Because of a painful eye issue that made me want to keep my eyes closed, I hadn't ventured out except for necessities for more than a week. But lucky for me, just as the pain was subsiding and I could reliably see where I was going, my friends arranged to meet for a walk at Meadowbrook Preserve in Queensbury this week and asked me along. One of the things that's so inviting about this preserve is that it incorporates several different habitats, with well-kept trails that lead through all of them. So we had a chance to find all kinds of natural things to fascinate us.
When we first started out, we crossed a vast open meadow, some of it dry and other parts of it open wetland. The remnants of asters and goldenrods were evidence of the dryer parts, while multitudes of Sensitive Fern spore stalks indicated they'd risen from frozen muck (now covered with snow).
We soon moved into an extensive forested part of the Meadowbrook Preserve. The snow-covered trail through the woods was so well-packed we needed neither snowshoes nor ice-grippers to safely walk along it. Here, my friends (L-R) Tom, Dana, Noel, and Sue pause while I studied some Red Maple buds that were littering the snow.
We did not have to consult our guide books to know that American Beech trees (Fagus grandifolia) thrived in this woods. Just a glance around revealed the presence of many young ones, all holding onto their golden leaves that won't fall until new leaves emerge in the spring.
And of course, we found fungi! A winter woodland walk would be so much less delightful without them. Even if I didn't know what to call it, I still marveled at the beauty of these golden overlapping caps, crowned with snow. The caps seemed too thin to be Turkey Tail and not wavy enough to be Stereum.