Saturday, May 7, 2011

Twilight Walk Discoveries

Common Blue Violet
After a nice dinner at home, we decided to walk to the lake and back before dark. We took a shortcut through the woods where we saw our first mountain violets of the year. Referring to my Audubon Field Guide to Wildflowers, Eastern Region, I found that this is a Common Blue Violet, Viola sororia.

I also saw starflower leaves in these woods, some with tiny white buds. By next week there will be lots of starflowers to post here.

Cinnamon Fern

Next we saw clusters of emerging ferns, their curled fiddleheads just poking up. I believe they are Cinnamon Ferns.

Osmunda cinnamomea is the Cinnamon Fern's Latin name, and you can read more about it in Ferns and Fern Allies of Pennsylvania by Lord and Travis.

Pinecrest Lake

The evening light was lovely when we reached the lake. It's so peaceful and quiet. We hoped to see bats but it may be too early in the year, because it can still get into the 30's at night even in May.

Beaver, Castor Canadensis
We saw something swimming away from the shore and then back again. I thought it must be a dog fetching a stick because a man was standing nearby. A closer look revealed that it was a large beaver. We got fairly close and took some photos but the fading light made details hard to distinguish. I hope you can get the idea.

Castor Canadensis nibbling water plants
Beavers were once hunted nearly to extinction but have returned to healthy populations. They are found primarily in the northern tier of Pennsylvania. Did you know that beavers mate for life? And that females have four or five kits in the spring? And that they get to 30 to 70 pounds as mature adults? The one we saw was quite large, about 3 feet long with a big flat tail. A car approached along the road by the side of the lake, and with a slap of that tail he dove under the water and swam for minutes before surfacing towards the middle of the lake.

What a blessing it is to live in a such a gorgeous place, to be able to enjoy the natural world, an essential balance to my intense and often hectic professional life and a very mixed up world (floods, radioactive disasters, birth certificates, tornadoes and terrorists featuring large in the news right now).

All photos in today's blog were taken by me, Nature Maven.

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