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.

hepatica-2

hepatica-pinkhepaticablue-cohosh2

 

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

leatherwood

 

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