A Comparison of Two Common Hickories

Recently I spent a couple of hours observing the stems of two trees: Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata) and Pignut Hickory (Carya glabra). The result of time spent with these trees was a thorough exploration of the details of their stems, leaf buds, leaf scars and other minor details. Distinguishing between the two has become quite […]

The Power of Sharing Stories

Well, …unthinkable amounts of snow have blanketed much of the east, sending all animals into various states of surprise and frantic. Voles were spotted racing across the top of the deep snow, a dangerous dash. Songbirds jockeyed for positions at feeders. Large mammals could be seen partaking in a ritual of repositioning the snow…so they […]

Unsuspected beauty in snake plant flowers

It is hard to believe that anyone has not at some time had snake plants (Sansevieria) in their family households. The ability of this interesting but strange plant to survive almost any treatment made it popular around the world as a house plant. Unfortunately in warmer areas such as Florida they ended up planted outside […]

An Amazing Tree – Part I

Photograph taken December 22, 2009. Charlottesville, Virginia. We have an oak that, for some reason, refuses to give in to the changing seasons. Forgive the anthropomorphism, but symbolically, it refuses to give up in the face of cold and lack of light.Here we are in the early throws of winter, and buried in two feet […]

A Master of the Hunt

Another chapter in the ecology of Belmont Bridge. It was only a few cold days ago that I spotted an animal as I drove across that bridge. Its unusual posture could be seen in silhouette in the shadows of a large tree on the North side of the Beck Cohen building. We see lots of […]

The Magnificent Northern Saw-whet Owl

On Friday November 20, my family joined Clair Mellinger (fella with the hat on) and Charles Ziegenfus for some Saw-whet owl (Aegolius acadicus) banding. We are lucky these guys make their efforts open to the public, and were fortunate to have Clyde Kessler bring this annual event to our attention. A snippet from a correspondence […]

The Pigeons of Belmont Bridge

Go see these pigeons in the morning, and take your kids. They have been congregating at the same place and time at the peak of Belmont Bridge in C-ville, pre-10am on a power line(after which they aloft to other places, like the top of the pavillion). They are fun to watch, as they preen and […]

Fruit Leather, Round 3

After receiving a tip from some close friends (Rachel, Tim, Jordan and Christian, thanks!!) we set off for a final search of lingering autumn olive berries. The farm trail and fields at Monticello Trail were loaded. These late clingers were extra sweet and quite easy to pick. Leaves had dropped in many cases and the […]

Exceptions to the Rule…identifying trees

In a recent attempt to learn more about trees I’ve found myself wading through the many ways they can be identified or distinguished from one another. One can look at the leaf scars, the leaves, the leaf buds, the bark, the tree shape, flowers, fruit, among others. In many instances I find slight variations that […]

Leaf Rainbows

Flowering dogwood, (Cornus florida)     Blackgum, (Nyssa sylvatica )   Sugar Maple, (Acer sacharum)     White Ash, (Fraxinus americana)   Well, the wonderful days of changing colors have slipped into the past, again. The greens bowed to yellows, the yellows to orange, and the oranges laid carpet down for the late red arrivals. […]