The Notebook

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15 January 2022 – It is still winter but a new year. White-tailed deer are wearing their darker coats and seeking out food that is scarce, wandering farther afield. This contributes to the deer population that poses an ecological problem in forests. A full discussion of the white-tailed deer, their habits, and ways to deal with them are in the full article.

This white-tailed deer doe has become so accustomed to humans that she stares blithely at the camera without a hint of alarm; the tail is in the fully lowered position.

14 December 2021 – Winter is a good time to look at rocks and the geology of Great Falls is one of the best places to get started. It marks the fall line which was the original edge of the North American Plate. The jumbled metamorphic rocks along its banks were once 15 miles under an ocean called Iapetus. The Full Story with more pictures is here.

The Great Falls of the Potomac River

9 November 2021 – Autumn is harvest time when the fruits are ready for dispersal by animal scavengers for which they were evolved to attract. Blueberries are a case in point. Growing in acidic soils, they produce berries that are blue and sweet using the chemical anthocyanin, the same one that turns maple leaves red. More about blueberries

The sweet succulence of wild blueberries attracts animals to consume them, including hikers.

8 October 2021 – Coral Fungi of the Family Clavariaceae are a case study in the changes in fungal taxonomy engendered by the DNA revolution of biology. The coral shape provides more surface area for spore formation and has been replicated by many species that have no evolutionary relationships. But they are still “all in the family.” For the Details

Clavaria pyxidata became Clavicorona pyxidata and now Artomyces pyxidatus – It is Still Crown-tipped Coral

10 September 2021 – The Red-spotted Purple Butterfly copies the Pipevine Swallowtail which is toxic to birds in the southern states. In the north, it has a broad white stripe and is called the White Admiral. This is an example of Batesian mimicry. More about butterfly evolutionary mutations here.

The Red-spotted Purple Butterfly is the same species (Limenitis arthemis) as the White Admiral

12 August 2021 – The Brown Thrasher is a hiker, striding through wooded thickets in search of insects. It is equally a master of birdsong, having a greater repertoire than any other songbird, including its better known cousin, the mockingbird. For more about the life and times of thrashers, read the article.

The cryptic colors of the Brown Thrasher are well suited to its habitat of trees and reeds.

17 July 2021 – The columbine is summer’s finest flower. Its name is derived from Columba, the Latin word for dove, appearing to some as five doves with their tails upward and wings swept downward. It is configured to be pollinated by the ruby-throated hummingbird. The full article has details

The Columbine is also called Rock bells, Meeting houses, and Jack-in-trousers

11 June 2021 – Spring is almost over and the wood frog tadpoles only have a few more months to mature before the ephemeral pool dries. Vernal pools are key habitats for many amphibian and other aquatic species. Learn more about the nature of the pools and why they need protection in the article here

14 May 2021 – The periodical cicadas are “magical” as their genus name Magicicada suggests. The 17 -year cycle (the last was 2004) is also one of the species names septendicum. Found only in North America, they the most compelling reminder of the enduring nature of evolution. Full article

19 April 2021 – April showers bring may flowers, and some of them are onions, like the Nodding Wild Onion, the subject of this month’s research. Details are at the added page.

The imposing florescence of the Nodding Wild Onion attracts pollinators to do its bidding.

22 March 2021 – Spring has sprung! The Eastern Fence Lizards are out again. Details if interested

A wary Eastern Fence Lizard ponders flight or fright freeze as a defensive measure if the cryptic colors don’t work and if escape is not fast enough, the tail can be sacrificed as a detached decoy. It grows back in several months..

19 February 2021 – The Royal Fern Family (Osmundaceae) includes the royal fern, the cinnamon fern and the interrupted fern. They are the oldest fern families, and related to all other extant ferns. Details in the article

This is the cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) named for the cinnamon brown color of the fertile frond.

22 January 2021 – The Bird’s Nest Fungus has nothing to do with birds or nests. The eggs are clusters of spores called peridioles that are splashed out by raindrops. More here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contact Information:           William Needham – Needham82@aol.