Saturday, February 20, 2016

Warm Afternoon Walk in Hockomock Swamp

Hockomock Swamp is a different place on a warm February day with no snow.  I was out there with my son for a few hours today.

 Prince's pine is a lycopod, remnant of a group of plants that formed the first forests
--long before the dinosaurs, and before flowering plants or even conifers evolved.

 This scrub black oak is more characteristic of dry hilltops than swamps.

 One of many culverts that allow water to pass beneath the rail bed.

For some reason, I can't walk past open water without taking a photo. I just gravitate to it, I guess.  Though it is fifty degrees and sunny today, and has been well-above freezing for days, some ice still remains--especially in the shade.

 My son is at an age where he cannot pass by ice without testing it
--as long as someone is close by to pull him out, at least!

 Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) is a significant tree in this swamp.

 There are several conifers with scale-like needles.  I know this one is 
Atlantic white cedar because of the ball-like cones on this bent-over tree.

 Paper birch is often bent over by the weight of snow, sometimes breaking,
sometimes bending over to form graceful arches over the roadbed.

 Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis).  I only noticed it by spotting
a fallen twig and looking to see where it had fallen from.

 My son lifted a stone and discovered this blue-spotted salamander
that had been sheltering from winter.  We replaced the rock as best we could.

 yellow birch (Betula allegheniensis) has the shreddy bark of some birches,
but in a yellow-gray color.  Around here, this is a tree that says, "wild."
 My son spotted several large pieces of railroad ties that showed the roadbed to have been
beside the current track, rather than on it.  Although most parts of this bed are overgrown,
you can see how level and board-flat the exposed parts are.

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