I follow a bunch of folks on Instagram who specialize in pictures of birds. These folks take amazing pictures and I’m a little embarrassed to post this picture which compared to theirs is pretty pathetic. To get good pictures of birds, the first requirement is a good telephoto lens, a tripod, and a significant commitment of time. Today I was in the woods next to my office with none of those things. I had a 100mm lens, hand held, and only a short time to grab a few pictures. I wasn’t thinking of bird pictures when I went out. But I wasn’t in the woods long when I noticed more than one Baltimore oriole flitting around among the trees. This is the best shot I was able to get and even this is only adequate to identify this as an oriole. Maybe one day I’ll get some of the fabulous photos of birds that I enjoy from others. But this is not that day.
Tagged With: Woods
I’m reasonably happy with my commute. On a good day it’s under 15 minutes and it’s pretty rare that it takes as long as 25 minutes. On the other hand, it isn’t the most picturesque commute you’re going to find. There’s are a few bits that are nice, though, including a stretch of woods on both sides of Rock Creek. In my homeward bound commute, that’s also the most likely stretch to have a back up. Today, I stopped part way along that stretch and was able to take a few pictures of the woods before we started moving again. The woods are quite lovely right now and I don’t mind a short stop if I have that to look at. Pretty soon it will be a lot less interesting, so enjoy it while you can.
It started raining yesterday morning and it’s been raining fairly steadily since. The forecast has that continuing another 24 hours or so before it clears up. It is, however, unseasonably warm. It was cool this morning but later in the day, even with the rain, it was up around 60°F (16°C). The cool morning, however, meant some beautiful fog. I love a foggy morning (or day, night, or evening, for that matter). I especially love being in the woods when it’s foggy. This morning, as usual for a Sunday, I was at church setting up and running the sound system. Nevertheless, I took a short break while the musicians were practicing to walk around outside and take a few pictures.
It rained overnight but was mostly clear today and quite warm for mid-February. After a meeting that ran from 11:30 to just before noon, I walked a bit in the woods and upland area next to my office. First, I walked down into the woods above the drainage pond where a fair sized flock of cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) were bouncing around in the underbrush. If I had a tripod and a longer lens I think I could get some pretty good photos in that area. As it is, this is good enough for identification purposes but it isn’t going to win any awards. Still, it was nice to be out with the birds in 60°F weather in the middle of winter.
The family traveled to Pennsylvania today. It’s always good to get everyone together but today was a mixture of joy and sadness. Joy because we were with family, outdoors on a cool day in May. Sad because we came to bury Albert’s ashes. We decided that it would be appropriate to bury them under this large tree, a North American white oak (Quercus alba, not to be confused with the English white or common oak, Q. robur). Based on its circumference, estimates of its age range from about 250 to over 300 years, although we’ve never had it actually dated with a core sample. We’ll just continue to assert it predates the American Revolution.
We used to have a tire swing on this tree and in the 1960s we camped near by in the field that later came to be called the Christmas Tree Field. It’s now difficult to see where the woods ended and the field began, as it’s all pretty much grown up with trees, although there is still a wood duck house on a tree that’s near what was the edge of the field. After we started camping in what is now the yard, we didn’t get over to the tree quite as often.
As for the name of the tree, that was given by some neighbors shortly after the death in 1981 of General Omar Bradley. There is, in some circles, a tradition of naming large oaks after generals and when one of the neighbors mentioned the name to dad, he liked it and it’s pretty much stuck. It’s all very unofficial, of course and this tree is just in the woods on our property, not in a park or other public place. Omar Bradley was the last of nine five-star officers in the US military, having been promoted to General of the Army in September, 1950. Only George Washington and John Pershing, Generals of the Armies (plural) have ranked higher than the nine five-star officers.
It was cool but nice out today but we were indoors for most of the day. In the late afternoon I really wanted to get outdoors, at least for a little,and take a picture or two. We often walk around the block but I didn’t really want to do that. There generally isn’t much to photograph, especially this time of year, unless I’m willing to walk up into peoples’ yards and possibly lie on the ground. That’s not really my style. I suggested we drive to the other end of the neighborhood, park at the park, and walk a little ways in the woods. We went down stream to where there are two bridges crossing the streams and then back up the other side. The woods are mostly American beech (
I’ve already posted a picture for this date but kind of like this one, so I’ll post it, too. This is the view out of my office window. I was at work later than usual today and the light on the clouds was quite dramatic. I took a few “standard” shots but the sky was so bright the trees went very dark. I took a set of three, exposure-bracketted images and combined them as a single HDR image. It’s a bit unnatural looking but I like it.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I went to Seneca Creek State Park this afternoon and walked just short of 3 miles in the woods. It was a cool but pretty day with deep blue skies. The woods are predominated by tulip poplars (Liriodendron tulipifera) with a significant number of other deciduous trees including oaks, maples, beeches, and various smaller trees. I think the fact that they grow so quickly accounts for their numbers, as they outgrow the slower growing but longer lived hardwoods. Eventually, the oaks, maples, and beeches will outlive this first growth of poplars and it will all even out or even lean towards the others. But for now, the wood is filled with the straight trunks of the tulip poplar.
We walked another section of the upper Rock Creek trail today. We parked at Redland Middle School and went from there to Lake Needwood. This section of trail is mostly level with just a little up and down. It follows the creek and included crossing Muncaster Mill Road. Although there is a crosswalk, you pretty much have to wait for someone actually paying attention who stops, as they are supposed to do. The path and creek also go under the Intercounty Connector (MD 200). Our walk was about 2.5 miles round trip, although it didn’t actually feel like we went that far. I was nice to be in the woods, although the humidity was very high and we were pretty well drenched by the time we got back to the car.
Cathy and I took a walk on the west side of Lake Frank after work today. The heavy rain we had yesterday meant that the water level was high, but the trail wasn’t too muddy. We enjoyed being in the woods, hearing the birds, frogs, and insects, and being away from traffic and people. We saw large patches of partridge berry (Mitchella repens), which we hadn’t notice there before. Today’s photo, though, is of the ubiquitous Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), a common perennial in our woods.
Cathy and I took a short walk in the park this afternoon. It’s been cool and damp and it was very pleasant in the woods. I took a few photos, as usual, but nothing particularly spectacular (also as usual). This is a fleabane (Erigeron) of some sort, and pretty common around here. It’s one of the few things still blooming. There were berries on the Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) as well as on the ornamental pears. When the Bradford pear was first introduced, it didn’t bear fruit because it had no other variety to pollinate its flowers. Over time, there was either enough variation in the genetic makeup or some trees were sold as Bradford that were not. Now they all bear small, round pears.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I went for a walk in the local park this afternoon. In the winter I have to look a bit more for things to photograph but there’s generally something if you take the time. There was a time I didn’t care for the fact that some trees keep their dried leaves on until spring but I’ve come to enjoy beech trees, especially when the winter light is shining through them. That’s not the case here, but with the smooth bark of the tree and their nice texture, I still like them. It’s one of our best native trees and they’re very common in the woods. I large beech tree is an impressive sight.
Cathy and I went for a walk near Meadowside Nature Center this afternoon, heading upstream on North Branch Rock Creek. On the west side of the creek, back into the hillside a little, is this spring. I have no idea how long it’s been enclosed in stone but it has the look of something done quite a few years ago. For all we know, it predates the nature center and was built when there were homes or farms along the creek. There wasn’t a lot of water coming out but there was some, possibly enough for a small home if you work it right.
In our second attempt to reach Bluebell Island, we walked south on the Seneca Bluffs Trail from the parking area on Montevideo Road. Looking at the map, this comes close to the creek just below the island. We found, unfortunately, that when you get to that point, you’re on the top of the eponymous bluffs. We could have worked our way down to the creek but decided it wasn’t worth the effort. We could see that on the far bank of the creek the bluebells (Mertensia virginica) were blooming in great profusion. We saw other wildflowers and the hike was a success, in spite of the fact that we didn’t get to our planned destination. This yellow trout-lily (Erythronium americanum) is one of our prettiest spring flowers, photographed under some large Canadian hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis).
We met up with our good friends, Rob and Susie today and went for about a three mile walk through the woods. We were heading towards where we knew there would be Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) and it was a lovely walk. We came upon a patch of yellow trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) as seen on Saturday, May 15, 2021. We had to walk further than I expected to get to the bluebells and we could have parked closer, but the walk through the woods was really nice, so it wasn’t a waste.
Cathy and I went out for a walk around Redgate park today, making a circuit of the entire former-golf course. We didn’t see a lot of wildlife, although we did see a great blue heron at a pond and quite a few Canada geese. There were, as usual, lot of little birds in the bushes at the edges of the woods and in the dried weeds that now fill most of the old fairways. We are pretty sure some were bluebirds but beyond that we didn’t really identify any. Almost certainly many were sparrows.
Last year I posted my final photo-a-day photo after ten years of taking at least one picture every day. That photo, like the first ten years earlier, was of Cathy on a walk we took on the North Branch Rock Creek, leaning against a large sycamore tree. We actually took the same walk today, a year later. The Kengla trail runs from the Kengla House, which is across the street from the entrance to Meadowside Nature Center, north to and under the Intercounty Connector (the ICC, MD 200). There it meets the Rock Creek trail, which crosses the creek. We took the right hand side—we didn’t cross the creek—and followed that up a side creek past a large drainage pond to the Norbeck Meadows Neighborhood Park, between Valley Forge Drive and Custis Drive, both off of George Washington Drive, a little further than we went on last year’s walk. It’s a nice walk and fairly easy.
Our favorite spot is a small side creek that has two, very large sycamores growing on the bank, with the creek going between them. The photo of Cathy I posted on December 31 last year was taken there and took a few more of her there again today. The first of them is Cathy just above where the two trees are and the second is standing next to the tree on the southern side of the small creek. I’m pretty pleased with them both.
This year has been a challenge and I don’t think I need to elaborate on why. The restrictions imposed in response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic have become quite tiresome. We continue to work mostly from home, although we both go to the office now and then. I try to shop for groceries early on Sunday morning when the store is least crowded (not least because I simply dislike crowds). We have tried to get out and walk as much as possible and did that most weekends. We also managed to get away for a few days, as you may remember from early October. We’re surviving, obviously, but there are times when we just want to take a break from it all. Nevertheless, we continue to soldier on as best we can. Here’s to a better year in 2022.
God bless you all.