Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bennett Hill, Part 2

I took Seamus, Fergus and Daphne with me to hike Bennett Hill, a little known nature preserve just outside of Albany in Clarksville, New York. It's a wonderful place to see plants and birds which you're not likely to see elsewhere and also, of course, the more common species. Early in the hike I began seeing this yellow flower. It is Winter Cress, Barbarea vulgaris, an alien in the mustard family:

We'd passed by the farm fields and were hiking deeper into the woods:

I began to encounter this colorful shrub scattered through the woods. It's another alien, the Japanese Honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica. It's always been a favorite of mine for its two-toned, somewhat orchid shaped flowers. They're both yellow and white. The buds are sometimes pink:

The trail began to gain altitude and the dogs were enjoying it very much. I thought Daphne was missing in this photo, but there she is right behind Fergus:

And then we came upon a recent trail improvement. The spring had a new bathtub to catch its water. I don't know why, as it had more decaying leaves in it than water. But someone with good intentions thought it'd be a smart thing to do:

The forest type changed as we ascended, from Hemlock to Maple/Hickory to Pine. In this photo, the dogs have found a spot where the trail was all muddy and messy. Like children, they found this delightful and had themselves some drinks and anointed their bodies with mud for the trip home in my car:

As we neared the top of the hill, I began to see more and more of these tiny yellow flowers. The leaves looked like a Cinquefoil and so did the flowers, but they were all much to small. When I got home, I looked in my field guide and discovered that they are Dwarf Cinquefoil, Potentilla canadensis. So there's a good reason for their diminutive stature:

Onward and upward we hiked, and the forest type turned to primarily pines. There was White Pine, of course, but also another species which I didn't know. When we got into heavy concentrations of pines, the aroma was intense:

And then we reached the rather flat top of Bennett Hill, where I knew from past experience that we'd find an altogether different collection of flora:

The dogs didn't care about the flora. They were having too much fun:

The trail circles around the flat hilltop and every so often one could see the farms and their fields in the valley below:

I set the camera on a log and took a photo of us. Daphne is blurry because she was, as usual, moving like a rocket:

The trees at the top were small pines and it gave a kind of mysterious, adventurous feel to the hike:

Little Daphne is having a lot of deep woods experiences for a puppy. This photo could inspire a children's book about a puppy all alone and lost in the deep and threatening forest if only you couldn't see Seamus' big butt sticking out from behind a tree:

"Hi, Dad. Do you like my mud?"

I've tried to teach the pooches to keep ahead of me so that I can see what they're up to - but not too far ahead. This is me training them about the correct distance, though the real reason I kept the video is for the beauty of the woodland trail:

And one more video today.
We were all alone on the trail, having the hill all to ourselves. Once we reached the flat top, I stopped to take this video in order to show the sights and sounds:

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