Fixing the dock was the main focus at the weekend, but we did also manage to do a few other things. As always I am on the hunt to see what wildlife is around. I went prepared this time with extra eyes and set up my birdcam in the area we found the baby deer last year. (Birdcam between the two larger trees off centre left.
There is a deer trail through there and I even found some deer hair on a twig, so I was sure a deer would walk past at one point.
I set it up on Friday afternoon and took it down Saturday afternoon, making sure it had a full 24 hours to capture any action. You can imagine my disappointment when I didn’t even get a chipmunk! The range for motion is 8-feet, so maybe I didn’t put it close enough to the trail. I will have to just try again another time. It was amusing to find a 4.5” black hair with white tips on the car as we were leaving. I don’t know if it was a deer hair, but it seemed like something was toying with me and letting me know they are around, but outsmarting me!
I found other recent evidence of animal behaviour. Something had taken a bite out of the tree bark. I am guessing a porcupine. It was interesting to see how the sap from this broken branch on a pine tree was running. Any later in the season and I would expect it to be covered with insects drinking the sap. There were actually a lot of mayflies around on this visit, which was rather annoying. At least they don’t bite, but they are a pest and seem intent on trying to fly into your eyes. Thankfully they are not around for long and won’t be bothering us throughout the summer.
It was so nice to see a few signs of spring. The trees were starting to bud and I am sure there will be a few leaves by the time we return again. I took the opportunity to clear a path before there are leaves appearing. The path above the dock area is quite overgrown and whilst the deer don’t seem to have any trouble picking their way through with their long legs, it isn’t so easy for us. I cut all the little saplings down along the trail so that we have a clear path to walk through. I know they will grow back, but hopefully it will make it a little easier to navigate than it was last year.
Clearing the path gave me a good opportunity to look closely at the ground and see what is growing. Certainly the oaks seem to like the conditions there. I cut a huge number of oak saplings out of the path. The acorns that the squirrels and chipmunks buried seem to love the conditions here and many had produced shoots and rooted.
I love the Rock Spikemoss; it has such a prehistoric look about it. It is actually not a moss, but in the fern family.
One plant that intrigued me, but now I have researched it gives me cause for concern is Field Horsetail; Equisetum arvense. It reproduces by spores produced by short brown shoots early in the season. After the cones have shed their spores in early May they die down and send up a second shoot, which looks like a miniature Christmas tree. It was cool to see how it looks early in the season, but I am not so sure that I am pleased to see it on our property. It is an intense competitor and can severely suppress crops and other plants. I read how they are very difficult to eradicate once established and any small piece of their spindly black root will reestablish as a plant. Their roots can go down 3.5-feet below the ground surface! It has certainly made me think twice about bringing home a fern from the cottage to plant at home. Who knows what else I might bring home with me?
I read of a caution that it contains a substance which destroys vitamin B in animals and is especially poisonous to young horses and is a problem if hay contains the weed – not that I am not planning on keeping horses, but what if Maggie dog snacks on it? It didn’t talk about other animals, so hopefully it isn’t usually an issue.
It isn’t all bad though. The plant contains several substances which can be used medicinally. It is rich in silicon, potassium and calcium and the buds are eaten as a vegetable in Japan and Korea in spring time. You need to make sure you identify it correctly though because all other Equisetum species are toxic, so I won’t be snacking on it!
I only found one wildflower in flower; white hepaticas. It is a member of the buttercup family and commonly known as Liverwort or Jonny Jump-ups. They were so beautiful with the sun shining on them and such a treasure to spy as I explored the forest.