Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Visit to Tower Hill Botanic Garden

Although I went for the Camellia show, outdoor spring blooms ended up having more of an attraction than the indoor show.  Of course, I also visited the Limonaia and the Orangerie, and I enjoyed the sunlight in those rooms.

I saw these Snowdrops before I even got in the door.  Those poor camellias were doomed.  Here are a few of my favorites:

And the sunny spots in the garden rooms:

Now to get back outside and see what other early spring blooms I could find!

I was not expecting THAT in February!  Guess the groundhog was right this year!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Wildlife Tracking at BHCL

I took a Wildlife Tracking walk at Breakneck Hill Conservation Land today.  Our guide was David Brown, and he took 18 of us off the trails, in search of animal holes, scat, food and fur scraps, and a few tracks he had scouted out around the property.  It was fascinating to learn which animals are present at BHCL that we may seldom see.

We had just gotten started when I noticed this Northern Mockingbird raising its wings and flashing its white wing bars as it walked on the ground.  It is not known exactly why they do this.   Some theorize it is to scare insects, making them easier to catch.

Sign of skunk digging for grubs

and nearby, someone spotted some skunk scat

Luckily, I have never seen a skunk while out hiking....

I have seen Eastern Coyotes at Breakneck Hill, at least three different times.

While this particular scat was in the meadow, David did tell us that coyote scat is often found at trail intersections, left by a coyote as a way to communicate its presence to other coyotes.

White-Tailed Deer tracks

I have seen White-Tailed Deer, including fawns, does, and bucks, on numerous occasions at Breakneck Hill.

Cottontail scat

I have seen cottontail rabbits at Breakneck Hill many, many times.

80% chance this is bobcat scat

The size of the scat was small for coyote, and the location was at a gap in a stone wall, which David said was a common spot for bobcat scat.  I was not expecting bobcats to be around Southboro!  Even just the possibility is exciting!

I have never seen a bobcat except in photos!

Part of the fun of these guided walks is going off-trail!  I had never seen this copse of birches before.  How pretty!

The way this nut was opened was a sign of a Flying Squirrel, yet another animal I have never seen except in pictures!  It's pretty awesome that they are at BHCL just waiting to be discovered!

Vole trail

An interesting section of an apple tree (also off trail)

The trail is on the opposite end of this pond, so I had to photograph the view from this end in case I never see it again!

Tree trunk/branch with evidence of voles gnawing on it

closeup of the gnaw marks

It would have been fun to have had this walk in snowy conditions and see more tracks, but it was warm and beautiful, and we still learned a lot and saw plenty of wildlife evidence!  

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Catching some Light at BHCL

It has been a long time since I have hiked at Breakneck Hill Conservation Land.  It felt a bit like going home.  I missed this land.  It didn't seem to miss me!

As the sun was getting low in the sky, there were puddles of golden light to be found all around.

It felt good to "go home" again!