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

Sunday, September 03, 2006
Manchester-Essex Woods Spicebush Swallowtail
While walking through the woods last weekend I picked a leaf off a sassafras tree. At home I put it in a container and took a shower. When I came back down, the most amazing larvae had emerged from the fold in the leaf--a spicebush swallowtail larvae, as colorful as a tropical fish, yet native to the New England woods. For the past week I've been watching this amazing creature go about its life. The most surprising thing is how it only briefly emerges from it's fold in the leaf and always returns to it. It grazes the surface of the leaves and often eats them down to the stem, then returns to the same fold for a long nap. It tends to be out more in a early evening but I've seen it emerge at all times. It will be interesting to see what happens as it matures and forms a chrysalis. I'll keep you posted.

The resting place for the larvae.

Hi, I'm probably the last thing you'd expect to emerge from a folded over leaf!

Watch me strut my stuff.

posted by Dennis 4:40 AM
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Manchester-Essex Woods
This weekend we're under the influences of a tropical storm with some rain and high winds. I managed to avoid the rains and the winds were light on the forest floor so it was surprisingly good photography weather.

Flat-topped aster along the trail near the pond.

Arrowhead arum in bloom on the margins of Heron Pond.

More arrowhead arum, one of the prettiest of our fall flowers.

A toad deep in the woods.

Another view.

I suspect this is another coralroot, an orchid.

Some of the many mushrooms on the forest floor.

Indian pipe in various stages (the flower eventually points straight up).

A closeup of the blossom.

A fungi.

Small whorled pogonia with marker.

Another small whorled pogonia.

A jelly fungi.

Hairy cap moss spore cases rise from the moss.

posted by Dennis 2:24 AM
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Manchester-Essex Woods
I walked the woods last weekend but have been too busy until today to post the photos of what I've seen.

Cardinal flower blooms in Cedar Swamp.

Wood aster blooms on a cliff ledge on the back side of the pond.

This beautiful feather was alongside the trail and I thought nothing of it.

Then about 20 feet away I found this feather from the same bird and realized their had been a serious life-and-death struggle.

Fungi growing on a dying tree. Nature's recyclying plan.

Indian cucumber berries in various stages of ripoeness.

A skunk cabbage seedpod reasts in a wetland area.

Arrowhead arum flowers on the margins of Heron Pond

Another view of arrowhead arum.

Green wood orchid gone to seed.

Turtlehead about to bloom in the wetlands.

A wetland mint, perhaps northern bugleweed.

Another mint in another wetland.

A puffball fungus.

A puffball fungus with an opening for the pores to escape. If you step on it a cloud of gray/black spores are ejected into the air and dispersed by the wind.

posted by Dennis 1:55 AM
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