breakfast walk so that I could have an early breakfast and get an early start for a longer walk, trying to beat the heat a little. Right after breakfast I headed up the stairs and down to Anse Dufour where I picked up the trail to Cap Salomon and Grande Anse. I had walked this trail a few times before but only as far as the Mare, a little pond about a mile up the trail. I had wanted to explore this trail further last year to see what was beyond the pond, but that was out of the question since I couldn't walk, not even as far as Anse Dufour. It was a thrill to be able to tackle this trail. The trail is not very steep, but it's a steady climb that involves jumping from rock to rock the whole way. I kept my eye out for plants that I might be able to identify with my notes from our stay in Sainte-Anne, or that looked possibly identifiable from books some day. I found a graceful bamboo-like plant, a weed with tiny flowers in its axils, some wilted leaves that looked familiar, some passion fruit vines, some big leaves that might be sweet potato, water lettuce in the pond, water lentils in the pond, acias in fruit, a mango tree, red birch, mother of thousands, a cactus, century plants, mother-in-law's tongue in fruit, and a Dicranum moss. I also found quite a few arthropods on the trail, including a honeybee, some leaf galls, a skimmer dragonfly, a non-honey bee, a red bug, some robber flies, a non-descript fly, a shiny green fly, a long-legged fly with a bristly butt, a small black bee/wasp, a yellow butterfly, and some hermit crabs, one of which was wearing the shell of the invasive African snail that was common in Sainte-Anne.

In the afternoon, I went snorkeling along the north shore of Anse Noir. I found some large yellowtail snappers, a small peacock flounder, filefish, chitons, some blue-headed wrasse, some puddingwife wrasse, two black and white eels, some brittlestars, an octopus, and a small (2") squid.

Posted by erikamitchell 3 months ago (Flag)
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January 7, 2020. Anse Noir, Martinique. 1 mile today
Categories: birds, underwater

This morning I returned to the point between the 2 bays to look for birds. Since I had more time today for hunting, I thought I might be more successful. I heard a few birds in the scrub, but I had little luck finding any. In the parking lot, I found a Lesser Antillean bullfinch, a crested hummingbird, a bananaquit, and a purple-throated carib. There was a magnificent frigatebird over the bay. I searched for the yellow warbler that I saw here on Sunday, but no luck. Not until breakfast, when one flew right past the table. The point is a classic example of low dry scrub, with very dense bushes up to 12' tall, punctuated by a few trees that reach perhaps 15-20' tall. The undergrowth is weeds, broken bottles, occasional tampons and some cactuses. I found what I think is called white lead tree in bloom out on the point, plus some mother-of-thousands in fruit, and a large fern growing on the wall of the chasm that splits the point. After the walk I returned to the campground for breakfast, where we entertained by a bullfinch looking for its sugar feeder (it had been on the table, but we moved it several feet up, hung from the deck rafter). And a giant wasp. I misjudged the size of the giant wasps the other day because they were quite some distance away. Today we saw one close up. It's a least 3" long, maybe 4". Blue. And it likes to nectar on flowers.

After breakfast my husband and I went snorkeling along the south side of the bay, right under the point. This side of the bay gets very little light compared to the other side. That may be why it has much less algae. I think maybe the fish species are about the same. Maybe more squirrelfish over here. Today I saw what I think were a pair of Florida pompano, a small bright orange anemone, lots of brown chromis fish, dusky squirrelfish, Cesar grunts, a chocolate chip sea cucumber, and green sea turtles. Actually, we spent much of the swim watching the turtles feed, 2 large ones and 2 smaller ones. They were eating the turtle grass that grows thickly in the middle of the bay.

Posted by erikamitchell 3 months ago (Flag)
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Maybe your wasp is a tarantula hawk? They are among the largest in the world and usually blue. Some have blue wings, too, but here's a brown-winged one for size: https://i.imgur.com/NWCGL1N.jpg

Posted by srall 3 months ago (Flag)
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1-6-20. near Somerset Medical Center, Bridgewater and Somerville, NJ. 3.0 miles today, 670.5 miles total
Category: wild

I had a dermatology appointment at a medical office on a highway, which has no sidewalks, in a row of manicured office buildings. I figured I'd walk somewhere else, but I looked at Google maps and realized you could probably sneak through from the back corner of the lot onto a residential street, and I was right. So I ended up walking down to the train tracks and back, making a big loop around the local hospital. There was a large empty lot at the start and a very brushy parking lot at the end, and in between were a lot of small, older houses, all well-maintained, but most not with the aggressive no-weeds-allowed landscaping so common in my town. So there were some interesting weeds.

I found: thistle stem galls, whitlow grass (though not blooming yet), blooming goundsel, speedwell, and dandelion, though. The speedwell in particular was a surprise. Also some small geranium, sheep sorrel, rough bedstraw, teasel, and some mint I haven't figured out yet.

Posted by srall 3 months ago (Flag)
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1-7-20. Duke Island Park, Bridgewater, NJ. 2.75 miles today, 673.25 miles total
Category: what I would show folks on a nature walk.

I was tired of suburban lawns and wanted to walk in the woods for once. This park is mostly damp woods on an island between a canal and a river. I've walked a part of this before but most of the trail was new to me. I am offering to lead some nature walks in town, which I've never done before, so I was practicing.

I found some neat stuff: woodland stonecrop; osage orange; an Usnea lichen; 4 kinds of mollusks on the beach below a weir in the river; crested Elsholtzia; a random, lovely, huge round box shrub in the middle of the woods; one of the small St. John's worts; wingstem; chestnuts (probably planted); a couple of old yuccas off in the woods as well; bur cucumber; stinging nettle; poison hemlock; Amorpha fruticosa; and cup plant.

Posted by srall 3 months ago (Flag)
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1-8-20. Raritan Valley Park, Somerville and Raritan, NJ. 2.75 miles today, 676 miles total
Category: fruits

I walked today mostly along a bike path following the river, then back on the shoulder of the highway, finally checking out one of the most boring parks I've walked in: just a mowed lawn with a border of planted trees and mugwort. I found an old railroad bridge, though, which was neat. And biologically interesting were: Chinese bushclover, lesser celandine with the bulbets exposed. I know this means it's either tetraploid or not (the other way does not have bulbets) but I can't remember which. There was swamp rose mallow and ditch stonecrop, and a section of riverbank that was entirely covered in vines, like kudzu does, only this turned out to be all Japanese hops, of all things. There was dodder climbing poke, which I've never seen before, teasel, wild bergamot, wild cucumber, Carolina geranium, a narrow winged mantis ootheca, and feathers from what I assume was a dead bird, mostly white, some sort of gray hawk-striped.

Posted by srall 3 months ago (Flag)
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1/8/20. Anse Noir, Martinique. 2 miles today.
Categories: birds, remarkable plants, bryophytes, sponges, ferns, invertebrates
This morning I skipped my early morning walk in favor of an early breakfast and a longer walk along the cliff trail. The cliff trail starts off up a steep (30 degree) lava slope through dense dry scrub. Once you pass the cliffs that overlook the campground and the bay, the trail gets slightly less steep and there is a little soil on the path. It took me about 25 minutes to reach the top of the ridge, which is about as far as I have ever gone before. It was great fun today to continue to explore up the trail. The instant I crossed to the other side of the ridge, all surf sounds disappeared, and the trees got taller. I became much more aware today of how much moisture affects the height of trees as well as the diversity of plants in the forest. The bay side of the hill below the ridge faces south so it receives full sun most of the day. The other side was in comfortable shade with taller trees, perhaps up to 30’ instead of the 15’ feet in the sun. Still, this forest is classified as dry scrub by local standards. Once up to the ridge, the trail basically followed the contour line with only a few rises and descents. Just over the ridge a French trail runner came by, but other than that, there was no one else on the path. This area of woods is hundreds of acres of undeveloped land. If there were any area on the island that could possibly have the elusive white-breasted thrasher (besides the Caravelle peninsula, where it is known to occur), it would be here. No sign of it today, though. But I did see lots of yellow warblers and saltators, some bullfinches, yellow warbler, an elaenia, and a mangrove cuckoo. Also, a royal tern, brown pelican, and a bananaquit at the beach on my way back. I noted plenty of epiphytes, plus some red birch, mother-of-thousands, yams, and a big mango tree. Plus some shrubs with lots of small seedy fruits that were popular with the bullfinches. I captured some red skimmer dragonflies and surveyed some hermit crabs about their shells (one was wearing the invasive African snail shell). I found plenty of interesting ferns on the trail, including some that looked like maidenhair ferns, polypody ferns, a giant sensitive fern, and a fern with a fertile stalk sticking straight up from the rachis, but it didn’t look otherwise at all like a rattlesnake fern. I also found lots of bryophytes, including some liverworts, both thalloid and leafy, and a moss that looked at first like a polypore. I greatly enjoyed the trail, until it ended abruptly at a new chain link fence beside a dump. Odd—I’ve seen many locals hiking this trail before. It must go somewhere besides the back of the dump. There were 3 side trails going up and 3 going down from the ridge trail, so I guess I’ll have to try them next.

In the afternoon I went for a snorkel along the northern side of the bay. This side faces south, so it gets full sun most of the time. I think that’s why there’s so much more algae on the reef on this side. There was quite a bit of surf today, so my original plan of trying to photograph comb jellies was postponed. I’ve been reading Stephen Gould’s “Wonderful Life”, in which at one point he mentions all the different phyla that can be found on a coral reef. Porifera (sponges), Ctenophora (comb jellies), Cnideria (anemones, corals, jellyfish), Mollusca, Annelida, Arthropoda, Echinodermata (urchins, cucumbers, starfish), Chordata…and all the algae. I’m fascinated to see examples of all of these phyla on every swim and to learn more about how they are grouped by taxonomists. I guess phyla don’t even exist anymore—phylum is just too arbitrary of an organizational level to pin down exactly. With the big swells today, I ended up mostly concentrating on sponges because they tend to stay still. I found at least 3 different kinds of red sponges, some blue, some brown, and some purple. Plus a big black and yellow eel that was giving me a threatening look so I backed off.

Posted by erikamitchell 3 months ago (Flag)
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Tarantula hawk? Sounds awesome. But Wikipedia says they're only about 2" long. The ones I've been seeing are 3-4" long and blue. I can't wait to put a name on them and learn more. But the Internet is too flaky here for me to upload any photos. It's great to hear about you scouting out nature walk possibilities. What a fun activity that will be! Just stay clear of Mugwort Park.

Posted by erikamitchell 3 months ago (Flag)
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From what I'm seeing there are no wasp species longer than 2.5 inches, but of course it depends on how you measure them.

Posted by srall 3 months ago (Flag)
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Interesting...I wish I could get them to pose over a ruler. But I don't even have a ruler here. One of the wasps did pose over a strip of decking. I just marked the width of a decking strip on a piece of paper. When I get home I'll measure it and see if I can get an estimate of the length from a photo. Thanks for looking into the wasp lengths--our internet is so slow here that even basic searches are completely out of the question.

Posted by erikamitchell 3 months ago (Flag)
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1/9/20. Anse Dufour and Anse Noir, Martinique. 1 mile today
Categories: birds, underwater

This morning I slept in, so my morning walk was a little late, more like 7-8 AM instead of 6-7. I headed up to the Anse Dufour parking area in hopes of finding some flycatchers and vireos, but I had very little luck with birds up there this morning. Maybe I was too late, or maybe it was the rainy weather. I managed to catch a quick glimpse of an elaenia, and some very nice views of bullfinches, purple-throated caribs, bananquits, and green-headed hummingbirds, and some mockingbirds. A crew of workmen were mowing the grass at the park at the top of the Anse Noir stairs, which may have encouraged all the hummers and bananaquits to move on to the tree by the sewage treatment plant, a few hundred meters away. Some folks had been tying their goats in the park or cutting grass in the park for their animals, but I guess the goats were doing a good enough job. Now the park has a thorough buzz cut, right down to the roots. I’m glad I went weed hunting there last week because there’s nothing left now.

After breakfast, my husband and I went for a snorkel along the south side of the bay. The water was quite rough with big swells. Between the shade and the swells, hardly any of my photos turned out. Too much motion blur. But I managed to catch a bit of zoanthid mat, some orange sponge, a brown tube sponge, a bright magenta sponge, a lion fish, and some orange anemone.

Posted by erikamitchell 3 months ago (Flag)
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1/10/20. Anse Noir, Martinique. 0.5 mile today
Categories: underwater

This morning was quite rainy so I didn’t go walking. It was also quite windy with white caps on the water just beyond the bay. One of the advantages of the rough water is that it’s quiet at night. On the calm nights earlier this week, local kids were coming to the bay in party boats, playing loud music and drinking until all hours. Rough water keeps the riff raff out. But despite the wind today, the water was marginally calmer and visibility was decent. My husband and I went for a snorkel right before lunch. We found a spotted scorpionfish in the shallows, also a black and gold eel, and a sand diver. My husband was searching for turtles and found a small one (about 16”) getting tossed by currents while trying to eat algae from the reef. It was joined by “Lefty”, the 3-legged turtle, who edged it out. I found a group of 3 large black-and-gold banded fish that I don’t have a name for, a Caribbean sharpnose puffer, some red anemones (open and closed), a purple bumpy sponge, a small octopus, a variegated urchin (my first of this trip), and a new-to-me fish, a 6-8” tube-shaped fish that behaved like a blenny (sitting comparatively still on the coral) but was fluorescent orange and yellow around its head and white with black spots in the back. Very cool!

Posted by erikamitchell 3 months ago (Flag)
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1/11/20. Anse Noire and Plage de Gros Raisin, Martinique. 2 miles today
Categories: birds, underwater

We had showers every 15-20 minutes this morning, so I skipped my morning walk. I shot a few birds at breakfast, though, including a mockingbird that hung around all day. After breakfast, my husband and I took the canoe out to a place marked on maps as Plage de gros raisin. That's the same name as a much more famous beach in Saint Luce, and no one has ever heard of this little patch of sand, about 6' wide. We stopped on the way at the bat cave for one more try at some photographs of the bats. I shot dozens of photos, but still no luck at anything identifiable. The cave is dark. The boat bounces. Without a flash or ISO controls, it's simply impossible to get legible bat photos in the cave. Well, I'm starting to think about the need to do a true upgrade. The little waterproof point and shoots are simply frustrating. A proper underwater housing for a real camera costs about 3 times as much as the camera. I think I need to start saving my pennies.

At the Plage de gros raisin we found several new shells, and I shot a selection of beach plants, including century plants, beach almond, white lead tree, mother-of-thousands, a coconut seedling, kapok, the giant "sensitive" fern. I also shot a lizard and some hunks of beached coral. In the water, I found some West Indian sea eggs, some rock boring urchins and variegated urchins, some yellow finger corals and big brown elk corals, plus lots of brain corals and other hard corals. As well as lots of fan corals and other soft corals. I found some grunts, blennies, squirrel fish, yellow-tail parrot fish, blue tangs, trumpetfish, sergeant majors, a big school of bar jacks, a French angelfish, a large anemone, a Guilding's starfish, flamingo tongue snails, and a selection of sponges. As we came back to the tiny beach, I found a dead Johnstone's tree frog on a rock by the water and a chiton. Overall, the bay was much like the bag near the bat cave, with many more sea fans and fewer fish than we usually see in Anse Noire.

Posted by erikamitchell 3 months ago (Flag)
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The beach of the big grape? I love the name. Some day I will convince my non-travelling husband to visit the Caribbean (or perhaps I will simply go alone!) I love reading your descriptions every winter.

Posted by srall 3 months ago (Flag)
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1-9-20. Geiger Lane, Warren, NJ. 2.0 miles today, 678 miles total
Category: wild

I walked another residential street today. This one started in the parking lot for a park, went a little along a busy road, then up the old part of the residential street, and on to the newer section, with some of the biggest mansions in town (though I didn't quite make it to the $2 million section, only to the $1.7 millions). Unsurprisingly not a lot of weeds in the McMansions (these are one acre lots and immaculately landscaped). Lawn weeds were English plantain, mouse ear chickweed, hairy bittercress, mosses, henbit, chickweed, bull thistle, and a ton of wild garlic. The most interesting things were all diseases, mostly along the main road: rose rosette disease, oak shothole leafminer, horned oak gall, and rough oak bullet galls.

Posted by srall 3 months ago (Flag)
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1-10-20 Chimney Rock Park, Martinsville, NJ. 0.5 miles today, 678.5 miles total
Category: whatever caught Molly's eye

I walked today briefly with Molly, while I was on duty with the rescue squad (so we couldn't go far from the car). This is an older park edged with a huge amount of red cedar trees and some mixed oak woods, and otherwise mowed lawns.

We found swamp milkweed, a mantis ootheca, a very orange shelf fungus, swamp agrimony, hedge bedstraw fruit, lots of juniper galls, and catalpa leaf scars. My youngest (Katie) is obsessed with catalpa because she thinks the name Catalpa bignonioides is hilarious (though we mostly have C. speciosa).

Posted by srall 3 months ago (Flag)
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1-11-20. Furguson Rd., Warren, NJ. 1.25 miles today, 679.75 miles total
Category: wild

I walked up this side road along a wooded brook today. This is an old road and even still has a small farm with a few cattle on it (one of which escaped a couple years ago and managed to disappear for several months before showing up again at the farm. Everyone wonders how the heck a cow disappeared that long in Warren of all places).

Even though it's more "wild" there were not a ton of interesting species here: some nice moss and lichen on the rocks, the remains of a light colored bird that presumably got eaten, a small hemlock, and an elm I don't know were about the extent of it. Otherwise privet, witchhazel, barberry, rose, bittersweet, honeysuckle, oak, tulip, ash, hickory, red cedar, maple, mugwort, goldenrod, christmas fern, poison ivy, greenbriar.

Posted by srall 3 months ago (Flag)
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1-12-20. Upper Warren and Wolf Hill, Warren, NJ. 1.75 miles today, 681.5 miles total
Category: wild

I walked with Molly on these residential streets (and a bit of a powerline cut) on the far side of town today. It was stunningly beautiful, sunny, breezy, and 65 degrees (which means we should have snow within the week). This was mostly houses with lots of trees plus a small powerline cut with a goat farm next to it. Trees were tulip (Molly's favorite), red, white and probably black and chestnut oaks, black birch, black cherry, ash, hickories, hornbeam, hophornbeam. There was witchhazel plus privet, burning bush, barberry, rose, greenbriar, wineberry. But also stump puffballs and big toothed aspen. And some japanese anemone, presumably escaped from someone's garden.

Posted by srall 3 months ago (Flag)
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Walking streets with megalawns can be rather frightening. I can't help but wonder how healthy it is to live in a place where the ability of living things to grow is so tightly controlled. Good for you for finding something there, anything! Just documenting what actually can be found when the goal of the owners seems to be sheer extermination is quite valuable.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1-13-20. Strawberry and Raspberry Trails, Warren, NJ. 2 miles today, 683.5 miles total
Category: wild

I walked today first down one of the oldest roads in town, which is wooded and follows a brook and has old, small houses with overgrown yards, then up through a development I remember them putting in 15 years ago or so, with McMansions, and at the top a couple undeveloped lots.

The highlight of the day was carline thistle in the undeveloped lot. I've only seen it a handful of times, and it's really pretty (if invasive). Also interesting were Japanese aralia tree, Deptford pink, an escaped butterfly bush, and what might be Radula liverwort.

Posted by srall 2 months ago (Flag)
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1-15-20. Delaware and Raritan Canal, South Bound Brook, NJ. 3.25 miles today, 686.75 miles total
category: wild

I walked along the canal today, much farther than I'd gone before, to the bridge where the interstate crosses the river. I chose this in part because it's right across the river from where there was a big fire, set by an arson, in some apartment buildings under construction, and I figured I'd be able to see the damage (it was extensive). It was a beautiful sunny day and wonderful to get outside.

I saw a bufflehead and several common mergansers, dodder, blackberry knot, rose rosette disease, chinese mantis oothecae, evergreen bagworm, black locust twig galls, turtlehead, Amorpha, and a weird fungus on the north side of the concrete spillway.

Posted by srall 2 months ago (Flag)
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1-16-20. Peter's Brook, Somerville, NJ. 2.75 miles today, 689.5 miles total
Category: wild

Molly and I went down to walk this bike path in the "city" of Somerville, only to find the middle of it closed for construction on a (previously very smelly) water treatment plant. So we walked around the closure on the mostly commercial streets, and through a graveyard. Molly took a shortcut back and didn't come out where I expected, but I found her eventually.

Interesting finds included sidewalk firedot on the headstones, a raccoon print, stinging nettle, swamp rose mallow, bur cucumber, ash flower galls, and a pair of common mergansers.

Posted by srall 2 months ago (Flag)
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1-18-20. Sugar Maple Trail, Frost Valley, NY. 2 miles today, 691.5 miles total
category: visible through the snow.

The family (minus my son, Carl, but plus Katie's best friend, Melissa) went up to this big YMCA camp int the Catskills for the weekend. The first hike I went on was over to their sugar house where I listened to a lecture about making syrup and then we hiked back. The trees here are nearly all beech (every last one covered in Nectria lesions, which is not an issue back home), yellow birch, and sugar maple. The understory is Japanese barberry, multiflora and what I suspect is dog rose, some blackberry. But there was lots of lichen (including script lichen, which I nearly never see), lots of moss, some ferns, two kinds of clubmoss, and at the sugar house a barn swallow nest.

Posted by srall 2 months ago (Flag)
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1-18-20 Diversity Drive, Frost Valley, NY. 1 mile today, 692.5 miles total.
Category: wild

next I walked a big loop from the dining hall to my cabin and back (actually in order to change out of my boots which were annoying my toe), checking out the shrubbery all the way around. At first I accidentally had my camera set to black and white, which was fine for the little waterfall, but useless when I was doing lichens. But I soon realized and switched back. I found barberry, burdock, avens, rose, goldenrod, asters, healall, a bird nest, mugwort, olive, ash, deertongue, wild basil, plantain, a knapweed, speedwell, mullein, woolgrass, orchard grass, steeplebush, bedstraw, yarrow, lichens, and possible cat's ear, pennyroyal, ox eye daisy.

Posted by srall 2 months ago (Flag)
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1-18-20 Cable Bridge Trail, Frost Valley, NY. 2 miles today, 694.5 miles total.
Category: visible through the snow

This was a lovely hike, along a ravine with hemlocks. We crossed two cable bridges, where you walk a tightrope but with two other cables at shoulder height to hold onto. It was snowing heavily, with ankle deep snow, people were hiking quickly so there was not much time to stop for photos, and my camera battery died. But I saw a clubmoss I don't know (which is saying nothing, as I think I don't know any clubmosses) and the hemlock of course, plus yellow birch, beech, and sugar maple.

Posted by srall 2 months ago (Flag)
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1-19-20 Geyer to Shoe Barn, Frost Valley, NY. 2 miles today, 696.5 miles total
category: wild

I hiked down to the cross country ski center, then back to my cabin and back to the center, as I didn't have my ID. But I got to take photos along the way. At first it was all planted trees and snow-covered lawn, so I did lichens, but down by skiing there was a ton, including St. John's wort, a big umbellifer that made me think of cow parsnip but was probably only wild parsnip, burning bush, wild basil, sensitive fern.

There was also a sign about how in 2013 they tried 4 different eradication techniques on the Japanese barberry here, including hand pulling and chemicals. Each description of a method ended with the line "how do you think it worked?" Considering the entire area was completely covered in Japanese barberry, I would have to say not well at all.

Posted by srall 2 months ago (Flag)
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1-19-20 Brother's Hole, Frost Valley, NY. 2 miles today, 698.5 miles total
Category: visible through snow

This was a snowshoe hike, and I was one of the only people who was at all experienced with snowshoes, and there were kids along, so we went nice and slowly with frequent breaks. We stayed in the woods (and never quite made it to Brother's Hole) and I got to take lots of photos.

I found: dog rose with moss galls, steeplebush, olive, St. John's wort, the poor deformed beech trees. Yellow birch with script lichen, liverwort, hoof fungus. Hemlock, black cherry, sugar maple, beechdrops, two kinds of clubmoss, lots of lichens and mosses, heal all, barberry.

I also learned that one of my fellow hikers went to high school with me and was even in the same class, though I only vaguely remember him.

Posted by srall 2 months ago (Flag)
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1-20-20 Responsibility Circle, Frost Valley, NY. 1.5 miles today, 700 miles total
category: wild

Monday morning was very cold, in the single digits, and my camera batteries would last for about a dozen photos and then die. I only had the two with me, so I had to give up photography pretty quickly on this loop around most of the cabins at the camp. Which was a shame as it's up on the hill and there was larch, the first I'd seen there.

But I did get lots of lichen, steeplbush, st. John's wort, sensitive fern, goldenrod, aster, willowherb, thistle, and healall. There were also Scots pines, planted, but I rarely see them.

After this walk, we packed to head home.

Posted by srall 2 months ago (Flag)
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That sounds like a terrific family weekend in New York! Good for you for getting hiking in the cold! But I don't know if I would have been brave enough to cross the cable bridge, especially in winter. It's too bad about the barberry. No surprise that nothing worked to eradicate it. It sounds like this is the spot that barberry has been waiting for all its life.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/12/20. Anse Dufour, Martinique. 0.5 miles today
Categories: birds

This morning I headed up to the parking area in Anse Dufour for one last chance to see some yellow warblers or black-whiskered vireos. No luck with them, but I did find some magnificent frigatebirds, black-faced grassquits, gray kingbirds, Lesser Antillean bullfinches, Caribbean elaenias, Lesser Antillean saltators, green-throated Caribs, Carib grackles, and some bananquits. Road kill today was a Johnstone's whistling frog. After breakfast I tried to go for one last snorkel, but the water was quite rough. Visibility was less than 2 feet, and the swells were bigger than that, so I quickly decided that snorkeling was senselessly dangerous. That's a first for us at this location. I guess way up on the north part of the island there is more good snorkeling, but they have rough weather a lot. One more reason why we like to stay here in Anse Noire.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/13/20. Northfield, VT. 2 miles today.
Categories: trees, galls

This morning I took a walk around the south end of Northfield. These were all roads that I had walked before, but back before I started collecting photos for iNaturalist. It was fun to revisit some of my old haunts. I mainly focused on trees this morning, catching white pine, sugar maple, red maple, beech, box elder, balsam fir, red spruce, gray birch, black cherry, red oak, speckled alder, trembling aspen, and apple. I also kept my eye out for galls and found goldenrod flower gall, goldenrod stem gall, and honeysuckle aphid. I found a woolly bear crawling in the road, and a dead moth, probably recent dead, lying in a driveway.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/14/20. Peck Hill Rd, Calais, VT. 2 miles today.
Categories: tracks, arthropods

I have been getting more and more interested in arthropods on snow, their distribution and factors that determine when I might find them. I decided to start a new personal project today, walking the same route every day in search of arthropods on snow (while keeping an eye out for tracks). The route I chose is 1 mile long, but I do it as an out and back, carefully watching the ground for any signs of arthropods. The route goes through the woods, past a farm field, along a brook, so it's got some good varied habitat.

I was delighted today to find my first arthropod of the project, a black and red spider in some edge habitat between forest and field at the very end of my route. I also found deer, squirrel, and raven tracks.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/15/20. Peck Hill Rd, Calais, VT. 2 miles today.
Categories: tracks, arthropods

Today was warm and snowy, so the bug were out in force. I found some snow flies, several rove beetle larvae, 3 different kinds of spiders, and a winter crane fly. Tracks for today were raccoon, junco, ruffed grouse, and tiny rodents.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/16/20. Peck Hill Rd, Calais, VT. 2 miles today.
Categories: tracks, arthropods

Today was a great day for spiders along my Peck Hill route. The temperature was in the mid-20s (F), with lots of fresh snow. I found 7 different brown Tetragnatha individuals, plus a green Tetragnatha and several Trichocera winter craneflies, one dead, one living. There was a large flock of juncos along the field. I tried shooting them, but my macro lens just couldn't reach that far. Tracks for today were white-tailed deer.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/17/20. Peck Hill Rd, Calais, VT. 2 miles today.
Categories: tracks, arthropods

The temperature was around 10F today, and I couldn't find anything crawling on the snow. Still, I found some fresh tracks: rodents, ruffed grouse, deer, perching birds (juncos?), and squirrels.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/18/20. Sodom Pond Rd, Calais, VT. 3.4 miles today.
Categories: trees, tracks

This morning I met up with 3 friends for our Saturday morning hike in Adamant. The temperature was not quite 5F, so nothing was out and about. I managed to find a single set of deer tracks. I also photographed a pine tree in hoar frost beside the waterfall, and a hophornbeam fruit that caught my eye as I was hunting for spiders.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/19/20. Peck Hill Rd, Calais, VT. 2 miles today
Categories: arthropods, tracks

Between last night and this morning we picked up another 9" of fresh snow. I took my walk up Peck Hill thinking I'd be post-holing the last section. Peck Hill Rd is a Class 4 road, which means limited town maintenance. The town plows just the first 1/4 mile. Then the residents (both of them) have to do the rest of the plowing. To my surprise, the road had already been cleared by the time I got there in mid-afternoon. It was about 15F, but I managed to find a lovely golden spider on the snow towards the end of my route. I also found fresh deer tracks and some junco tracks.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/20/20. Peck Hill Rd, Calais, VT. 2 miles today
Categories: arthropods, tracks

Cold again today, 16F when I went out for my walk. No arthropods, but I found tracks of a deer, a squirrel, two kinds of small rodents (a tail-dragger, and a 4-clustered hopper) and some juncos.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/21/20. Peck Hill Rd, Calais, VT. 2 miles today
Categories: arthropods, tracks

Still cold today, 16F again. We haven't had new snow in a while so it's getting hard to recognize new tracks. I found deer tracks and coyote tracks. Unlike the dog tracks that race up and down the road, the coyote tracks went straight across the road and straight into the woods. The juncos were out along the road along with a flock of redpolls by the farm field.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/22/20. Peck Hill Rd, Calais, VT. 2 miles today
Categories: arthropods, tracks

Marginally warmer today, 18F, but still no arthropods. Tracks for today were a coyote, a raven, a small rodent, a squirrel, and a deer.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/23/20. Peck Hill Rd, Calais, VT. 2 miles today
Categories: arthropods, tracks

Toasty warm today, 33F, and my bug friends were back. I found swarms of snow fleas, a winter crane fly, a golden spider, and a Tetragnatha spider. All the insects were towards the end of my route, near the deep woods. Tracks today were a deer and a snowshoe hare.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/24/20. Peck Hill Rd, Calais, VT. 2 miles today
Categories: arthropods, tracks

The temperature rose to 38F today, great for bug hunting. I found a fly, flocks of snow fleas, a black and red spider, a winter crane fly, and a snow fly. Plus tracks of a deer and a raccoon.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/25/20. Sodom Pond, Calais VT. 1.6 miles today
Categories: tracks, arthropods

This morning I met up with 2 friends for a snowshoe hike across Sodom Pond. One friend was excited to take advantage of the ice to wander amongst the pond edges on the far side. The other wasn't excited about going out on the ice. I've gone through the ice twice on this pond, both times up to my knees while wandering amongst the pond edges. So we compromised and stuck to the middle of the pond, steering clear vegetation where the ice is thin, even though that's what is so interesting. We found deer tracks and red fox tracks. There were also lots of snow fleas. But they were scattered evenly over the surface of the pond instead of congregated in swarms.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/25/20. Peck Hill Rd, Calais, VT. 2 miles today
Categories: arthropods, tracks

Since it was warm again, 38F, I took a second walk by myself up Peck Hill to look for bugs. I found several snow flies, swarms of snowfleas, a snow crane fly, and a brown spider. I also found squirrel tracks, ruffed grouse tracks, and a pile of odd-looking mammal scat on top of a snow mound.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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I love that 33 was toasty warm for you; I told my son this morning that it was "freezing cold, 34". I love walking ponds to see the vegetation from the other side, but I rarely get a pond frozen enough to do it, and I have fallen through, right at the edge, up to my knees, while out walking alone, and had a moment of what if I can't get out... so now I'm much more leery about it.

Posted by srall 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/26/20. Sodom Pond, Calais, VT. 1 mile today
Categories: birds, arthropods, tracks

This morning I walked through downtown Adamant searching for birds. We had about an inch of fresh frozen precipitation which made everything sparkly, but kept the birds home. I only found a blue jay and a chickadee to photograph. Plus a spider when I was looking down at the ground instead of up in the trees. It was hard to remember to focus on birds this morning. I found myself drawn to the shoulders of the road where I could get a better look at the surface of the snow. But the shoulders still had crispy fresh snow underfoot, which made it hard to listen for birds. Back to the center of the road to hear the birds! I also found deer tracks, rodent tracks, and some mammal tracks with sharp claws.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/26/20. Peck Hill Rd, Calais, VT. 2 miles today
Categories: arthropods

Later this morning I went for a walk up Peck Hill to look for arthropods. It was "warm", about 38, with a frozen slushy mix falling out of the sky. Oddly, I didn't find any snow fleas on the route today, even though Adamant was hopping with them. But I did find a fly, a Tetragnatha spider, a winter crane fly, and a snow fly.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1-21-20. Miller Lane, Washington Valley Park, Martinsville, NJ. 1.0 miles today, 701 miles total.
Category: bark and buds

I walked this hill top, wooded trail, a little chuck of which I'd not done since I hurt my foot 4 years ago now. I was practicing bark and buds on trees, checking the surrounding trees at each fork in the path. There was American (?) elm, flowering dogwood, black (?) oak, tuliptree, white oak, sassafras, red maple, some planted pine (red?), Japanese angelica tree, some kind of cherry, an ash that was too tall for me to see the buds, red cedar, planted white pine, red oak, tree of heaven, and probably planted sweetgum.

Posted by srall 2 months ago (Flag)
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1-22-20. Somerset St. Somerville and Raritan, NJ. 1.5 miles today, 702.5 miles total
Category: wild

After my WW meeting today I walked west, as I'd not really walked that way before. I went for 25 minutes and then turned around, as I have a cold and wasn't feeling up to more than that. This was along the railroad embankment, which I climbed at one point, then some commercial, then some small, older houses with weedy lawns (the best kind), and on the way home mostly commercial again.

First thing I found was the most exciting: dog vomit slime mold! I can just hear my kids, "Only you would get excited about dog vomit, Mom" "But it's not really vomit..." "Doesn't matter."

Other than that, there was both common St. John's wort and a large Potentilla right next to each other, and I'm always mistaking Potentilla for Hypericum. Then in cracks in the side of the concrete railroad bridge I found both Kennilworth ivy and ebony spleenwort. A much more botanically interesting walk than I expected.

Posted by srall 2 months ago (Flag)
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1-23-20. Quail Run, Warren, NJ. 1.5 miles today, 704 miles total.
Category: wild

Still feeling under the weather, I stopped on the way to the grocery store for another 45 minute walk, this one through one of the oldest "mansion farms" in town. Many of the houses have weeds in their lawns and one or two are not currently being maintained by landscapers. Plus on the way to the development there was a little stretch of former farm along the main road that was somewhat wild.

I found: a Paulownia tree growing in a drainage ditch, lots of roses with rose rosette disease, a random patch of Perilla growing in someone's shrubbery, poor shriveled-up prickly-pear cactus that was clearly planted but still a very unusual sight in town, a patch of jimsonweed (always makes me think of you, Erika) and another drainage ditch full of watercress.

Posted by srall 2 months ago (Flag)
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1-26-20. Delaware Raritan Canal, Kingston, NJ. 1.75 miles today, 705.75 miles total
Category: whatever catches my eye

I helped Molly move back into college for the spring semester, then walked here, even though I still have a bit of a head cold. I've walked here before but went north, where it's just a canal towpath. Today I went south and was surprised to find an old lock with the lock keeper's house, an impoundment, two parallel towpaths, which go down past the big weir that create's Princeton's Lake Carnegie, and a funky huge metal culvert that serves as the pedestrian tunnel under the state highway.

There were a number of interesting finds, too, starting with locust stem borer galls, swamp milkweed, and a silver maple in bloom, 6 weeks early, poor thing. Then there was a random escaped leatherleaf mahonia, and totally-new-to-me blackberry seed gall wasp galls that look a lot like dodder but don't come off. There was a juniper recently chewed by beaver, weird bud galls on a bitternut hickory that I can't figure out, a whole row of planted osage orange (probably 30 of them), a witch's butter -type jelly fungus, a small St. John's wort, and some actual dodder.

Posted by srall 2 months ago (Flag)
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1-27-20. Green Brook, Watchung Reservation, Scotch Plains, NJ. 1.5 miles today, 707.25 miles total
Category: whatever caught my eye

I walked south from Seeley's Pond today in this big county park near me, something I'd never done before (I also never realized this was in Scotch Plains, towlines are very random in my area). This meant I went over the top of the First Watchung Mountain again, but further east of where I usually do so. On the other side, along the brook, there are huge basalt cliffs (huge being 50 feet or so) with tiny waterfalls. Across the road from here is a quarry, and I passed the remains of an old mill. I took the wrong path back but did not get too lost.

Interesting finds included pussytoes, a beech tree with graffiti from 1959 still clearly legible, a pixie cup lichen growing on the ground, ivy leaved speedwell, clethra, dames rocket, and lots of neat mosses.

Posted by srall 2 months ago (Flag)
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Hope you're feeling better now! Congrats on the blackberry seed gall! That must have been a very exciting find! And what a fun place to find ebony spleenwort.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/27/20 Peck Hill Rd, Calais, VT. 2 miles today
Categories: arthropods, tracks

This afternoon was warm again, 36F with light snow flurries after another inch of new snow. Perfect weather for collecting arthropods! I found 17 of them today! Mostly spiders, mostly the same kind with a light brown cephalothrorax and a darker, redder abdomen. But also one that might have been a Tetragnatha, but was definitely different from the others, and a larger one with the same colors, but at least twice as big. Plus several snow crane flies, a snow fly, a snow flea, and new-to-me little beetle. Tracks today were deer, red squirrel, and ruffed grouse.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/28/20 Peck Hill Rd, Calais, VT. 2 miles today
Categories: arthropods, tracks

This afternoon the weather was every-so-slightly cooler (30F) and just a bit windier. There were noticeably fewer arthropods than yesterday's bonanza. Still, I found a few, including a spear-winged fly, 2 snow flies (1 dead, 1 living), a spider with an ornately patterned abdomen and a lovely small stonefly. Small stonefly? Hah! At over 1/2", it's probably the biggest non-lep arthropod I've found all season. Tracks today were turkey in addition to deer and squirrel, my first turkey tracks on the route this year.

Posted by erikamitchell 2 months ago (Flag)
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I find myself hoping we'll get some snow, just so I can look for critters on it. I've only seen turkey tracks once in my life (and thought they were geese at first, until I realized they weren't webbed), though I see turkeys themselves every couple of months around here.

Posted by srall 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/29/20 Peck Hill Rd, Calais, VT. 2 miles today
Categories: arthropods, tracks

It was windy and clear this afternoon with the temperature hovering around 20F. No bugs! I think I've seen some crawling when it is as cold as this, but I don't think they like drying conditions in addition to the cold. I found some tracks, though. A new rodent, smaller than a squirrel, yet with 4 largish feet. Plus a grouse, a snowshoe hare, and something big--maybe another hare, or maybe a predator.

Posted by erikamitchell about 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/30/20. Peck Hill Rd, Calais, VT. 2 miles today
Categories: arthropods, tracks

Before my Peck Hill walk this morning, I went out into the yard to look for tracks from the coyotes who walked through the yard at breakfast. Sure enough, there were their tracks, right beside the snowshoe hare tracks. Other tracks today were white-tailed deer and a grouse. Plus what looked like bear tracks across the river. Big tracks in clumps of 4. But bears are asleep right now (I hope!). Bobcat? We'll see what the tracking experts say. Just at the very end of my bug walk I found a spider. It only posed for one photo, though. Then it got shy and curled up in a ball before I even got a good shot of its face. Although the temperature was in the mid-20s F, overnight, it had been below 0F. The temperature of the snow 6" below the surface was 18F. The poor spider was moving VERY slowly.

Posted by erikamitchell about 2 months ago (Flag)
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1/31/20. Peck Hill Rd, Calais, VT. 2 miles today
Categories: arthropods, tracks

Although it was "warm" today, in the low 30s, there was plenty of sunshine, and once again, it was almost 0F last night. So the snow was colder than you might think for a 30F day. There wasn't much moving, although with a lot of hunting, I managed to find a few snow fleas in the sun. Just a few, with a lot of searching. No swarms, for sure. I think I found some more coyote tracks, this time across a farm field. And the macabre sight of deer fur popping up through some melting snow on the "roadway".

Posted by erikamitchell about 2 months ago (Flag)
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I don't think I've ever seen a snowshoe hare, even in a zoo. I'm really enjoying all your tracks, they are very interesting; I'm still at squirrel,deer, cat, dog, bird, big bird, and little tiny mammal. Oh, and I can do raccoon in mud. But we've had a number of very light snows this year, so I practice then.

Posted by srall about 2 months ago (Flag)
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1-27-20. Sleepy Hollow, Gentry, and Ferguson, Warren, NJ. 1.5 miles today, 708.75 miles total
Category: wild

This is an older development in town, with smaller ranches and bigger trees, but still not a lot of "wild" areas. Interesting things I found were rose rosette disease, winter creeper, a basillica orbweaver's egg sacs, and a beech that looked very disapproving.

Posted by srall about 2 months ago (Flag)
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1-28-20. West End, Cornell, Prospect, Davenport in Somerville, NJ. 2.25 miles today, 711 miles total
Category: wild

I walked north west through Somerville after Weight Watchers today. Big old Victorian houses and some newer ones, plus a dead-end that threads through to the US highway (and the diner) and a short cut through a small playground along a brook. Interesting finds included moth mullein, teasel, burdock, cheeses, and scholar tree (planted) with its fruit all dropping.

Posted by srall about 2 months ago (Flag)
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1-30-20. Middaugh. Arline, Summit in Somerville, NJ. 2.0 miles today, 713 miles total
Category: wild.

I walked near where I walked yesterday, before an appointment this morning, in a loop that intersected with yesterday's walk. Similar neighborhood: older houses and some 1950s ranches. Unusual finds today were buckeye fruit (a planted street tree, but not common here), rose of sharon, hackberry, pennyroyal, and a shed cicada skin, still clinging to a tree, presumably since last August.

Posted by srall about 2 months ago (Flag)

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