Sunday, May 15, 2022

Wild Iris

Here's a favorite wildflower of mine, the blue flag, Iris versicolor. It grows wild in wetlands and along shorelines and has been adopted by gardeners. I saw this one growing by a fresh water ponds at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge on the New Jersey coast. Is it not stunning? I feel well rewarded for choosing that path. Click to enlarge.

There was a single plant, three feet tall or so, sword-shaped leaves, with one bloom. It reminds me of this from Wendell Berry: "I  dream of a quiet man who explains nothing and defends nothing, but only knows where the rarest wildflowers are blooming and who goes, and finds that he is smiling not by his own will."

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Happy Mother's Day


My mother was a reader, and she read to us. She read us Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when I was 6 and my brother was 8; I never forgot it.” —Stephen King

Sunday, May 1, 2022



Today I am one with the basking animals. I've spent hours lounging outdoors in delightful weather -- cool air and warm sunshine. I was not alone. Eastern fence lizards, like the one above, are out of hibernation and back to their basking posts. 

And the turtles, as usual, are jockeying for the best basking spots. Click to enlarge.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

A Dragonfly Emerged

I was walking past this wooden fence at Batsto Village in the New Jersey Pine Barrens last week when I noticed this:

Big insects on the fence! Click to enlarge.

Turned out it was not two insects, but a dragonfly resting after recently emerging from its empty skin (on the right).

Hard to believe that an elegant and delicate dragonfly used to be this creepy looking aquatic nymph, right?

It grew up to become the sleek brown stream cruiser, Didymops transversa.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Behold Pyxiemoss!


This week I took a walk in the pine barrens at Pakim Pond in Brenden T. Byrne State Forest in Woodland Township, NJ. I love when the clouds are reflected in the still surface of the lake like this. Click to enlarge.

I was walking on this path when I glanced down and found...

Pyxiemoss flowers! I've read about this plant but had never found it, so -- I am bragging now. The little white flowers are a pretty sight in the brown spring woods, peeking out from under fallen leaves and needles.

It's an east coast native, possible from New York to South Carolina but only in piney sandy places, so it's limited to a few areas within its range. It only blooms from late March through early May. Oh, and pyxiemoss is not a moss. It is a flowering plant that grows in low moss-like mats.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Tufted Titmouse Time

Here's a cute little bird that is currently making its voice heard. Tufted titmouse males are singing now to attract mates. Their song is a clear two-note whistle repeated a few times. It's surprisingly loud and ear-catching for a tiny bird. Birdwatchers think it sounds like peter-peter-peter. Click here to listen to a recording from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The tufted titmouse has a little crest on its head, big dark eyes, and a sporty peach colored patch on the side. They reside year-round in most of the eastern United States where they work as scatter hoarders, collecting seeds to tuck away in numerous small caches for later use. They always seem to be working. With a little time off in spring to just sit and sing. Click to enlarge.