This tree was chewed down overnight. I was a bit surprised because, while there has been a bit of a thaw, I hadn’t expected to see the beavers out and about. There were many small stumps within a hundred yards of where I stood, though, so perhaps they had a bit of a spree in the last few days. This tree was most noticeable because it was beside the path.
This tree appeared to be missing a substantial amount of its bark. I went closer to look, because I have been surprised to find so little evidence of deer along the river. Perhaps we’re spared that large rodent a bit longer. But the missing bark was in fact a large biological growth of fungus or something. It was two varieties, I think, with one growing in small shelves and the other like a hair brush, with many points all pointing down.
The lack of leaves on the trees has left them largely anonymous to me. I realize that I don’t have any good method of identifying one from another without the leaf on them, which seems a bit short-sighted. I mean, for half the year the trees are without a full leaf on them! This fruit reminded me of a sumac but it’s on a larger tree. The seams between the pieces of each part of the fruit caught my eye. I wonder if that’s just part of the cover or if it will unfold in some way.
It has surprised me how unprotected some birds nests appear to be. This one was in a hollow of a tree but with a quite wide opening. I am wondering if it is for a larger bird who didn’t need much space – or security – against predators. There was a door step on this one, that would have acted as a perch. The inside was about an inch or two below this lip, and covered in wood shavings.
I try to avoid the human element of this area. It tends to be negative: trash, pollution, dog waste, etc. I laughed when I saw this car exhaust pipe sticking out of the snow bank in the train station parking lot. Commuters frequently reverse into parking spots in order to gain some fleeting advantage when trying to leave in the evening rush. But it is common to hear the crunch of a car that has overshot and rammed the large snow banks that encircle the parking lot.
This pipe must have lost a battle with a snow pile and been left behind. As you can tell from the rust, it wasn’t long for this world anyway. It looked like a periscope staring out across the river. One wonders why the owner couldn’t take it with them.
Straight lines don’t seem to happen often in nature. This is probably pretty obvious when you think about it, which is why regular objects are easy to see in a forest. The wooden footbridge was heavily salted and sanded, and the snow on it had melted, dripping down to the icy river below. It resembled a ladder, with its evenly spaced rungs, stretching from one bank to the other.
The wind was light today but blew the snow through the trees. I noticed something shaking about 20 feet up in the air, in the branches of a tree. It was a wild cucumber vine, with the fruit opened and dried out. I have never seen one that high, and it didn’t look like it had grown up there so I wondered if a bird or something else had pulled it up into the tree to eat.
There is now a canoe portage on the Holland River to get people around the weir. It was probably spurred by a death caused by a canoe shooting over the weir a few years back. We went down to the river bank to investigate – Argos went to the river ice and broke through the edge – and saw these berries hanging on. It’s warming now but if we get a cold spell before April, these are going to look very tasty to the birds that are still hanging around the forest.
The footbridge crosses from the parking lot to the eastern side of the path. It had a broken plank and was closed a few weeks back. Argos and I detoured back into civilization in order to get to the east bank so it was nice to have the bridge back in order. You can see the repaired planks at the peak of the bridge.
We walked up towards the northern boundary – Green Lane – and I noticed the feathery tops of the reeds near the train tracks. There is a marsh there and I never ventured over to it. In the winter, the ground is hard and the tops of these reeds are quite interesting to see. There is another marshy patch, in a ditch, further to the east, but I don’t recall seeing these sorts of tops before.
We had a change of perspective. Argos and I reversed our normal path, going counter-clockwise and also getting off the trail at different points. As we were climbing back over the snow to the path from the riverbank, we came across this large hole. It wasn’t a drainage culvert and, as you can imagine, its dark interior stood out against the snow.
It is invisible from the path. Argos had a good look in the entrance but it was hard to tell if it was in use or not. He certainly didn’t find any scent that he was interested in pursuing. If it’s a home, it’s for some good sized mammal, I would think. The lack of snow around its entrance, except where Argos tossed some, makes me think it’s in use.