Friday, March 22, 2013

A Gradual Greening

 A welcome sight on my way up to the FRC library was the appearance of Duckweed in a drainage ditch.  There are several floating plants that go by the name Duckweed, and after I get out my hand lens and do a little more investigating, I plan to make some drawings and tell a little of the natural history of this plant. 
 Here's a closer view.  Click on it to get even closer.  On some ponds, even the eastern end of Snake Lake, I have seen such dense growths of Duckweed that the ponds' surface resembles a golf green and it's tempting to try to walk on it.  It's also fun to scan the surface for sight of the occasional pair of frog's eyes poking through.  Photos of such sights should be arriving soon.
 I love watching the seasonal appearance of the male and female flowers of the White Alder. The early season appearance of the male catkins contrast with the persistent female cones (not shown in this photo) from last summer.  Soon those will be pushed off by the emerging new cones.  There are a number of healthy-looking White Alders along the road leading to the upper campus at FRC, but one older specimen has an advanced infection of Tongue Fungus.  I'm predicting that one will be cut down this year, but so long as it lasts it's interesting to see how it clings to life even when the fungi outnumber the leaves and flowers of the alder.
My son spotted this new (to me) spider on a tree where I have taken many photos of the Red-breasted Sapsucker.  From its body shape and movement, I guessed it's some type of crab spider, but I haven't yet found it in my field guide. 


  1. If you know all of these things, it's like an adventure every day. Can you recommend a basic text that I could study to know more about these things?

  2. Hi Jon: I don't know all these things when I set out on a hike. The real adventure is finding things out. If you can identify a species with use of a field guide, like John Muir Laws' Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada, then you can Google it to get more natural history information. If you have the time to keep going back to a place and patiently observing, it's even more fun to discover things on your own, backed up by books and knowledgeable people. If you email me with the region where you live, I can recommend more books.

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