While March still feels like winter in many ways, an early week of thaw revealed spring things are begining to sing. Come see for your self and take a peek at the events on Nature's Calendar.




Created by: CNHM
Distance: 1.4 mi
Ascent: 38 ft
Date: 04/20/2016
Duration: 96 min
Descent: 774 ft
Tags: phenology
Difficulty: Beginner


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Points of Interest

Many of the first green plants we see are actually non-native species. This clover is already photosynthesizing!
wild strawberries
Wild strawberries are one of our first summer fruits. Perhaps the reason that they can grow so fast is that their leaves stay green through the winter.
snow mold
Snow mold is a fungal disease that appears in early spring as the snow melts. There are two types of snow molds, gray and pink, that become active under the snow cover. This gray snow mold is less damaging to the grass. Decomposition in many forms continues under the snow, where temperatures may rise above freezing in the subnivean zone.
reindeer lichen
This fruiticose lichen grows like little trees -- in in fact is often used for little trees in hoby train sets! It is very fragile when dry, but in this spring thaw it is quite moist and flexible. Reindeer survive off its cousins in the tundra.
snowy path
Some parts of the trail were still packed with snow.
snowy moss
Dark moss absorbs the sun's heat and melts through the snow.
grouse scat
Many animal signs are still visible on the melting snow. This is a pellet from a ruffed grouse.
damp moss
As the temperatures rise above freezing, liquid water jump starts photosynthesis in many small plants. Moss leaves are like little sponges, and can soak up the freshly liquid water quickly.
rabbit browse
Rabbits have both upper and lower incisors. When they nibble off a twig they leave this tell-tale sharp edge. Deer have only lower front teeth and tear off twigs leaving a rough end.
The dried stalk of a heal's all flower.
dog track
Tracks sink in deelply this time of year.
aspen buds
Willows and aspens are in the same family -- Salicaceae -- and it s quite evident by the look of these aspen buds!
club moss
The yellow spore club of this club moss got nipped off by something over the winter. Spores are high in protein and fat, so it's no surprise.
These wood sedges are green all winter under the snow, just waiting for sun and liquid water!
water droplets
A damp day and some low fog allowed moisture to collect on many twigs. Fog is common weather during a thaw.
Common speedwell
Common speedwell in a non-native plant from Europe and western Asia. It stays green under the snow.
Old Man's Beard
This fun lichen can often be found dangling from trees. This time of year chunks of it fall off in the wind, too, and can be found littering the snow. You can idenify Old Man's Beard by gently pulling apart one of the strings and finding an elastic white core.
snowy trail
The trampling of footsteps compacts the snow and keeps it from melting as fast as fluffy snow in the surrounding woods.
tree well
Trees absorb sunlight and convert it to heat. This melts the snow nearby.
insect trail
How many things are going on in this photo?
True to its name, wintergreen stays green all winter. Its thick, waxy leaves help to protect it from drying out when no liquid water is available.
partridge berry
Partridge berry is another low evergreen plant. It produced red berries in the summer, and can be idenitified by the light colored stripe down the center of each leaf.
squirrel hole
Hungry squirrels are digging up the last of their food caches this time of year.
tip up
You can see why this pair of trees fell over! The roots are rotten!
animal sign
What animal has been in this picture?
The wood chips are barely visible from the trail, but around back it's easy to see that a woodpecker has been foraging here over the winter.
slippery bridge
This bridge is often slippery. Watch your step!
The genus of this plant -- Chimaphila-- means winter lover. Indeed, pipsissewa is a lovely evergreen plant.
birch seeds and scales
This birch catkin has shed two shapes of little. The oval dots with transaprent "ears" are the seeds. The fleur de lis-shaped pieces are scales that protect the seeds like shingles on the catkin.
fringed polygala
These may be the leaves of fringed polygala, and beautiful bright pink flower.
leather leaf
The tough leaves of leather leaf are melting through the snow of the bog. They look dead and brown, but that is only an illusion.
This bog is beautiful any time of year!
Labrador tea
The evergreen leaves of Labrador tea do not have access to liquid water yet. Bogs are late to thaw.
Trailing arbutus
Trailing arbutus is an early spring flower with an amazing scent.
red maple buds
Some squirrel has been scooping the nutritious flowers out of the acidic scales on these red maple buds.
Some bunchberry leaves are evergreen, and survive under the snow.
Sedges are tough and ready to go!
sugar maple leaf
Decomposition continues under the snow. This sugar maple leaf is going back to the soil.
Even this late in the winter ironwood leaves still cling to the twigs. They may not fall off until this year's leaves start to grow.
native honeysuckle
The native fly honesuckle and non-native tartarian honeysuckle look very similar. If you break open a twig, though, the native honeysuckle has a white center pith.
partridge berry berry
The bright red berry has survived the winter, but may still get eaten by a hungry grouse.
maple leaf
Maple leaves return their nutrients quicky back to the soil.
nurse stump
It's easier to see into the woods without leaves on the trees. Here we get a peak at a sapling on a "nurse stump." The rotting wood of the stump provided a sunny, moist, rich place for a seed to grow.
The scientific name of this puffball means "wolf fart."
partridge berry 3
This little green plant sure catches your eye!
red fungus
This beautiful red fungus brings color to the day.
Most dog scat isn't this hair, so my guess is that this was left by a coyote!
Lichens are brittle when it's dry, but today they are flexible and photosynthesizing!
rabbit scat
Rabbit scat is shaped like little Skittles. They actually eat their first round of scat and re-digest it, kind of like chewing their cud.
Sweetfern is an aromatic plant that likes sandy, disturbed soil.
These blackberry canes make me hungry for summer!
mystery spot
What do you think caused these blackened pine needles? I also saw black patches NOT near dog poop. The dog poop I included to remind dog owners that even in winter it is considerate to pick up after your dog on a public trail.
meadow vole tunnels
The Subnivean Layer Revealed! Small mammals travel under the snow all winter. As the snow melts, their paths are revealed.