Category Archives: nature notes

Flowers, salamanders and more

coltsfoot Coltsfoot – a non-native – is one of the most colorful early spring flowers

The weather has been really warm for two days and only tiny shreds of snow remain, hidden under deep conifers. Yesterday I took a quick walk in the woods and many wildlflowers were already in bloom. As I reached our first pond I heard a great splashing as three or four deer raced out of the water. I expect they were enjoying the new succulent grass in the marshy streambed that feeds into the pond. Today I returned to take pictures of the flowers and in place of the deer, a pair of wood ducks left from the same spot, making their high whistling call as they departed. jeff-laying-eggsds

About 2 weeks ago, Don Scallen and I watched a number of Jefferson’s salamanders laying eggs. This is one of Don’s pictures – much better than mine – nicely showing the egg mass below the female. The egss had not had time to swell. Note the leach on top of the lady’s head!


Today I photographed some egg masses that have developed quite a bit. The white ones are infertile eggs, the darker spots are healthy, developing embryos.

jeff-eggsSome of my favorite woodland flowers are already in bloom. Hepatica comes in a variety of colors. I have one patch that are almost blue, and sometimes striped, others are purple, some are pink and many are white. You can see a few of last year’s three-lobed leaves around the flowers, the new leaves will not appear for at least another week.




Blue cohosh is such an incredible plant when it first appears, with its deep blue-purple leaves and yellow centred flowers. Bloodroot appears with a dramatic white flower and a single leaf clasping its stem. By tomorrow the petals will have fallen off this one.bloodroota



I love the tiny yellow blossoms of the leatherwood tree – a little bonsai in the forest with amazingly flexible branches.