Seasonal Signs
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Dennis Curtin's journal of natural events in and around Marblehead, Massachusetts

Sunday, June 27, 2004
Leggs Hill
A quick walk through Leggs Hill turned up some new flowers.

Yellow Goatsbeard seedhead

Musk Mallow

Viper's Bugloss with moth

Viper's Bugloss close-up

Rough-fruited Cinqfoil

Blackberry almost ready

Hoary Alyssum

Bladder Campion everywhere

posted by Dennis 4:16 AM
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Saturday, June 26, 2004
Portable Studio
I'm piecing together a portable studio that lets me take pictures of those flowers that grow low to the ground. It also makes it easier to photograph in a breeze or bright sunlight. I can also control the background so the flowers stand out better. Here are some of the first results. What do you think?

Herb Robert

Herb Robert

Lady's Thumb

Lady's Thumb

Yellow Sorrel

Trout Lily seedheads

posted by Dennis 1:38 PM
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Lynn Woods
I climbed to the steel tower on Sunday morning and there was a red tailed hawk perched on its railing. I took some photos that differ somewhat from my usual posts.

Steel tower with hawk on top

An abstraction

An old concrete platform, probably for the stairs

Sweet Fern with edible seed pods

A stand of sweet fern

One of the year's first mushrooms

Blueberries-just can't stop photographing them

Lady Slipper flower turns to seed pod

Cow Wheat



A Fungi

Moss that grows as pads

posted by Dennis 12:39 PM
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Sunday, June 20, 2004
The Path
I left early for a walk along The Path in Marblehead and had hardly started when a dead calm turned into a windy morning. Despite the wind I was able to get some good pictures. For some it was a matter of simply waiting for a pause in the wind. For others it was high tech high speed flash.

A Spotted Knapweed flower breaking out of the pod

Spotted Knapweed, pretty but invasive

Spotted Knapweed

Spotted Knapweed

Mullein shot against the sky



Bladder Campion

Moss in morning light

Milkweed with visiting bumblebee


Moneywort in the Forest River woods

Rosa Rugosa

Stinging Nettle

Curled Dock

Curled Dock up close

Black Mustard

Black Mustard (find the little bug)

Silvery Cinquefoil

Water Hemlock

posted by Dennis 10:44 AM
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Saturday, June 19, 2004
Lynn Woods
Five hours of steady walking through Lynn Woods is tiring! But it was a good day, damp and misty in the morning, then thunder as I was leaving. In the middle some scattered drizzle, not enough to make it worthwhile to even cover the camera. The only surprise is that the blueberries still aren't ripe.

Whorled Loosestrife

Fungi on a rock

Partridgeberry flower and emerging blossoms

Canadian Mayflower berries

Sheep Laurel

Wild Sarsparilla

Hop Clover

Yellow Sorrel

Water Hemlock

Star Toadflax

Moth on Canadian Mayflower leaf

Grass flowering

Common Speedwell

Fungi on log

Fungi like peeling paint

Dogwood in the woods

Sweet Fern but despite it's name, a shrub

posted by Dennis 2:44 PM
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Thursday, June 17, 2004
The Path
Yesterday I walked the 5 mile path on the old railroad bed that overlays Marblehead like a wishbone. It was early morning and the light was good so I took a lot of photos, turning what is normally a one hour fifteen minute walk into three hours. The highlight of the walk was when a raccoon and I startled each other. His "fight or flight" response was to climb a tree, mine was to take a picture. The blue-eyed grass photos were taken on my porch. I had brought home a stem with what I though were berries on it. It turned out they were blossom pods and started unfurling. It's easier to take good photos in a studio-like setting where there is no wind and you can control the light and background.

The raccoon

Water Hemlock

Blue-eyed Grass

Blue-eyed grass

Crown Vetch

Yellow Iris

Lead plant in Lead Mills

A Bedstraw (I believe)

Spittlebug foam hiding place on a Hawkweed plant

Bittersweet Nightshade

Geraniums mostly gone to seed

Multi-flora Rose

posted by Dennis 2:41 AM
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Sunday, June 13, 2004
Lynn Woods
It turns out that on a Sunday morning I'm only 12 minutes from Lynn Woods by car. The woods are different on a Sunday Morning with many more people enjoying themselves. Hard core runners dominate early in the morning and then families and couples later in the morning. However, the crowd is more noticeable in the parking lot than in the woods itself because 2200 acres holds a lot of people.

Orange Hawkweed with blossoms opening in the morning light

Blueberries are almost there

Union Rock, one of the Wood's landmarks

A red squirrel chattering loudly to protest my presence

Signs mark major roads (14 miles of them). The small blue signs tell you map coordinates (C7) and the trail intersection in that area of the grid (1).

Greenish-flowered Pyrola

Chipmunks are everywhere

Blue-eyed Grass has mostly gone to seed but I found one unopended blossom

Pale Corydalis in a repeat appearence

A moth mistakenly thinking it's hidden below a leaf

Teaberry with some of last year's berries

posted by Dennis 12:10 PM
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Thursday, June 10, 2004
The Big Apple
I would love to do a series of wildflowers in the city but don't spend enough time there. Most people have the mistaken impression that the beautiful or interesting photos are somewhere else. However, most of the great photographers shoot in their own backyard. That's the area they know best. On a recent trip to New York, my daughter, granddaughter, and I took an early morning walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and I tried a few pics even though I didn't have a good camera with me. The Brooklyn Bridge is in the background of both pictures. I assume in the city it would be best to show context and not make the flowers look like they were shot in Vermont.

Red Clover

Daisy Fleabane

posted by Dennis 3:07 PM
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Lynn Woods
It was a day of light rain and changing light, ideal for a walk in Lynn Woods. I spent the morning traipsing up and down the hills of this gem of a park and found much to enjoy. Since it's that time of year I wasn't too surprised to encounter a snapping turtle looking for a place to dig a nest for its eggs. However, I was a little surprised that it was on a forest path, a long way from the water. It didn't object to posing for a few pictures before we went our separate ways. I also found my first ripe blueberry of the season. I photographed it first and then ate it. Amazingly sweet for so early in the season.

Blueberry ready for eating

View of Boston from Mount Moriah

Sheep Laurel

Pale Corydalis

Very large snapping turtle

Ragged Robin


Mouse-eared Hawkweed


Calocera viscosa fungi

Lady slippers are scattered like gems through the forest floor

Maple-leaved Viburnum


A woodland scene

posted by Dennis 12:34 PM
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Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Treasures of Wyman Woods
For years I have looked for orchids in Marblehead and until recently had only found Helleborine. Then, a few weeks ago I took a new route in Wyman Woods and there they were--eleven Pink Lady Slippers. Let's hope these aren't dug up the way the Hepatica was. The woods were also spotted with bright red, the tell-tale sign of wild Columbine.


Pink Lady Slippers

posted by Dennis 4:37 PM
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Lynn Woods
Rob Kipp and I spent the morning exploring Lynn Woods. This oldest and largest urban park in the US is full of wildflowers and amazing scenes. Here are just some of the photos I was able to capture on a three hour walk. Some of them, including the Blue-eyed Grass, Yellow Star Grass, and Rattlesnake Weed are new to me. I've looked for them in other places but this is the first time my path has crossed their little spot. We were fortunate to bump into Dan Small, the park ranger. He was a deep well of information and kind enough to get in his truck and look for us later to deliver trail maps. He may have figured that was easier then assembling a search team to look for us after dark.

The stone tower

Orange Hawkweed

Pointed Blue-eyed Grass

Pointed Blue-eyed Grass

Dwarf Cinquefoil

Wild Sarsaparilla

Rattlesnake Weed

Creeping Buttercup

Yellow Star Grass

Yellow Star Grass

Rob Kipp talking to a fellow hiker

posted by Dennis 2:46 PM
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Around and About
All of these photos were taken 2 to 3 weeks ago but I have been to busy to post them. They were all taken on walks around Marblehead.

Lilly of the valley

Lilly of the valley


Wild geranium

Wild geranium


Lilly pads

Canadian geese chicks

Thyme-leaved speedwell

Thyme-leaved speedwell

posted by Dennis 2:23 PM
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