Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Bunch of Buds

A  splendid warm day after cleansing rain yesterday.  How clean and sweet the world seemed this morning!  How appropriate, then, to find this little violet -- pure white and fragrant -- just about to bloom in the Skidmore woods.  I have yet to figure out what species it is.  The closest to it I find in my guides are the Northern White and the Sweet White, both of them tiny, both of them early blooming,  and both of them fragrant, but both also have purple veining on the lower lip. My violet is white all over, as the next photo (taken last year) shows clearly.  Can anybody help me on this?

I next went looking for hepatica, which carpets the Skidmore woods most gloriously in April.  From years of exploring this special place, I knew where to look and I found last fall's leaves protruding above the leaf litter, but I had to dig down to find this baby bud, all snug in its fuzzy fur bunting and not yet ready to bloom.  My friend Sue Pierce sent me photos today of hepatica much further along in Moreau Lake State Park.  So it won't be long before we enjoy all those beautiful blooms in shades from snow white through pink and lavender to deep purple.

I next came upon quite a puzzling scene.  While prowling some vernal pools in search of spotted salamanders, I noticed the forest floor was littered with all these snipped off twigs of red maple.  The litter covered an area maybe a hundred feet across.  No, the wind didn't bring them down.  We haven't had any wind storms lately.  And look at the angled cut where the twig was cropped.  Somebody bit that off.

Could the culprit be a red squirrel?  I've heard that they like to create their personal highways through the trees, snipping off any twigs that get in their way.  If you look real close, you'll notice that none of the buds are eaten.  Is somebody coming back to enjoy a feast on the ground? Or has some bushy-tailed little brush hog been chomping its way through the canopy?  And why just red maple?  Or maybe red maple's brilliant red color makes it easy to see,  and other twigs are littered about too, it's just that I didn't see them?  Hmmmm.  As I've said before, you never know what you might find on a walk in the woods.

1 comment:

NatureGirl said...

Red squirrel is my guess! Very nice entry. :)