Tuesday, December 11, 2007

73 degrees!

It is 73 degrees this afternoon and been almost that warm the last two days. I know you cannot cite a few warm days in December and say it's because of global warming. Yet, do you ever remember a December that warm? It's setting records everywhere around here.

The warmth prompted me to go on a long hike over our land to see what's up.

This Golden Ragwort (Senecio aureus) was tricked into growing with the warm weather. These leaves usually show up in late February or early March. The yellow flowers do not appear until May.

The ground cedar (Lycopodium complenatum) is evergreen, providing lots of green during winter.

According to Bernd Heinrich in The Trees in My Forest, these lycopods do not send up strobili or "clubs" until spring. Thanks to Tom for correcting me on my first posting--"the fruiting part of the lycopodium is green when it is fresh - those are gone by."

The ground cedar grows on the ground just like its name but these are the tallest ones I've seen. Heinrich has an interesting discussion of how these lycopods save precious energy by not investing in an elaborate support structure like the tree. They take advantage of the sunlight in the winter if they are not under the snow or fallen leaves.

Ground cedar or running cedar as the locals call it carpets the ground on this slope on the way to our back pastures.

I found this old bucket, or part of it anyway, in the pasture. I wonder how old it is and who used it?

In the back pasture, donkeys were looking for a sweet handout. Our neighbor keeps several donkeys on our land (in exchange he maintains some fences and roads). He started raising them a few years ago. He says they are good to scare off the coyotes so he often keeps them together with his cows, especially when it's calving time.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

First Snow!

We received about 2 inches of snow this morning. I snapped a couple of pictures before it started melting.

This Northern Carrdinal ate the berries of the burning bush while waiting her turn at the feeder.

That's Walker Mountain behind all the trees.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


The deer regular firearms season is over so I can venture outside without the fear of being shot. Too bad, though, it's a dreary, cloudy day. Temperatures are in the 40s--not too bad since it is supposed to get colder soon. Luckily, I still have my birds at the feeder and around our yard which I can photograph from the house.

Dark-eyed Juncos or snowbirds as many people call them returned from the north about a month ago. Usually, I see one or two first, maybe like scouts, before I see a flock of 10-20 of them feeding on the ground. In higher elevations around here, particularly on Salt Pond Mountain, they stay all year round. In fact, these birds have evolved slightly differently with dark beaks rather than the whitish-pink beaks of the typical Junco.

I took this picture on Friday when it was still sunny. These birds, along with the Carolina Chickadees, eat the berries of this Burning Bush shrub all winter. The shrub is not native here but I don't have the heart to pull it out since the birds use it for cover and eat the berries.

I liked the way this one was looking at me as I was taking his picture.