Trans Scend Survival

Trans: Latin prefix implying "across" or "Beyond", often used in gender nonconforming situations – Scend: Archaic word describing a strong "surge" or "wave", originating with 15th century english sailors – Survival: 15th century english compound word describing an existence only worth transcending.

Category: Nature Observations (page 3 of 7)

Langdon Woods with Kurt: Plants!

Today- after an extremely productive 7am trip with the vertebrate zoology class mind you- I nipped over to Langdon Woods in the rain to learn about the the little plants growing around the forest floor at a rapid, hydrated rate.  The ones I can remember off the top of my head include:

Bunchberry:  a ground covering plant with red berries clustered in a bunch.  Edible!

Partridge berry: a tiny plant with a leaf or two red berry on top.  not dangerous to eat!

Goldenthread: A little plant with three fan-shaped leaves. the deep orange root has numbing and diuretic properties.  Useful! Probably not good nutrition though!

Purple trillium:  a flower with an exotic crimson color.  It is also called "stinking benjamin" because it has an undesirable odor when in bloom.   Nice to look at!

Starflower:  A distinctive, flat white flower with 7 blades.  the leaves all grow from the same spot in a circle- a phenomenon known also in pine trees as a "whorl".  Pretty!

Indian cucumber:  a plant that also grows leaves in a whorl shape, with a varying number of leaves.  A prime  root tastes and feels like a sweet carrot.  Some think they can tell how developed the cucumber is by how many leaves are on the plant, though I do not know this to be true.  Very tasty!

Wintergreen:  a small thick-leafed plant.  The leaves are round and a bit waxy looking, but the point is it is a great consumable.  Makes great tea!

Sensitive fern:  This is a fairly nondescript fern with one key feature: it leaves its fertile fronds attached to the plant for a while, making them easy to spot.  Just look for brown "beaded" fronds sticking straight up this is a clear indication of sensitive fern.  Fun to ID!

Ostrich fern:  A big fern with large fiddleheads.   Great sauteed!


There are more plants we covered, but these are the ones I can remember the best.


Addendum to “Secret Beach Area” Natural History Class Walk

"by Christopher Myrick - Thursday, April 20, 2017, 5:38 PM
 Bomber day in the woods. We saw a dead frog and a dead turtle. Multiple little insect varieties and some eggs which I will raise as my own. They are in a Gatorade bottle next to an open window to keep the water cooler than room temperature (updates will follow). A great blue heron flew over head as well as some black birds and a hawk. Also Sean ate it in the river. "

...This is a brilliant depiction.  Best of luck rearing the kiddos.  I will add:

hop-hornbeam was in there, with yellowish/crackly bark.  Lots of silver maples in the puddly areas, and a sugar maple.  Lots of black cherry trees.  A few aspens with "sunscreen" bark.

2 river otters, a small crayfish, 2 pre-flight dragonflies.

The 10 most notable birds:

  1. Coopers hawk - Looked like a broadwing hawk or even a merlin (falcon) at first sight, but had a longer, more triangle shaped tail with more horizontal bars then the broadwing, and had straighter wings and a slower soaring flight pattern than a merlin.
  2. Common loon pair - sits low to the water (them solid bones) with a giant, fish-gobbling head.
  3. horned grebe - tiny diving bird with a fuzzy head.  They often are seen (in my personal experience) where loons are floating.
  4. Belted kingfisher - KA-KA-KA-KA-KA-KA...
  5. goldfinches - 'potatochip"
  6. song sparrows
  7. downy woodpecker  (NEIGH!)
  8. flicker  (HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA...)
  9. red-bellied woodpecker (bwbwuuraack!)
  10. GHB - in flight, looks like pterodactyl but isn't, trust me...


Fox Park #18: 4/19/17, In Class Roamings

At around 9:35 yesterday morning, the natural history class gathered in Fox Park under an amazing clear sky and a light wind.   Instead of going into the level of detail as I did over the winter (there were quite frankly less details to be had over the winter) I will try to summarize the two most significant findings .


  • Porcupines are everywhere.  It turns out these giant walking pinecones are leaving traces of themselves all over the place (though the chances of seeing one are still quite slim).  In the winter, they climb up hemlock trees and nibble.  Everything.   They sort of just sit up there and eat the tree, trying to move as little as possible and thus will everything within reach.  These foliage holes in hemlock trees  are a dead giveaway of this activity, and will often have dangling branches with rodent-esque chop marks.  I have seen a stands of hemlocks with large amounts of debris underneath at Fox Park, which is extremely indicative of a porcupine's munching habits.
  • The magnolia warblers have arrived.  These are magnificent little birds.   Famous for their "necklace with pendants",  these warblers have officially arrived, and in full getup.  A pair of them were calling to each other (which I did not get right away- they have a few calls) then chasing each other through the forest.  What fun!


Fox Park #16 and #17: 4/16/17,Big Toad: Small Vireo. Yay.

I was in and out of Fox park today as well as yesterday, so I will not put a time.  The sun was hot (77F), the skies were clear, and the birds were singing.  Loudly.  I did a sit spot yesterday, which kind of rolled into today- there was not a peep yesterday.  I do not have the foggiest idea why; regardless, it was soggy and drizzly, and  I did not make any great achievements worth writing home about.  I did, however, find this extremely large and incredibly dead American Toad.  Observe it in all its massiveness.  This fellow was around 6 (6!) inches long.  Key things to note about a toad:

  • the bizarre patterns with no discernible regularity.  This one has leopard print pants and a camo shirt.  This seems to have to do with where it lives; forest floors where yummy worms and grubs reside are where these toads make their homes.
  • The poisons in the bumps behind the eyes are "not weak".  Toads have toxic glands, excreting "bufotoxins" (bufo really just means toad) which are a sort of steroid chemically mangled with strange and hard-to-synthesise-in-the-lab compounds.  The toxins in this American (and "eastern") toad are "weak" because they should only kill your small dog if eaten.  🙂   The even larger South American cousin however (Cane toad) can not only grow to have a 9 inch long body, but simply licking it will kill most humans.  As a result, they are not commonly eaten in the wild, so toads are generally not endangered.

Catching up to today:

I will cut right to the chase:  This is a Blue-headed Vireo, and the worst picture I could possibly take.   Indeed, I took it by accident while looking through my lens to verify this bird was "too far away to identify".   Only on my way back did I realize what I had captured.  I thought at first it was a nashville warbler- so, in my confusion, I stood for over an hour baking in the sun in the field where I took this picture.  I did not see it again.   BUT:  I heard it.  A slow and clear, "see-boo?? I-See-you!!  Want-tea-too??" (or something to that effect), emanating from the middle of the trees.   This, coupled with the eye ring, fuzzy blue-grey head, wing bars, and buff yellow throat and body, I can say with much certainty this really is a blue-headed vireo.  Huzzah!

I believe there are real wood warblers here, now.  I hear the odd "zeeZEE" and "BeeZoo" and "ze,zee,ZEE", but no clear songs yet.  These are warbler sounds, but not songs.  Today was a 23 species day, all at Fox Park.  Things should get pretty interesting this week.....


Fox Park #15: 4/12/17, “1 if by land, 17 if by ear”

Again, Just getting through the small backlog of sit spots.  All by ear, many with a visual confirmation at some point.

Species Count:

  1. Mourning Dove 1
  2. Eastern Phoebe 2
  3. Blue Jay 4
  4. American Crow 3
  5. Black-capped Chickadee 3
  6. Tufted Titmouse 4
  7. White-breasted Nuthatch 1
  8. Carolina Wren 1
  9. American Robin 5
  10. Northern Mockingbird 1
  11. Chipping Sparrow 7
  12. Dark-eyed Junco 3
  13. Song Sparrow 3
  14. Northern Cardinal 2
  15. Common Grackle 18
  16. American Goldfinch 2
  17. House Sparrow 4

Again, I am just recounting the notes I took with eBird.  Other living things and systems are to come!  Hurrah!


« Older posts Newer posts »