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

Sunday, July 23, 2006
Manchester-Essex Woods
Yesterday was a series of rain showers all day. Early in the morning I took a quick hike around the woods. It was like a steam bath because of the soaked earth and high humidity. But I dodged the rain, it started coming down in torrents just as I got back in the car. Despite the shortened hike, I did manage to capture some of what is going on in the woods at the moment. One thing I didn't capture was a large brown owl, one I believe was a barn owl, that flew over my head and across the pond. Although I couldn't see where it landed, the birds on that side of the pond went crazy with alarm calls. I also saw a very large snapping turtle trying to move from one pond into another. Its way was blocked by wire fencing submerged in the water to prevent beaver dams.

Button bush has some of the most amazing flowers you'll see. Golfball sized, and pure white, they are a delight to find in their wetlands home.

A flock of redwing blackbirds in Cedar Swamp.

Deptford pink grows alongside a trail where it can get some sun.

Spotted wintergreen in flower.

There is so much pickerelweed growing in Cedar Swamp that I am determined to get a great picture. I haven't done it yet but here are my two latest attempts.

Rattlesnake plantain, a wild orchid, is just about to flower.

A coral-like fungi.

Another fungi.

A recent American toad hatchling.

A water lily in Cedar Swamp.

posted by Dennis 7:05 AM
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Manchester-Essex Woods
I walked the woods last week but didn't have time to post the photos from that hike. Here they are with an emphasis on fungi. This is their season, especially with the heavy rains we've been having.

Sasparilla berries.

Indian pipe.

A katydid.

The first of many mushroom photos.

Black trumpet, a favored ingredient in French cuisine.

A slimemold.

Swamp candle colors the otherwise all green marsh.

Another swampcandle.

Pickerelweed in Cedar Swamp.

More pickerelweed.

Indian cucumber berries in the woods.

Teabury in flower.

Stiff clubmoss.


Creeping bellflower.

posted by Dennis 6:17 AM
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Saturday, July 15, 2006
Santa Barbara
I spent a week hiking in the mountains outside of Santa Barbara and it was a great time of year. The highlights were the yuccas in bloom, black swallowtail larvae, and one endangered plant species. I still don't have a good California wildflower guide but have done my best to identify what I found. If you find any mistakes, please write me.

Three black swallowtail larvae on fennel.

An enlarged view of the larger larvae.

Two flies on a larvae. Some flies place their eggs on the larvae and they then move inside and eat the larvae from the inside. If that's what these flies are doing, the larvae is doomed.

Steve views Santa Barbara from the heights with yucca for a size comparison.

A yucca that has gone to seed, with Santa Barbara in the background.

Yucca flower blossoms up close.

Yuccas bloom loike this and then die. What a glorious way to exit!

If I have identified this correctly, it's a Weed's Mariposa Lily (Calochortus weedii vestus). This plant is considered endangered and only grows in a few places along the Cold Spring Trail.

Another view of the lily.

A canyon sunflower blossom.

A colorful dragonfly.

A fossile emerges from its sandstone matrix. It looks like an oyster shell.

Laurel sumac in flower.

Now I know why manzantita stems are so good looking. The outer layer peels away to reveal a fresh surface.

Parrots high in the trees.

A butterfly feeds on a blossom.

A lizard warms itself in the morning sun along the trail.

Another lizard basks on a tree trunk.

Cactus blossom.

Cactus, with one part looking like a foot.

Another cactus blosssom.

A California poppy.

Caterpillar Phacelia, so named because it resembles its namesake.

Indian pink.

Cardinal monkeyflower, a wetland plant.

Fennel, the host plant for black swallowtail butterflies.

One of the many picturesque waterfalls along the Cold Spring Trail.

Steve reads a plaque at Saddleback Rock.

Chalk live-forever flowers, odd indeed.

Chalk live-forever has a basal rosette that throws up a flower stalk.

California honeysuckle (I think).

posted by Dennis 11:53 AM
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