Belmont Field Trips

BioBlitz for middle schoolers and Nature Tales for pre-K – the Howard County Conservancy field trips at Belmont had quite an age range.

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Early in the month before a middle school BioBlitz, a red-tailed hawk sat on the Carriage House roof watching the flurry of preparation below. It stayed until the first groups of students arrived to fly away.

The last field trip of the season was a pre-K group. My station was all about trees. I took a picture of it before they arrived. I’d had pulled some tulip poplar seedlings to show since the nearby sycamore trees that I used to talk a lot about had been cut down (before they fell on a nearby building).  The was the calm before the 56 4-year-olds with their chaperones arrived on 4 buses. I was glad that they came to my station in 4 separate groups rather than all at once! The weather was near perfect…the children thrilled to be outdoors…and a good time was had by all…and maybe they learned a little about trees too. It was a good finale to the spring field trip season.

Gleanings of the Week Ending May 25, 2019

Eye's vulnerability to macular degeneration revealed -- ScienceDaily – All cells of the macula are not the same. The ones in the central part (Muller cells) are smaller and shaped differently than the cells around the edges…and they are the ones involved in macular degeneration. Knowing more about the central cells may lead to more focused treatment.

Dangerously High Air Pollution Levels Found in Most U.S. National Parks - Yale E360 – Our national parks are places to enjoy natural beauty…be outdoors. Its very sad to know that air pollution is a problem.

Banana disease boosted by climate change -- ScienceDaily – Black Sigatoka – a fungal disease impacting bananas – is not virtually worldwide. It’s surprising that bananas are still such a bargain in our grocery stores.

Ten Tips for Being a Good Partner - On the Job - AGU Blogosphere – Good tips…and I liked the illustrative examples from real projects.

Oldest known trees in eastern North America documented -- ScienceDaily – In North Carolina there is a Bald Cypress that it at least 2,624 years old!

Does insulin resistance cause fibromyalgia? A newly confirmed link with insulin resistance may radically change the way fibromyalgia and related forms of chronic pain are identified and managed -- ScienceDaily – Researchers dramatically reduced pain of fibromyalgia patients with medication that targeted Insulin resistance.

Dogs Sniff Out Invasive Mussels at Chickasaw National Recreation Area – In the early 1970s, my husband and I often visited this area of Oklahoma (also visiting what was then Platt National Park). Kudos to the people trying it keep Zebra Mussels out of the Lake of the Arbuckles!

Soaking up pharmaceuticals and personal care products from water -- ScienceDaily – A new acronym (PPCPs = Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products). These are being detected in water everywhere usually in low concentrations but increasing…so it’s good that research is underway to develop ways to remove them from water.

A New View of Bird Vision – Cool Green Science – The article describes ways bird vision is being studied and provides examples of specific UV sensitivities in turkeys and red-winged black birds.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: May – National Geographic Society – Last but not least for this week --- enjoy some bird pictures.

Tree Bud Project – Week 3

It’s Friday – I’m updating the status of the branches I brought inside 2 weeks ago (previous posts: week 1, week2). This will be the last post. The flowers and leaves are wilting because the small branches can’t get enough water to the new growth.

The cherry blossoms opened but stayed small – then started to show stress – the delicate white petals wilting.

The tulip poplar branch lasted longer with more and more small leaves emerging from the bud.

Four leaves emerged from one bud and one of the leaves unfolded before they all began to wilt.

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The only branch that didn’t seem to develop at all was the black walnut. Maybe it was just way too early for those buds to develop even in the warmer temperature indoors.

Tree Bud Project – Week 2

It’s Friday – so I am doing an update on the tree branches I brought inside a week ago. See the previous post here. All of them seem to be surviving in the vase of water. I’ve freshened the water every few days. All the pictures are with the 15x macro clip-on lens and my smartphone.

The cherry buds have opened into small white flowers! At first the buds just looked bigger.

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Two days later, the white tips showed beyond the green of the outer covering.

And the next morning the flowers were open! I took a picture of the back and front of the flowers.

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The plum is slower. Some of the buds have not changed at all and I am wondering if they were damaged by cold temperatures. Some look like they are larger. I hope they eventually will open.

The red maple has bloomed and is now drooping. They are wind fertilized…so won’t make seeds in the ‘windless’ house. At first, they looked very red – like little streamers from the bud.

Then the bigger structure grew.

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And now they seem to be drying out.

The tulip poplar has been changing a lot too. At first more buds opened.

Two days later all the buds were larger, and a tiny leaf had emerged from one of them.

Over the next few days other tiny leaves emerged and began to get larger. I noticed the tiny leaves while they were still folded inside the bud too. The bark of the twig seems to be a deeper color too.

I haven’t noticed any changes in the black walnut branch. If the buds do open it should be spectacular with so many buds on the tip of the branch.

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The sycamore buds haven’t changed much either although they seem to be a little larger and their color has shifted to green with some red overtones.

Stay tuned to next Friday for the next tree bud report!

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 16, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Wind Cave, In the National Park, Is 150 Miles Long...And Counting – About 2 miles are surveyed annually and there are about 3,000 unexplored openings that haven’t been checked.

Climate of North American cities will shift hundreds of miles in one generation: New web application helps visualize climate changes in 540 North American cities -- ScienceDaily – The article includes a link to the interactive map. Baltimore Maryland will be like Cleveland, Mississippi in 60 years!

Southern California Will Soon See Another Booming Superbloom | Smart News | Smithsonian – Much better than burn scars and mud slides.

The Obelisks of Heliopolis - Archaeology Magazine – Obelisks taken from the city…a project to understand where they originally stood and the role they played.

In Era of Drought, Phoenix Prepares for a Future Without Colorado River Water - Yale E360 – Living on the edge when it comes to water supply. It’s not just South Africa that has the challenge.

BBC - Future - How Japan’s ancient trees could tell the future –Teasing out how much rain fell in Japan over the past two and half millennia by looking at the preserved wood of ancient forests.    

The soaring cost of US child care, in 5 charts  and Paid family leave is an investment in public health, not a handout – Thought provoking…families coping in the modern world.

Utilities are starting to invest in big batteries instead of building new power plants – Shifts in the way big utilities are structuring themselves for the future – it not all about new power plants.

New molecules reverse memory loss linked to depression, aging -- ScienceDaily – Maybe in the future we’ll be able to treat some types of cognitive decline better than we can now.

The Future of Universities | What's Next: Top Trends – 7 Cs: Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Curiosity, Character and Compassion

Tree Bud Project – Week 1

I started a project to photograph tree buds this week by cutting small branches from trees in our yard: cherry, plum, red maple, tulip poplar, black walnut, and sycamore. Unfortunately, there were no branches low enough for me to reach on our oak.

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The plan is to bring the branches indoors (where it is warm) and monitor the buds – see how many of them would open indoors over the next few weeks. Once they do, I’ll check to see what is happening with the buds on the tree outdoors.

I took pictures of the buds with the 15x macro lens clipped to my smart phone…starting with the cherry. The buds are enlarging but still firmly closed. Our tree lags the blossoms down in DC around the tidal basin.

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The plum buds are still very small. They already show the pink color of the flowers. The tree usually blooms after the cherry.

The red maple twig is easy to identify - opposite twigs, red buds. I was surprised that there were so few branches with buds on the lower branches; the deer must be the culprits. It took a lot of looking to find a branch I could reach with buds.

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The tulip poplar already had a popped bud! The others on the branch were still closed. The leaf scars are interesting to notice too.

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The black walnut has a lot of buds at the tip of the branch. This tree was also heavily browsed by deer. The branch leaked sap as I was taking pictures. Hope is it OK with the water from the vase.

Finally – the sycamore buds are still tight. In a previous year, a sycamore bud on my indoor branch opened and a tiny leaf unfurled.

I’ll be posting about the leaf buds about once a week if there is action to report.

Twigs and Witch Hazel

I have been looking more closely at twigs of trees recently and trying out simple dichotomous keys. As an example: here is one I looked at during a class on winter tree identification. Looking at the full branch – it was obvious that the leaf scars were opposite. Next, we needed to look at the leaf scars in more detail. There were hand lenses for everyone but I used my 15x lens clipped to my phone so I could share what I was seeing. The leaf scar was D shaped and had three bundles. And the new growth was red. We had to break the twig to smell it…its didn’t smell rank, so it was a RED MAPLE.

It turns out that multiples buds at the twig tip is indicative of maples and oaks…and that maples are opposite, and oaks are alternate. So – it’s possible to take a picture looking up into a tree and make a tentative identification. For example – this was a picture I took in my neighborhood with alternate branching and multiple buds at the end of the twigs – an OAK.  I had been using the relative height of the trees in my neighborhood (oaks are taller) but this identification is better and maybe easier too for the street trees planted by the builder 25-30 years ago – oaks and maples.

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I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the crumpled bark on the red maple twig. I wonder if they smooth out as the twig grows when the weather warms?

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On a more colorful note: be on the look out for witch hazels. Some bloom in the fall but others bloom now. There is one at Howard Country Conservancy’s Mt. Pleasant location that I am watching. Hopefully bitterly cold weather will not damage the flowers that are beginning to unfurl.

Smartphone Nature Photography – part 1

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We almost always have our smartphones with us….ready for those natural events that just happen and for planned photoshoots. I pulled together a presentation of a Maryland Master Naturalist retreat on the topic and am using it as a basis for the blog posts for today and tomorrow.

Gear

Learn about the camera in your phone. Two critical aspects: 1) Usually the autofocus is reasonably good but tapping on the screen where you want the focus to be can sometimes improve results. Do some experiments to see how close you can be and maintain the focus on your subject. 2) Realize that the zoom is digital – not optical. You are better off getting close to your subject rather than zooming. This is difficult if your subject is an animal that will move if you get close. Birds are notoriously difficult to photograph with a phone.

Consider a lanyard. I like to carry my phone on a lanyard (one that is structured to not obstruct the camera) so that I can be ‘hands free’ while I am hiking or rolling over logs…just doing regular naturalist things.  I want my phone to be easy to access – easier than getting it out of a pocket or pack.

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I enjoy using macro lenses. I have 3 different kinds (8x, 15x, and 60x) and tend to use the 15x clip the most. Sometimes I just have it on my phone so that I can move it over the camera as needed. The depth of field is very shallow with the magnification and the phone must be close to the subject. Practice the best stance to steady your hands. I find that tucking my elbows into my body helps….and using one had to hold the phone and the other to take the picture.

Examples of Smartphone nature photography

BioBlitz. Almost all the BioBlitz pictures are taken with smartphones or tablets. Sometimes we use hands for scale – and sometimes the macro lens gives a new perspective! These are pictures taken during BiobBlitz: spotted salamander, wooly bear caterpillar, milkweed.

Landscapes.  The joy of being outdoors! Try to get something of high interest in the landscape: the trail as a leading line, clouds over the trees, an early winter scene with bare trees/large rock/pines.

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Macro. The macro lens offers to many opportunities to observe more closely than you can observe with just your eye: clams filter feeding, the center of sunflower.

A chicory flower, a newly hatched Monarch butterfly caterpillar turning to eat its egg covering, and damselfly larvae.

A few minutes observing. I play a game with myself looking closely at one thing and taking photos as fast as I can over a short period of time. In this case it was a sweet bay magnolia. There were seed pods at several stages of development and some eggs under a leaf (maybe a leaf footed bug…if I was patient enough I could see what hatched but that was outside my time box).

(To be continued tomorrow…)

Winter Tree Identification – Part 2

Continuing from yesterday -

Seeds that help with identification include tulip poplar (the pods stay on the trees releasing the seeds during the winter breezes to clog up any nearby gutters!),

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Osage orange (that fall to the ground and are only moved around my people these days…they were planted for fence rows after the dust bowl because they are hardy, and the seed balls are easily broken apart and planted),

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Sweet gum (the spikey seeds are a hazard in suburban yards and drive ways), and

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Black walnuts (there are always nuts under the tree but the squirrels may carry then a little further away so look at the shape of the tree too).

Of course – there are trees that are not as easy to identify. That’s why I carry a small book – Winter Tree Finder – when I am hiking in the winter and looking at trees. I found mine at a used book sale, but they are available new from Amazon as well.

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Winter Tree Identification – Part 1

Leaves are an easy first step to identifying a tree…but not in the winter. Other identifying characteristics come to the fore. I’ve collected up some photos from the past few winters and will show the ones I find easy to identify even in the winter. Do you recognize the white barked trees that grow near rivers and have round seeds that often stay on the tree during the winter?

The sycamores are common in our area and are easier to spot in the winter than in the summer when their big leaves sometimes hide the whiteness of their branches.

They are only one of the trees that have distinctive bark. Others are spicebush (it can be a bush or understory tree) and beech below. They both have relative smooth bark. The spicebush is speckled with light colored lenticels.

Both the sycamore and river birch have peeling bark.

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Sometime thorns can be an identifying characteristic – like with the honey locust.

The bald cypress is the only conifer I’m including in this post since it sheds its needles for the winter. It is easy to recognize by its shape and the presence of knees…and that it likes wet areas.

The dogwoods have distinctive buds. Sometimes they are described as onion-shaped. They look more like slightly flattened Hershey’s kisses to me!

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Belmont in January 2019

Last week, I attended a lecture for Howard County Conservancy volunteers at the Belmont Carriage House – arriving early to walk around a bit before the lecture. There was still quite a lot of snow on the ground.

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I stayed on the cleared roads until I made the trek up to the old cemetery.

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The old tulip poplar looks even more ancient in the winter with all the hollows and bark injuries more clearly visible. It had a lot of seed pods from last season just as the younger trees do.

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One of the people I was hiking with pointed out an ash tree on the Patapsco Valley State Park side of the cemetery that had evidence of emerald ash borer (the lighter color on the bark). This tree will have to be cut down before it falls on the cemetery taking down fences and stones.

On a positive note – the hemlocks in the cemetery seem to be thriving. A few years ago they were infested with wooly adelgid but they were treated and it seems have saved them.

The wind must have ‘pruned’ the holly in the cemetery. A branch was draped from one of the headstones – no footprints in the snow around the headstone.

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There were lots of deer tracks in the snow as we walked up to the cemetery and back. We didn’t see any rabbit tracks. Maybe a coyote?

We circled back along the row of white pines. The snow stands out even on a very cloudy day.

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It was time to head back. I stopped near the mailboxes to take a picture of the pond with the bald cypress standing just to the left of it. It does have a classic cypress shape but if I wasn’t familiar with the tree, I’d have to hike down to the pond and see the cypress knees that surround it for a definitive identification.

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Winter Walk in the Neighborhood - 2

I noticed a lot of mud as I walked in our neighborhood. Some of it was on the sidewalks – not something I’d noticed in previous years. 2018 was a record rain year for us…and we’ve continued to get rain in the first part of 2019.

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There is mud where grass used to grow under many of the trees.

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Sometimes the trees would have made the area very shady before the leaves fell but most of the branches of trees along the street are trimmed high by the county so emergency vehicles can get down the street without being damaged. There is still a lot of bare soil under them.

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I am already thinking about what alternatives I have for the area under our plum tree; since we have a challenge with deer eating tender plants, my first idea is to simply mulch out to the dripline of the tree.

A squirrel was rooting in a raised bed in one yard. He noticed me, but I was far enough away (using the zoom on my camera) that he continued his investigation.

Cooler Days – Little Fall Color

Here it is the end of September and most of the leaves are still on the trees and green. The ones that have fallen are brown.

Our oak is a good example of that. Looking at the ground it looks like half the leaves have fall but the tree still looks like it has plenty more. (The ruler in the picture is me learning to take better documentary pictures for trees.)

In the back of our house, the red maple has no red leaves. Usually it starts out with a few that show up surrounded by green. But right now it’s still a wall of green although there are leaves on the ground that are brown.

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The tulip poplar usually has some yellow leaves surrounded by green. Some of the leaves look like they might be turning but even the zoomed image looks like a wall of green.

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There are some green tulip poplar leaves that have fallen in recent heavy rains…but overall the tree still has a lot of green leaves attached.

The sycamore has been dropping brown leaves but still has a lot of green ones on the tree. It’s usual the first to drop leaves. This year some are staying on the tree but there are still more green than brown ones.

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We’ve gotten a lot more rain than usual in September (almost 11 inches rather than the historical average of 4.6 inches) and the trees may be impacted by that. There is a lot of mud even in the grassy areas of our yard.

The end of October is generally the time the leaves fly from the trees, so I am still anticipating fall color. It just seems that there are too many brown leaves on the ground already.

Our Oak Tree

We have an oak tree in our front yard beside the mail box. It was a very young tree when we bought the house in October 1994.

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It’s grown a lot in 24 years.

We appreciate it’s shade on the front of the house in the morning. This year it has some Virginia creeper growing on the trunk. Maybe it’s just the wet year. I’m leaving the vine – since it’s a native plant – but may cut it next year. The tree looks very healthy but had no acorns this year; maybe the a cold snap last spring caught the tree at the wrong time.

The tree has more lichen and moss on it now. The extra moisture may contribute to the density but it’s typical of mature tree trunks in our area to have these companions. I like the contrasting greens of the moss (very bright) and the lichen (soft green).

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The county trimmed the lower branches from the street trees in our neighborhood and our oak was no exception. I took a picture of the scars where larger branches were cut. They show how the tree responds.

One that was particularly interesting had some curly fungus growing in it. The surface was not as vertical as most of the other cuts; perhaps more water is retained…and the fungus found a niche.

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Overall – the oak is one of my favorite trees. I wish they had planted it further back from the street and the drive way…and not elevated the mulch around it; it’s a lesson learned for future houses and trees. At this point, I just enjoy that this particular oak where and how it is.

Gleanings of the Week Ending September 1, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Poor sleep triggers viral loneliness and social rejection: Lack of sleep generates social anxiety that infects those around us -- ScienceDaily – Yet another reason that getting enough sleep is important to us as individuals and society at large.

The Armchair Photography Guide to Canyonlands National Park – Island in The Sky | National Parks Traveler – So many of the pictures had snow! It would be good to go when it was not terrifically hot….so any time but summer and even better close to the beginning or end of winter (a little now…not enough to be hazardous).

Stunning Underwater Photos of Microscopic Plankton by Ryo Minemizu – Beautiful, small life.

In Eastern US, adult trees adapt and acclimate to local climate: Tree cores reveal flexibility, more work needed to understand mechanisms -- ScienceDaily – 14 species of trees were analyzed using tree cores from 1940-1980….shouldn’t we look at more recent tree cores too?

Bed Bugs: When Biodiversity Bites – Cool Green Science – Informative….maybe I should check for bedbugs more consistently when I travel. I shouldn’t keep relying on ‘luck’ to avoid a very bad experience.

A Record Year for Measles Cases in Europe | The Scientist Magazine® - When I was a child, the measles vaccines didn’t exist yet. It was awful. Everyone got sick with them and, for some, there were lasting consequences. I was fortunate and survived without lasting damage except for missing enough school that I never quite understood certain volumetric measurements because I completely missed when it was taught.

Which country has the most expensive education? - Are the comparisons really apples and apples…or are there some pears and oranges thrown in? It is about educations but there are a lot of variables beside cost. All countries and parents and teachers struggle with how to make education relevant to students for now and into the future.

Air Pollution Linked to Decline in Cognitive Performance – The study was done in China but I wondered if it was true in other areas of the world with high levels of air pollution (like India). The US could be vulnerable if we relax our clean air standards.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx begins asteroid operations campaign – We were in Florida in September 2016 for the launch…so I always notice the updates about its progress.

50% of Industrial Climate Change Emissions Tied to Fossil Fuel Companies – An interview with the two authors of a recently released report: Decarbonization Pathways for Mines.

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center - Part II

Continuing about my day at SERC last Friday…

I got to SERC early enough that I walked around a small pond and took my first pictures of marshmallows.

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There were more of them in the marsh near the boardwalk as we made our way out to Hog Island. They were – by far – the biggest flowers of the area.

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A tiny flower that I photographed along the trail from very close up was a mint. I was careful to look for poison ivy and plants with thorns before I positioned myself to take the picture.

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And then there were trees…trees with lichen…a canopy of green…a pathway lined with green.

There are ongoing studies that make exact measurements of tree trunks over time. Metal bands are used; they expand as the tree grows and the amount they have expanded is measured.

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There were trees with holes in their trunks. The rows of holes are probably made by a bird – a yellow-bellied sapsucker. I remembered seeing a similar tree during my last hike at Belmont and being thrilled that the campers already knew the bird that made the holes!

There are young paw paw trees in the forest and I realized that I had seen these at Belmont as well. I know the tree from its bark but not is leaves!

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There was a standing dead tree that had the thickest collection of shelf fungus I’ve ever seen.

A sickly dogwood had more colorful bark that I am used to seeing on a dogwood.

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As we got back to the cluster of buildings – on the road by the geothermal well area – there were some sycamores – with a few skeletonized leaves…something was eating them…and the last flower of the day:

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Some black eyed susans.

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After the hike, we had lunch followed by a lecture about orchids. The North American Orchid Conservation Center is based at SERC and there are 9 native orchids that have been found there! We saw one on the earlier hike (the cranefly orchid) – unfortunately I didn’t get a good picture of it. The website for the organization - https://northamericanorchidcenter.org/ - is full of get information about native orchids and there is a colelction of orchid-gami printables if you want to make paper models of orchids!

Belmont Hikes with Summer Campers II

The hike last week with summer campers at Howard County Conservancy’s Belmont location was about plants and animals of Maryland through history. I thought of using the barn whose walls are stones from the are to start off with geology but decided that opted to stay with plants and animals.

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We talked about trees we see at Belmont today that were here when the Europeans arrived (like oaks and tulip poplars and beech and holly and white pine)…new ones (like gingkoes and English Elms and dawn redwoods that have been planted as landscaping trees). We also talked about trees that are missing like American Chestnuts and Elms; more recently the ashes have been cut down and the few remaining hemlocks are struggling.

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We talked about animals like deer and fox and rabbits that we still sometimes see. We looked for signs of the overpopulation of deer – noticed that the deer don’t seem to like holly but that other trees tend to not have any branches within deer reach! We were looking for signs of things as we hiked – and feathers are always a favorite…evidence that birds are around. On one hike we found a dried mushroom with the gills still visible underneath the cap; some of the campers have observed mushrooms in their yard and shared their observations.

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We saw a lot of dragonflies in the air over the meadow and talked about how the insects had gotten smaller over time…a hold over from last week’s camp theme: fossils.

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It was a good morning hike!

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 30, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

The Mysterious Demise of Africa’s Oldest Trees - Yale E360 – Baobab trees that are over 1000 years old are dying quickly…and there is not yet a definitive explanation.

History and Seaports in Charleston : Image of the Day – I visited Charlestown a few years ago on vacation…this picture from the International Space Station brought back memories and provided a different perspective of the place.

Top 25 Birds of Europe – National Geographic Blog – Last week it was Africa…this week it’s Europe.

New study examines impacts of fracking on water supplies worldwide - GeoSpace - AGU Blogosphere – Maps make it easy to look at complex data in a visual way. My take away from these maps of water supply and shale basin areas is that Texas has a lot of shale in areas that are already under water stress….fresh water is already being consumed unsustainably.

BBC - Future - Why non-smokers are getting lung cancer – I’ve wondered about non-smokers and lung cancer. The numbers are not huge…but they are often diagnosed late and are, therefore, more deadly.

Seventeenth-Century Danish Latrines Analyzed - Archaeology Magazine – Diet and parasites from more than 300 years ago.

Move Over, Monarchs: Another Butterfly Makes a Longer One-Way Migration - Yale E360 – Painted Lady Butterflies from southern Europe migrate across the Mediterranean through the Sahara to tropical Africa!

Discover Landscape Architecture Activity Books – THE DIRT – There are activity books for younger students and then teens/adults. I am reading the adult version and then will try to apply some of the activities when I travel…encourage new appreciation of the as-built landscape architecture of the places I visit.

2018 Lotus And Water Lily Festival At Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens – My husband and I don’t go to the festival but we do go the Kenilworth several times in July…expect lotus and water lily (and dragon fly) posts soon!

Lives before and after Stonehenge: An osteobiographical study of four prehistoric burials recently excavated from the Stonehenge World Heritage Site – Lifestyle rather than ethnicity seems to determine burial practices in this instance.

Sycamore

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Sycamores are common in our area near rivers and streams particularly. They tend to get their leaves late and loose them early in the fall. Right now – in June – they are about their best looking with their foliage still mostly intact. Later in the season, the many of the leaves will have holes or be partially eaten away. A lot of insects depend on those leaves for food. The leaves keep growing all during the season getting larger and larger…bigger than dinner plates…plenty to go around for the insect company.

Looking up int the tree, the whiteness where the outer bark has peeled way I a little noticeable – not the standout feature that it will be in winter.

This time of year, there are still some very tiny leaves. They are lighter in color than the bigger leaves and from far away look something completely different than a leaf…a little decoration at the ends of all the branches.

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May 2018 Tree Status

All the trees are growing well with the warmer temperatures and rain. The sycamore behind our house has lots of small green seed balls among its new leaves; last year a freeze came at the wrong time and the tree only produced one seed ball.

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The tulip poplar is full of flowers as usual. Its leaves are larger than the sycamores at this point. Later in the season the sycamore leaves will be the largest.

The maple had so many seeds early in the month that they made the tree look brownish…but then the were blown off the tree and the maple looks like is normal summer self.

The sweet gums are starting new seed balls as well. They look like spikey globes among the leaves.

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But the celebration of tree blooms this month is the horse chestnut. The tree I photographed is at the end of the drive up to the manor house. The top fell out of the tree several years ago but the part that Is left is blooming profusely. I stopped one day after I finished hiking and leaned out the open window of my car to take some pictures of the flowers.

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