Monday, July 31, 2017

Whiskey Flats State Forest - Part 3

We had hiked a considerable way into Whiskey Flats State Forest (see previous two posts), but it was getting very hot. When I saw what appeared to be the roof of a building off through the trees, I decided we'd gotten too close to civilization and decided to turn around. That was just fine with little Jack, who enjoyed running across the mossy ground:

Seamus, who had been running full speed when we began, was now walking slowly. He was both hot and tired:

The little dogs, however, continued to explore although they didn't run ahead so much anymore. They too had slowed down:

It's pleasant walking after the dogs calm down. There were occasional traffic signs, as this multi-use trail was open to ATVs, dirt bikes and snowmobiles:

I heard what I believed were Hermit Thrushes calling off in the forest:

I stopped at this St. Johnswort plant in bloom and had Seamus come over and sit next to it for a photo. He was hesitant because he was hot and tired, but happy to be sitting once he was there. Photographing black (or white) dogs can be difficult, but the lighting was good here and I hoped the yellow flowers would help make a good portrait of my faithful friend:

The forest began to look barren again as we neared our parking spot:

And by now, we were all moving slowly. It was still early, but the day was heating up:

Can you see that little spot of bright red up ahead on the trail? That's our car, parked a couple hundred feet off the road. It was a welcome sight:

I saw a few mushrooms, but this was the only one with any real color:

There were lots of wild blackberries, but they weren't yet ripe:

We piled into the car when we arrived. I rolled down the windows (no air conditioning) and we headed off down the access road toward the highway:

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Whiskey Flats State Forest - Part 2

The dogs and I were hiking a trail in Whiskey Flats State Forest (see also Part 1, posted yesterday), where most of the ground was carpeted in mosses and lichens:

We took a side trip into a stand of pines and the dogs ran joyously over the mossy ground, dodging tree trunks as they explored:

They were having a grand time:

I saw these two examples of what appeared to be two varieties of Reindeer Lichen. I looked them up online when I got home, and though I learned that there are at least three species, I didn't find much more information. Nonetheless, they are fascinating:

Clover, almost always the leader of the pack, went ahead to explore:

And then Fergus joined her. Notice all the dead small trees. I thought at the time that a big wind storm or snowfall must have been the cause, but now wonder if it was further evidence of the pine false webworm infestation:

We saw a number of stands with such thick moss carpets that I couldn't resist. This is natural beauty of the first order:

Daphne and Seamus thought it was beautiful too:

I was looking at mosses when I saw these little pink dots. I had seen them in a nature blog I follow, so I looked it up when I got home. I thought they were jelly molds, but instead I learned that they were Pink Earth Lichen. The surrounding moss was more Brocade Moss:

And innumerable Pink Ladyslipper plants were growing in the moss. It must have been lovely when they were all blooming. Perhaps I need to return to this trail next year when it's Ladyslipper season:

We continued down the trail but kept taking side trips into inviting areas:

The thick carpets of moss beneath tall pines were the biggest draws for me. But we weren't done yet, and I'll post Part 3 tomorrow:

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Whiskey Flats State Forest - Part 1

It was going to be a hot day, so I decided to leave early and take the dogs to Clear Pond, in nearby Parishville, NY. We were on the road, headed toward our destination, when I noticed a new Multi-Use Trail into Whiskey Flats State Park. I'd been there before and hadn't considered it very interesting, but this might be a revelation and it was only seven miles from home. So we pulled off the road and parked in what seemed almost pure sand. Next to my parked car were Sand Cherries and pine seedlings:

And there were lots of Spotted Knapweed in bloom, an invasive species which does quite well in sandy spots:

I let the dogs out of the car and they took off running, stopping every now and then to sniff something they might find interesting:

Seamus and Jack ran side by side for awhile:

I saw lots of pines other than the usual White and Red Pines, and wasn't sure I could identify them. I looked up the state website on Whiskey Flats State Forest when I got home and learned that Scotch Pine had been planted in the 1930s and 1940s. Yes, of course, many of the pines I was seeing were Scotch Pine. There were also very long needled pines, two needles per bundle, which I never did identify:

I was initially put off by the barren look of much of the forest. It seemed to have been recently logged, though I saw no stumps and no bush left over from logging. Later, when reading the state website, I read that there had been infestations of pine false webworm, a sawfly which defoliates and kills pine trees. So that explained the barren look of the landscape. The good news was that I didn't see any current defoliation:

Furthermore, I began to find that there was some advantage to walking in a forest with such open views. I could see the rolling hills as we approached them and where lanes were going which led off of the main trail:

The only flowers I saw other than Spotted Knapweed were St. Johnswort, and they were exceedingly healthy:

And the dogs were on a new trail, which meant that they were even more excited than usual. That, in turn, meant I had to do more hollering at them than usual. Even big ol' Seamus got so excited and ran so fast that he accidentally bit his tongue. But he kept running even with his tongue dripping blood. They always came when called, though, and eventually the heat and exercise slowed them down:

I'd forgotten bug spray, but to my happy surprise, it wasn't needed:

We took many side trips down inviting lanes and into attractive stands of pines:

This was perhaps the mossiest forest I've ever seen, with much of the ground absolutely carpeted with a variety of mosses and lichens. These two were Common Haircap Moss on the left and Brocade Moss on the right. But we were just getting started, and I'll post Part 2 tomorrow:

Friday, July 28, 2017

Likable Little Horses

Remy is a handsome little guy, built like a full sized horse despite his diminutive size:

Though not actually brothers, they might as well be. They were born only ten days apart and have lived together their entire lives. Like most siblings, they love each other despite occasional squabbles and jealousies:

 Blue is shorter, rounder and shyer than Remy. He's a cute little guy who needs some time to feel safe before he lets his guard down. Despite his otherwise retiring nature, though, he's a tiger when there is grain involved. Remy knows to get out Blue's way then:

 Remy is especially fond of the cows and often follows them around:

 Blue follows Remy, who follows the cows. As for the cows, they are tolerant but don't seem to feel that same fondness for the horses:

 A picture of Remy, the gravel road, the barn, the tractor and Elderberries blooming in the old silo base:

 Remy often stands at the fence and watches the passersby. If an Amish buggy goes by, both horses often run alongside, just for fun:

 Blue's hooves grow much faster than Remy's, and it is Blue's hooves which prompt me to contact our local Amish hoof trimmer:

I was worried that Teddy, the rented bull, might hurt the little horses, but he has been gentle with them, even friendly. In fact, the three of them often move off together, leaving the cows to themselves. I interpret that to mean that no cow is in heat at the time:

 And if I'm in the field doing some work, Remy and Blue are sure to be there, trying to turn it into a play session. In this case, I was busy keeping my eye on the bull, who was watching and slowly moving closer. He seems to be gentle enough, but one should never trust a bull, especially one of a certain age - and Teddy has reached that age:

 When my neighbor drops off grass clippings, the horses run to greet him and eat as fast as they can, because they are pushed out as soon as the cattle arrive:

 Remy tried to sneak back in to grab a quick mouthful, but Teddy the bull gave him a glowering look which stopped him in his tracks:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Cloud Watching, Flights Of Fancy

There was a time when I was young and time was my friend. A summer day, a grassy field and soaring clouds were all I needed to transport my mind to imaginary worlds. Now I am old and again have time to watch the clouds. I looked for poems or quotes about clouds, but in the end decided to simply describe what my imagination saw in them. You will surely see something different, but the reward is in the looking.

Three beasts rising up above the trees, sitting on their haunches and looking toward the left - children's toy versions of (L to R) a Tyrannosaurus (with an eye!), a Crocodile and an Elephant:

 Alpine peaks with a gray cloud stuck on the pointed top of one of them:

 A chubby dog, sitting upright and begging for food:

 An arm emerged out of the blue sky, with its fist clenched, and soundly punched the cloud to the left:

 A mother cloud, giving birth to its second baby, the first baby already heading off to join the herd:

 You think that you can tell the size and shape of that cloud, but there is a hole in its center which leads the explorer upward and into a different dimension, a place which the earthbound observer can only dream about:

 Playful clouds, taking turns flinging each other out into the wondrous sky. The little cloud on the left has just been launched, giggling with glee, its little arms lifted up, and trailing bits of itself behind as it goes:

 A big mouthed cloud, jaws open wide, as a doctor cloud looks down its throat. Will the doctor pronounce it a case of the "Cumulus Cold?"

 From somewhere down in the trees, a white rocket ship of cloud has launched itself up into the sky, on its way to higher levels than the boring, unadventurous clouds might ever imagine:

 Sea creatures in the sky, and they each have a highly developed sense of humor. I can see the glee on their faces:

 Mount Ararat, rising up above the lands of eastern Turkey. I can see Noah's Ark, encapsulated in the ice near the summit. It appears only as a dark smudge because it is inside the ice and snow, but contained therein is a marvelous bit of Biblical history to marvel at:

 Clouds at the county fair, having fun and spinning cotton candy for their friends:

 A baby whale, chasing schools of krill through the ocean: