December 2 – into the final month

Quick walk through the woods late this afternoon.  The past couple of days have been a little bit warmer, at least compared to the previous week.  We’re still having frost every night, but the low predicted for tonight is a balmy 33 degrees, and it looks like it’s going to actually get quite warm during the rest of the week.

Just a few feet from my house into the forest, I began to hear the tap tap of pileated woodpeckers in the trees.  I followed the sound through the forest until I came to this tree, with a bird pecking away high up in the branches.  In this light, with the camera I have, I’m not going to get a great shot, but at least you can see the shape and a tiny bit of red.Image

As I was watching the one woodpecker, I then realized that it was two birds in the same tree.  I moved around to a place I could see both of them, and took this picture.  I circled the woodpeckers in red.  I wonder if they’re a breeding pair.  I think I may have seen another one just a couple of trees over, but it could have been one of these that changed trees.Image

Walking through the woods, I was thinking about how, visually, the year has pretty much come full circle.  I’m not sure what sorts of aesthetic or biological change I am going to encounter in the next month.  Last year, as I was walking around in December thinking about this project, I was able to keep finding a few species of mushrooms, mostly late-fall oysters and brick caps, all the way up to the end of the year.  This year, after a fall in which we’ve had hard frost immediately after every rainfall, there appears to be nothing out there save for dried up old shelf mushrooms.  I did notice some evidence that the forestry crew has begun working in the woods for the winter, a definite sign of the season. Image

In addition to newly opened tractor paths and piles of logs ready to drag out, I’m also coming across recently cut trunks.Image

This interestingly colored spider caught my eye, as it was the most dramatically colored thing in the forest this afternoon.Image

At one point, I was walking along a path I hadn’t been on in a couple of months, and was surprised that I could see Tupelo off in the distance through the trees.  I think that when the leaves are all on the trees and shrubs, a piece of land can seem bigger.  When I can suddenly see off in the distance, I realize that I’m not as far from the buildings as I believed myself to be last time I was out here. Image

Last time I walked along this creek, it was hard to see more than 20 feet in any direction, as the area was so choked with vegetation and young trees.  Definitely looks different now.Image

The “Beech Forest” part of our land, even during the summer, is notable for feeling open and spacious.  Now that all the leaves are down and the forest is clad in winter gray and brown, it feels even more open.Image

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One response to “December 2 – into the final month

  1. I enjoy reading your blog–with splendid photos of woodpeckers and spiders and mushrooms and trees–and then reading the passages sent me every day from Thoreau’s journals (on Facebook) . Today I was wandering around outside, looking at the Skokie lagoons, and pear trees and a swan a swimming (really) and a bunch of calling birds (Canada geese headed south) and thinking about your blog and Thoreau and I was so happy!

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