I took a couple of other folks out on a hike up the West Fork of Indian River valley today. Our intention was to visit the large hemlock tree my brother showed me a couple of
Weather: It started out cloudy, with the cloud layer at around 2000 feet. By around noon the clouds had started breaking up, and sunny skies prevailed throughout the rest of the day. There was a good breeze, though I failed to note the direction.
Birds: The woods were much quieter than last time I went up Indian River. There were a number of juvenile birds, including Winter Wrens, Varied Thrush, and what I think was a Hermit Thrush.
One of my hiking companions had to head back early and told me later that he had found a hawk feather on his way back. He thought it was from either a Sharp-shinned Hawk or juvenile Goshawk.
As has been the case quite often in recent days, there were eagles active around the neighborhood. One even spent some time perched in a relatively small tree right across from the house.
Flora: Flowers blooming included Heart-leaved Twayblade, Ground Dogwood, Mountain Arnica, plantanthera orchids, and a few others I do not recall right now.
The most interesting plant experience for me was probably the discovery of many patches of Goblin’s Gold moss. I did not have my tripod, so I could not get very good photos of it, but many of the root wads from overturned trees had it growing on them.
We did measure the hemlock tree to be over 100 inches in diameter. In addition to this, we measured a few spruce trees that seemed fairly large. The largest of those we measured was over 90 inches in diameter.
There was a white slime mold in evidence on the trunk of a tree that had fallen down some time ago.
Enchanter’s Nightshade is a small plant that forms a ground cover in some places. It was abundant throughout the hike today, though in one place there was a small area with none growing in it, though it was growing all around. The patch of ground was not totally bare, but it definitely did not have many plants growing in it compared to ground just adjacent. There was not a clear reason that I could see for this to be the case.
Invertebrates: In the middle sister muskeg where I previously observed emerging dragonflies there were many adult dragonflies and damselflies in evidence. I was puzzled somewhat by how small they seemed to be. I am pretty sure the newly emerged dragonflies I saw before were Hudsonian Whitefaces, and today there were definitely many of these flying around. However, the ones flying around today seemed distinctly smaller than what I had seen before. I also noticed this effect with a couple of Four-spotted Skimmers. My best guess is that when their exoskeleton dries, it shrinks somewhat. I previously observed them just just after emergence, so perhaps they were still not completely dried out.
Also in the middle sister muskeg, we had some fun looking at the critters in the puddles. I pulled out a large caddisfly encased in its larval home. Apparently these insect larva build their home with miniture logs which they extrude after processing plant fibers. They are able to stick them together to make a long tube in which they live.
In addition to the many different creatures living below, I happened to notice a spider running across the surface of a puddle. This was not something I remembered seeing before.
This evening the kids brought in a large dark colored moth they had found in the back yard. It seemed unable to fly, though I do not know why. Its underwings were more of an orangish color.
Mammals: As has been the case most times that I have been up this way, there was relatively fresh bear sign. We saw some tracks and places where skunk cabbage had been uprooted, but more significantly there was some pieces of deer hide (that did not look too old, the hair did not seem to be coming out yet). Near the deer hide was a place at the base of a tree that looked like it had been dug up and recovered recently. We took that as a sign to keep moving.
There were a few different locations that looked like deer beds.