Saturday, May 17, 2014

Nicholdale Farm, Shelton

Cedar Apple Rust Fungus
Just a few quick shots from the Nicholdale Farm Land Trust property today in Shelton. Near the entrance are several specimen red cedar trees that were just covered in these decorative fungi today. 

I love how easy it can be to identify things sometimes with the Internet. I just Googled, "orange fungus red cedar" and had an ID within a few seconds. Beats paging through identification keys.

The fungus lives in galls that suddenly sprout orange "spore horns" (seriously) in spring after a cool rain. Boy did they ever. The fungus is unusual in that in needs two host species: apple and cedar. And yes, there are lots of apple trees nearby.  

Box Turtle
Heading south of the Land Trust property along the gas pipeline, I walked over a box turtle possibly just sunning himself. The red eyes mean it's a male, and based on the the number of rings on the shell he's about 15 years old. Box Turtles in the wild usually live 20 or 25 years, but in captivity they can last much longer. I hope this guy is able to stay out of trouble for many years to come.

I took a photo of his underside in case anyone catches him again. You can use the markings to help identify individual turtles. Let's call this one Ted. Ted the Turtle. If anyone spots him in the future, take a picture of a belly and let me know. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sleeping Giant - Green Trail (mostly)

Arrowhead I found on the Green Trail - the Giant's Head is in the distance
To avoid the noisy crowds at Sleeping Giant (why do people have to shout at each other along the trails??), it's not enough to just go on a weekday, or to stick to the "quiet side" (Chestnut Lane).  Pick a cool, damp, moody day. It's the best weather for hiking, aside from the hazards of slick rock. I walked almost the entire length of Sleeping Giant, mostly on green,  before I saw a single person. 

Fog on Hezekiah's Knob (Blue Trail)
I set out from Chestnut Lane (no cars parked) and headed up the blue-blazed switchbacks to Hezekiah's Knob, which normally had a great view, but was shrouded in fog. The lack of sun glare and shadows, as well as the general dampness, was better for taking photos, however:

Columbine on Hezekiah's Knob just staring to open
Coming down off of Hezekiah's Knob 
 I then followed the easy Green Trail all the way to the end.  It runs along the center of the Giant, between ridges, along streams and wetlands. I found a broken quartz arrowhead after passing the Red Circle Trail. The rock formations and wild leeks were set to the sound of a babbling brook, spring peepers, and singing birds. I couldn't hear any cars or people. It was great. 

Wild Leeks and Red Trillium

Wild leeks line a stream in front of a cliff along the green trail

Really Big Millipede (about 3" long)

Red-Backed Salamander found next to a letterbox
 After a long walk between ridges, the Green Trail gradually rises to a ridge walk and abruptly ends at the Chest with amazing views (the fog had cleared by this time). 

End of the Green Trail

View of New Haven and East Rock

Friday, May 2, 2014

Peak Wildflowers at Sleeping Giant

Late spring this year, and the woodland wildflowers are finally at their peak today. Trout Lilies peaked last week (the Tower Trail was full of them), but the Blood Root, Dutchman's Breeches, Trillium and Marsh Marigolds were at their best today.   Compare with a post from April 24, 2010, when many of these flowers were past their peak and the Columbine (which blooms a bit later) was in full bloom.  Here's a sampling from today, in no particular order.  The greatest concentration of wildflower was near the intersection of the Violet and Red Circle Trails, and there was a whole lot of water gushing down the brook. But there are plenty of wildflowers going up the Tower Trail if you're looking for them (especially Trout Lily).

Blood Root, Tower Trail

Trout Lily, Tower Trail

Dutchman's Breeches and Red Trillium, Violet/Red Circle Junction
Marsh Marigolds - Red Circle/Blue in Tarkaland ;)
Fiddleheads and Dutchman's Breeches, Tower Trail
Garter Snake, Nature Trail

Dutchman's Breeches - I forget where.

Trout Lily, Tower Trail

Dutchman's Breeches, Violet/Red Circle Junction

Flooding on the trail at Red Circle/Violet Junction

Dutchman's Breeches, Violet/Red Circle Junction
Foliage of Bloodroot and Wild Leeks aka Ramps
(Never, ever, ever dig these up)

Partridgeberriesleft over from last fall. Giant's Elbow, Violet Trail.