Sunday, November 6, 2011

Catching Up with Nature Journals


I thought I would do an extra posting this week. The weather has been beautiful, sunny if a bit chilly, but not too bad with a warm coat so I have been out and about to various state/national parks.

On Wednesday I decided that I needed to do another trip down to the Cape before winter really sets in. My aim was to go a bit further down Cape and visit the Audubon Sanctuary in Wellfleet. I didn't actually make it that far and instead ended up at Cape Cod National Seashore in Eastham. I actually visited a couple of locations in the Park which is extensive. My first stop was Fort Hill in Eastham. This site doesn't have any barrier beach access and is mainly salt marsh and estuary with some hills and woods, and an old Sea Captains house. I walked several paths down to the waters edge then along the salt marsh for a ways. Going inland I visited the Captains house making photographs.

Highlights of my visit to Fort Hill was seeing a Hawk, who I interrupted at her meal and later at the Captains house a downy woodpecker that was attacking the barn/garage looking for a late lunch.

I then drove further down Cape and stopped at the Visitors Center for the Park in Eastham, then I traveled on to the Coast Guard House and down onto the beach. I walked the beach picking up only a few feathers and making photographs. The beach didn't have much in the way of shells, mostly clam or crab shells that were the remains of a seagulls meal.  The tide was on the way in, but I was lucky enough to arrive when it was still mostly out. I thoroughly enjoyed my walk, though walking on sand gets tiring.

My drawings aren't quite as exciting as my photographs (which I will post in my flickr account in a folder if you are interested). The top image is of a Bayberry branch with leaves and some berries. The berries boiled to render their wax are the source of the wax for bayberry candles. Next 2 drawings are of pine needles and a pine cone both belonging to a Pitch Pine tree, a common tree on the Cape. The last drawing is of an Oak leaf from a tree in the Long Pasture Sanctuary (I stopped there briefly before coming home) I think it is from a Swamp Oak, but oak leaves can be tricky to identify, acorns would be better, but there just aren't any this year.  The other drawing on the page is of a land snail shell that I picked up at Fort Hill. The shell itself is prettier then the drawing makes it, a pale translucent yellow with a brown stripe.

The page below is from a visit to Ames Nowell State Park, Abington, MA.


I visited this park on Thursday afternoon. It is probably the closest park to me distance wise so it is easiest for me to get to. On Thursday I walked in a different direction from what I have taken before and only have leaves to show for my efforts. The leaves are almost gone from the trees and I felt that I needed to document as many of them as I could before I have to wait until next spring.

The drawings are top: a leaf from a Witch Hazel tree/bush. I found all the leaves on the paths and they were all showing fall colors, mostly yellow or a yellow brown. The middle leaf is actually from an American Chestnut. I wouldn't call it a tree, because of the blight Chestnuts no longer grow to mature tree size in my region, but saplings still grow from the old trees root system and will survive until killed back by the blight. The one I found in Ames Nowell was about 15 feet high, but a long way from being a mature tree.

The bottom leaf is I think a Northern Red Oak. As I mentioned above Oak trees can be hard to identify, leaf shapes even on one tree can have a fair amount of variety, but I think I am correct with this one. A leaf that I previously drew thinking it a Northern Red Oak was probably either a Scarlet Oak or a Black Oak, but I may still have all these wrong.

My next page is from a visit yesterday to Borderland State Park, Easton, MA.


The most notable thing about yesterday's visit to Borderland was the number of dog walkers I saw. Not just on the main trails but also on the trails through the woods. I decided to try and explore a new trail to me so went off the main road/trails into the woods. The top image of a gentleman with his dog was made there.

I also saw a group of Mallard ducks on one of the ponds and walked the Marsh trail, which is aptly named. Despite the fact it  has been a week since our last storm the trails are still wet and soggy in spots. Not just in Borderland but also in Ames Nowell. I am thinking I really should get waders so I can keep my feet dry.

The lower sketch is of some seed pods. I don't know what plant they are from, without flowers it can be tricky to identify seed pods unless you can identify leaves. This plant didn't have any leaves left so I am left to wonder exactly what it is.

Below are a few photographs made on my Park visits.


Above is the hawk I saw at Fort Hill. I am not sure what she is, though I am fairly sure it is a she. Female raptors are larger then the males and she was a fairly large bird.


The above photo was made at Ames Nowell and is a view of Lake Cleveland showing what is left of the fall color.


I used part of the image above for my Borderland Nature Journal drawing. The dog had gone on one side of the tree and managed to wrap its leash around it, the man is doing some untangling. The yellow leaves are Beech trees putting on their fall show, and you can see one of the large rocks that the glaciers left scattered around the park lands to his left.

That is it for today. Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my Journal. Per usual comments are appreciated.