Nature photography from a woman in the woods

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Chasing Shadows . . .

shadow1” … I was crying because I can’t get my shadow to stick on.” ~ Peter Pan

Remember the scene in Walt Disney’s version of Peter Pan where Peter is chasing his shadow around the room?  I hadn’t thought of that since I was a kid,  until I saw my little one year old nephew trying to catch his shadow.  It started with just his hand trying to trap his hand’s shadow on the table .. Then, it increased in intensity a few weeks later as he now tenaciously crawls across the floor at great speed to catch his shadow.  When the angle of the light changes as he gets closer to it, it causes his shadow to change and then his shadow disappears on him.  He stops, looks around and then heads off in the opposite direction where his shadow now is.  We laugh as he entertains us …. he is a very determined shadow chaser.

I did my own form of shadow chasing today … It feels like months since we have had a relatively warm (above 30) day with “sunshine”.  There was some fresh untouched snow, also,  that made the shadows  vivid. (until the dog ran through to figure out what I was looking at …)

Pileated Woodpecker . . .

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-11-48-13-amIn the new and deep snow on the ground where he dropped the block of suet.

The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest breed of woodpecker in the United States .. I would say that the pair living in my woods are about the size of a raven .. very big.  This is the first year they have decided to make my yard their home.  I enjoy watching them and find some of their stunts amazing and others annoying … ie:  they know how to open up my suet cage and take out the whole block. Thus making them a bit annoying, too. They are also pecking some of the younger trees to the point I am not sure they will survive.

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-11-49-40-amPileated woodpeckers are commonly mistakenly called a “red-headed” woodpecker .. which they are not.  The red on the head is obvious and bright, but they are not “red headed” woodpeckers. They are called “pileated” woodpeckers.   It makes sense if you know that “Pileated” means “crest” and the crest on their heads is very red.  The whole head and neck is red on a “red-headed” woodpecker (which do not live in my area).

Hairy woodpeckers are numerous in my yard this winter (working on getting a picture).  They like to peck on the log corners of my house, it sounds like someone knocking at the door.  Hairy woodpeckers are small  black and white birds with a small dot of red at the back of their head. Not sure why they are called “Hairy” although the feathers on their bellies do look very soft and fluffy. Woodpecker names are very confusing as there is also a “red bellied” woodpecker .. who has no red on its belly, just a stripe down the back of its head.  And, Flickers are considered woodpeckers, too.

Pillow Fights? . . .

Pillowfight

“There’s a double beauty whenever a swan Swims on a lake with her double thereon.” ~ Thomas Hood

This year, groups of swans have been hanging out at the lake in the little bay by my house.  The area is protected from the north winds and has a few islands of floating bog for them to walk on.  There is no doubt when they are visiting as they are quite noisy .. trumpeting, splashing and wing flapping.  Those huge wings make awesome sounds as they fly overhead, slide into the water on landing, or flap on the water when they take off .. it is amazing how those big birds fly.

The leftovers, feathers, that remain look like a pillow fight has taken place … and how they interact with each other, maybe they really do have pillow fights.  😉

pillowwinner

The swan in the pool is singing,
And up and down doth he steer,
And, singing gently ever,
Dips under the water clear.
~ Heinrich Heine

 

 

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Looking Inside . . .

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
~ Albert Einstein

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

 

insidedandy

Looking into things, investigating, searching, finding a different perspective, shining a light through, …. sometimes it does not take imagination and fantasy so see things in strange new ways.

“Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”
~  Dr. Seuss

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Fireweed . . .

fireweed1

 

The flower showing off  in abundance this week is the fireweed.  A common late summer flower in Minnesota, it is flaming in the ditches everywhere (well, almost).  From a distances the flower groups do look like pink/purple flames blowing in the breeze.  Up close, they are delicate looking flowers that are a popular hangout for many honey bees, dragonflies, butterflies and other insects. (click images for full-sized version).  It grows best in areas that have been recently cleared or burned and it seems to thrive near areas of moisture found in the ditches along wooded roads.

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 Fireweed is the only type of fire Smokey Bear is okay with.  In honor of Smokey’s 70th birthday this weekend (August 9th)… Remember.

Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires!

The Wild Edible Race . . .

“I love berries. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, black berries,

anything with an ‘errie’ in it!” ~ Jordin Sparks

 

hazelnut

There are a several wild  foods out there in the summer woods that are worth waiting for, working to get, suffering bug bites for, and racing the critters to.

Above, is a picture of a hazel nut .. probably the hardest wild edible  to pick at just the right time.  If you pick too soon, they are green, bitter, mushy … icky.  If you wait too long, the squirrels get them all.  It seems the squirrels have a secret radar and know exactly the time/day of ripeness and they pick them all and stow them away fast.  When I see a squirrel picking them, I know I need to get out at that very  moment if I want a small handful of them … because they will probably all be gone by the next day.

And, then there are the berries.  In my opinion, the flavors of the wild variety of berries is 100% better than the tame/gardened varities.  The berries are smaller but the flavor is more intense.  After you have tasted wild berries, you will never enjoy the tame varieties as much.

Wild raspberries are turning pink and a few red ones can be seen.  These are the most abundant berries around my house and I usually do not have to race to get my share.  The squirrels, chipmunks and birds enjoy them .. so do the bears, but they do not come that close to my home.  Besides, there are plenty of them growing everywhere in the woods. Wild blueberries are the most precious to me .. I love them.  The plants had tons of green berries this Spring and I found a handful of blue ones this weekend, so the race to pick will begin.  In the wild blueberry world the race is not just against the critters, it is also a human race to get to the berries in all of our “secret” spots first.
raspb blueberries

The June berries are also ripe and ready to pick.  I am not sure why they are called June berries, because they are never ready to pick in June.  They are a lot like blueberries but grow on taller bushes.  I find their skins are a bit tougher than blueberries, but overall juicier.

juneberry