March 19, 2017

A Mild Winter Walk-Off

wet path

Winter and spring have been fighting it out for weeks now--even here in the north, this year. People were golfing without jackets in February, and then winter made a repeat visit last week. Plants are popping up early and trees are pregnant with heavy buds, but everything is on pause until the next warm spell.

I'm sneaking by with this post for Les's Winter Walk-Off meme over at A Tidewater Gardener. This year, the lake is open and some of the birds are nesting early. In the past, I've walked down to the lake for this meme. This year, I decided to head over to a little park near home that's adjacent to a fenced community dog park. For various reasons, I used my iPhone as my camera this time, and for the most part I was pleased with the results.

dog park

The dog park area is fenced in.

neighborhood

A pleasant suburban neighborhood borders the park.

cornus sericea landscape

The day of my walk, the sky was partly cloudy, the temperature was about 45F/7C, and the wind was light. Not ideal for a day at the beach, but not bad for a brisk walk.

snow melt

After the recent snow melt, much of the trail was a bit muddy, but I was able to skirt around the puddles.

trail

Heading up the hill ...

oak opening

The Red-Twig Dogwoods (Cornus sericea) and the remaining Oak leaves (Quercus spp.) were vibrant in the bright landscape.

gall

I noticed a gall that appeared to be chewed (by a bird?).

chickadee nest

Any ideas who built this nest? Later, I saw a Black-Capped Chickadee here, but I'm thinking maybe she was "borrowing" materials for her own nest in a hidden cavity somewhere. (I've read chickadees are likely to use more secretive locations.)

stream

This stream appeared to be a furrow--perhaps created by the farmer who donated this land for the park.

oak forest

The park included several little adjacent ecosystems, including Oak forest, Oak opening, meadow, and prairie--natural habitats of this area of Wisconsin, even before Europeans settled here.

open forest

While thick and dark during the growing season, the Oak forest canopy on the day of my walk was open and sunny.

snags

It was encouraging to see snags of branches that welcome wildlife, mosses, fungi, insects, other life forms, and natural decomposition.

moss 2

moss 1

moss 3

It was the perfect setting to find marvelous mosses.

lichens

And luscious lichens.

quercus macrocarp

It was hard to capture the full effect of this grand Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa), but it made quite a statement in its little patch of land.

open canopy

The cathedral of the forest canopy was pleasant.

meadow

And then I came to a meadow. It had me wondering several things--including whether this was natural or man-made. I've been here before, but only in the fall, and the meadow wasn't as apparent.

lake

Near the meadow was a lake, swelling over its banks during this wet time of year.

carex pennsylvanica

And then I noticed a few plants preparing to expand and grow, including Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica).

geum canadense

And White Avens (Geum canadense).

fungus

This fungus had an interesting shape, too.

leaf litter

It was a pleasant walk across the spongy, warm carpeting of Oak leaves. Nature walks are the best, aren't they?

For more Winter Walk-Off posts, head on over to A Tidewater Gardener. Thanks to Les for hosting.

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It's not too late to join in the Garden Lessons Learned meme. To participate, simply write a post or share one you've already written about your "Lessons Learned" during the past season. Then share your link or simple observations. The link will be available always under the "Lessons Learned" tab at the top of this blog.

42 comments:

  1. I am glad you were able to walk with me again this year. Other than your Florida walk, I think this is the first time you have posted where the predominant color was not white. How wonderful to have so many red twig dogwoods in one place. They are not impossible to grow here, but without super cold weather they never seem to color up as well as how they do in other places. I also notice that you do not seem to be lacking for any moisture either. Things are fairly soggy here as well. If you hadn't told me your photos were from a cell phone, I doubt I would have noticed. Thanks again!

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    1. This is one of my favorite memes. (Walk off winter? Why, yes, thank you!) I think in the past I posted about a February walk-off, and most of the time (and even into March, sometimes) we still have snow then. Yes the Red-Twig Dogwoods are very common here--both in the wild and in people's gardens. They seem to be especially bright toward the end of winter and the beginning of spring. When the light hits them just right, they really glow. The cell phone works OK under some circumstances, but not so much when trying to zoom in from a distance. I think you can buy little telephoto clip-ons now, so I'll think about trying that. Amazing all the power we carry in our pockets these days.

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  2. Nature walks are wonderful. And it's amazing how much you see when you really look. Dogwoods growing wild is a new one on me!

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    1. Yes! I agree: There are so many amazing little miracles living around us every day. So much to see, experience, and learn! Red-Twig Dogwoods are native and very common around here, and they're one of the go-to shrubs for home landscapes. They really seem to glow this time of year.

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  3. I have never seen red twig dogwoods en masse growing wild. What a sight. When I see a nest low like that I immediately think of Red-winged Blackbird. They are notorious for nesting that low. Your walk seemed heavenly to me even tho it was a bit cool. I love it when the mosses start appearing alive again. So many different kinds and all that green is good to see after a winter of grey and brown. The rivers, creeks etc are looking quite full here too.

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    1. Hi Lisa: I'm surprised. I would have thought the Red-Twigs would be common in the wild by you, too. Thanks for the potential ID on the nest. It was a very small one--about double or triple the size of a hummingbird nest. Yes, it was a little cold but so much warmer than last week. And now we're warmer. It feels so good to get out and get some fresh air.

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  4. What a great walk. Nothing makes my spirits soar like the moss and lichen you pictured.

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    1. Hasn't it been great to get outside into the fresh air lately after winter returned for a late tease? I'm so fascinated by mosses, lichens, and fungi!

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  5. Hi,
    I love how you captured the moss.
    I am ready to start getting out in the woods. It is still very wet here.
    Thank you for sharing,
    Carla

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    1. Hi Carla: There's just something about mosses. I feel like they're little fairy lands with little humanoids that we can't see. The imagination runs wild! It's still wet here, too. I took another walk today, as well--a little longer one with my hubby. It was great to get out and exercise. :)

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  6. Lovely walk and photos . . .
    Really is the time to get out and explore
    "new beginnings!"
    In a few weeks we will all be busier . . .
    I think I'll go "exploring" this week . . .

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    1. Yes, busy times ahead! The weather is looking better and better (with a couple of cold setbacks) in the days ahead. It's so encouraging to know that months of hiking and gardening are ahead of us!

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  7. The best part of this meme is seeing the "ordinary" around different parts of the country. Thanks for participating, I enjoyed walking with you!

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    1. Yes, I agree: It's fun to view the transition from winter to spring in many different locales. :)

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  8. Interesting! The wild life is always awesome

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    1. I'm so excited that spring and milder weather are here. Life is rich when we can get outside and explore the natural world without freezing our noses and toes. :)

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  9. What a lovely area to walk. I don't think I've ever seen such a stand of red twig dogwoods. Lovely! You got some excellent shots with your phone. This in and out of winter / spring has me whirling. I'm bringing my plants, especially the potted citrus in and out constantly. I'm ready for spring to stay!

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    1. The Red-Twig Dogwoods are quite plentiful here. Sometimes when I'm driving and the sunlight catches them just right, the views are stunning. Thanks: Re, the phone...it was just chilly enough and I didn't have a lot of time to prepare, so I thought I'd take a chance with the phone. It works OK. You're fortunate your citrus can go out so early. My lemon tree stays inside October through late May. Not many of my outside plants are blooming, but I've been covering the Hellebores each night that gets below freezing. I know they're tough, but I want the blooms to last as long as possible. :) I'm ready for spring to stay, too!

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  10. I always think of this as the muddy brown season, but your photos are a great reminder of all the interesting and lovely things to see in nature even at this time of year. I like to look at all of the bird nests in the barren trees, too, and wonder who they belonged to.

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    1. Hi Rose: Yes, the muddy, brown season is messy. But it's so much better than the bitter cold season, in my opinion. It's simply so nice to be able to easily breath when you walk outside. The migrating birds are starting to move through. I love their springtime shows!

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  11. Beautiful photos, Beth. Nature walks are DEFINITELY the best - no matter how often you go, there is always something new to see. I love this time of year but I'm with Karin - all these swings in the weather are driving my a bit batty. Hopefully we've seen the tail end of that...for a while, anyhow.

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    1. Thanks, Margaret. Yes, always something new to see. :) I hope the weather will settle into a more regular springtime pattern, too. It's always a fight between winter and spring, but this year the fight seems more dramatic than usual.

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  12. Beautiful. Thanks for taking us on your walk :)

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    1. Thanks, and you are welcome. Even during the gray/brown days, there are interesting treasures to find.

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  13. What a wonderful walk. And quite a walk it was. It made me think I should go and explore the big park in my town which I have never visited - and I've been in the area if not the town for over 35 years! We still have snow on the ground, melting slowly.

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    1. Thanks, Pat. There are so many great hiking trails and parks around here. No snow here, although we have some big puddles. I hope the snow is done for the season!

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  14. Your landscape looks quite a bit like ours.

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    1. Yes, I suppose that makes sense. Sometimes you guys are way ahead of us. Do you have Daffodils and Tulips blooming? It's not quite happening here yet.

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  15. These images look so North from where I am this week, Majorca. I am working now with new blooms for photos and they are so colorful! You will not believe but I envy your walk and the landscape.

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    1. No, I don't believe you would envy the landscape. I'd like to be in Majorca, too! Actually, today was a beautiful day here. Spring is really making progress now. :)

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  16. The red twig dogwoods are stunning against the neutral background...and wow, that fungus! What a pleasant walk.

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    1. Yes, the Red-Twigs are stalwarts here. They add wonderful pops of color in the winter landscape.

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  17. You always find something beautiful in nature if you only look closely enough! I love how striking the red twig dogwoods are. The red is brilliant on a gray wintery day. The oak tree is so beautiful too.

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    1. True: Beauty is all around us in every season--even winter. Too bad winter is so cold--otherwise, I'd go out in it more often. ;-)

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  18. Loved following you along on the walk. Your photos are evocative. That Red-Twig Dogwood is spectacular. /susie

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    1. Hi Susie: Thanks for coming along. It was a fun walk. I need to take another hike soon. It's so refreshing!

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  19. I haven't heard of this meme. I enjoyed your post! I hope you post photos from this park at different times of the year.

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    1. Sue: It's a very cathartic meme. It's such a good feeling to "walk off" winter! Good idea, re: the park. I'll have to head over there in mid-spring, summer and fall.

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  20. What an enjoyable walk! The red twigged dogwoods against the tan background were stunning. So much beauty even at this time of year!

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    1. True: Every season has its beauty. Sometimes it's uncomfortable to get out into nature to enjoy it (especially in heavy rain, snow, and cold), but it's usually worth the effort.

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  21. your opening reflection is an enchanting picture.

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    1. Thanks, Diana. It's a pretty little park. There are so many wonderful places to hike around here. :)

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