Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Warm Day, River Walk

Freakishly warm today!  The temperature was in the low 70s, but it was still quite icy underfoot where I walked along the Hudson Crossing Trail at Schuylerville.

With snow melting fast on this strangely warm day, I feared that the Hudson River might be flooding, but no, the water, while muddy and roilng, remained well within its banks.

Although the day was dark and gray, it was pleasant to sit by the river and enjoy the balmy air and the sound of the rushing water.  The designers of this trail have added many places to do just that, with benches placed at intervals along the way.

It will be many more weeks before I think about paddling the river, but it's good to know there are sites along this trail that would make it easy to launch my canoe.

My birding friends report seeing Bald Eagles and all kinds of migrating waterfowl along this stretch of the Hudson, but the only birds I saw today were made of metal, like these life-sized iron sculptures, a Great Blue Heron standing by the trail and a Pileated  Woodpecker mounted on a tree stump.

I did not see the mouse or vole that made these subnivean tunnels, but the little creature's active travels beneath the snow have become quite evident, now that the snow has melted and uncovered the branching paths.  By tunneling under the snow this way, these little rodents can stay warm and safe, invisible to such predators as owls and foxes.

Winter's snow and ice bring down many tree limbs over the course of the season, and this limb was particularly colorful, adorned as it was with a pretty green lichen and the dark-brown rubbery "ears" of Wood Ear Fungus.

There are many American Bladdernut shrubs along these river banks, and some of them still held a few of the hollow pods that this shrub is named for.

Hackberry trees are also abundant here, and they are immediately identifiable by their distinctive, deeply ridged bark.

Tulip Trees are NOT abundant this far north in New York, but I know exactly where to find one small sapling that grows at an intersection along this trail.  Normally, these giant trees are way too tall for me to reach their buds, but because this sapling is still small, I could really examine them.  The purplish twigs were covered with a slight whitish bloom, and the terminal buds were flattened and leathery, quite unlike any other tree buds I have seen.

Driving home through the rural farm fields, I enjoyed sweeping views of distant mountains and low clouds.  I was amazed to see how bare of snow these fields had become, almost overnight.

The obelisk of the Saratoga Battle Monument rises in the distance, beyond these rolling cornfields and wooded copses.


Woody Meristem said...

It's the same down here -- warm and the snow's gone. Soon the skunk cabbage will be up in the wetlands.

threecollie said...

We went right down that road the other day on our way to Whitehall! I love the golden color of the fields and the stark blacks and greys of the trees.