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Friday, February 17, 2006

Seasonal changes

Nethermead Meadow

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Yesterday I took my bicycle up to Prospect Park for a late afternoon ride. The park’s outer roadway was clear of snow but the inner roads and paths were patchy, at best. I ended up doing more slogging than pedalling. The snow should be gone by the weekend. Spotting signs of a changing season was made easier by a bright, low sun.

Sprouting Daffodils

(Photo credit - Rob J)

European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Daffodils are beginning to poke up through the crusty snow. A European Beech tree above a patch of daffodils was showing tiny, scaly buds. Some of the resident gray squirrels were nibbling on the tender, new buds sprouting on Red Maples. A young River Birch at the edge of the Long Meadow had a single catkin at the tip of a twig. A sapling on the south side of Prospect Lake caught my attention. It was covered by small, brown seed pods. The snow below the tree was sprinkled with its minute, brown seeds. I took some photos and discovered that it is a Katsura Tree. It surprised me to learn that the parks department was planting non-native species.

Red Maple (Acer rubrum) buds

(Photo credit - Rob J)

River Birch (Betula nigra)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Katsura (cercidiphyllum japonicum)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Prospect Lake was still mostly frozen and the icy surface was dominated by resting Ring-billed Gulls. While I was scanning the gulls I noticed a Peregrine Falcon circling over the lake. I guess she wasn’t very hungry and, after a minute or two, split off and headed south. When she was in profile I noticed her bulging, full crop.

Prospect Lake looking towards the Wellhouse

(Photo credit - Rob J)

At the edge of the lake behind Duck Island is a very odd, misshapen tree. I’ve been looking at it for 14 years and finally remembered to take a photograph. The main trunk and some of the secondary trunks have deep, concentric ridges. It looks almost as if the tree had been bound with cable while it was growing. It’s probably just a common species with an unusual mutation.

Deformed tree

(Photo credit - Rob J)

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 2/16/2006
Pied-billed Grebe
Northern Shoveler
Ruddy Duck
Merlin (Flying up Lullwater.)
Peregrine Falcon (Circling above Prospect Lake.)
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Fish Crow (3, flying north over Long Meadow.)
White-breasted Nuthatch
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow


dansmamma said...

Hi! I just wanted to let you know that the buds you refer to as European Beech is actually European Hornbeam Carpinus betulus. They look alike in many ways but the buds of the european beech never lies pressed against the twig like that. :) It's such a good picture, so it would be nice if it got a hit on google when searching for Carpinus betulus!

Rob Jett said...

Thanks dansmamma, will make the edit to the caption.

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