Another winter wander

Another post full of mostly minimalist shots from a few different outings on snowshoes. So far the accumulation has persisted into March, but warm days are coming and it won’t last.

It always amazes me the color snow picks up from the light and the sky. This first one is in more open sunlight and the second under more clouds.

In procession
My little mystery

Spore casings from sensitive fern often manage to hang on during heavy snow long after the fronds are gone. I loved this one for that little bit of a dip behind it. It gives just a little more interest to the shot. A little bit of context. Similar to the one above that has some melted and partially buried tracks. A contrast to the flower below against a plain, smooth field.

A sensitive spot

This little branch is probably 15 or 18 inches off the ground, but it skims the snowline. A while after I took this we got more snow so it probably got buried.

The lowdown

This small plant stopped me in my tracks and I went through some tripod contortions to get the little branches separated from each other. It looks like a dancer and I love the branch that is partially buried. It didn’t dawn on me what it was when I was there, but afterward I realized it’s a tiny tamarack pine. The little nubs are where the needles grow in bunches like tiny brooms and the knobs are the cones. Such a spindly little Charlie Brown Tree. I found it in a boggy place so it’s not surprising that it can take root and I hope it will thrive.

Snow dance

I love finding songbird nests in winter. They are usually so cleverly hidden and this one was in a thicket of bushes and what I think are raspberries. Lots of protection for whatever songbirds made it. The pocket full of snow was just so cute. More tripod contortions for this one and some Photoshop magic to remove some branches that were just annoying.

Below the tangle

Something made a nice snowbank behind this little tree and at first I wished the texture wasn’t there in the snow, but now I’ve worked on it I think it helps rather than hinders. It adds another dimension – can’t you just imagine the wind carving that?

Who lives

This next one required some patience. It was a little breezy and so I had to wait it out. I used a slightly different focus point each time with the idea that I’d stack some shots together. But when I looked at it in Lightroom the leaf was crisp all the way through so I didn’t bother. Better to be prepared though!

Willingly fall apart

Tiny hemlocks in dappled sunlight. They’re a few feet apart and I kept taking shots of them while the light changed subtly, going back and forth with the camera on the ballhead like at a tennis match. These are the best ones with the sun strong enough to produce some shadows, but not too glarey. I love the little cones and the shadows of the branches overhead.

Layers of light
Change of heart

Not really a minimalist shot, but I loved the snow piled on the top mushroom and the open space where it didn’t land below the bottom one. The common name is red-belted polypore. I don’t think I’ve ever photographed these before so that was a bonus.

Fomitopsis pinicola

I saw a bunch of these on the side of a trail and got down into the deep snow to isolate this one from all the other weeds surrounding it. After a few tries with tripod positioning, I finally got an angle I like. After floundering back to the trail and walking a little bit farther, I realized I took a wrong turn and went back. LOL. Was worth it for this though. I’ve never photographed one before.

Pinata for one

It’s a goldenrod gall that has been breached by a chickadee or possibly a downy woodpecker who love these for the fly grubs inside. If not a fly grub, they may find a wasp larvae instead. Certain species of wasp exploit the fly’s handiwork and insert their own eggs inside. When the wasp hatches it eats the fly grub and the food the fly placed for its own offspring. Both wasp and fly larvae can survive very low winter temps. Which ever one makes it crawls up a tunnel it chewed through the gall (almost to the outside) before the plant went dormant. The gall is formed by the goldenrod flower as a response to the invading parasite that is the egg and larva. It does no harm. IRL it’s about 1 inch high.

And finally, a game trail leading off into the woods and toward Rabe creek which is just beyond the trees.

Cold, cold ground

So now we’ve had some 50 degree days here in March and a lot of the snow is gone. The geese, swans and some ducks are back already and it won’t be long before the spring ephemerals come forth the blanket the forest floor, replacing all that snow. But we’ll probably get a few more inches before then, in April we usually get a substantial snow and I hope it’s beautiful. Probably next post will be freezing fog. Probably the last until next winter.

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