Sunny Fall Days...

It was another beautiful sunny day on Sunday and a perfect day to wander around the woods for a few hours.  I hiked up near the park again, winding my way up the hill to Spruce Run trail and then back down to the creek to follow it back to my car.  It's becoming one of my favorite hikes and it really is a great way to see several different habitats from the old growth forest of the uplands to the open meadows of the floodplain.

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) - 
Eastern Red Cedar is actually part of the Juniper family and I read that they can live for up to 800-850 years.  As a matter of fact, the oldest known specimen from Missouri was dated to 795 years old... amazing.  I personally like Easter Red Cedar, especially since I do a lot of wood working too and have made some incredibly beautiful bowls recently (if I do say myself) from pieces I found in cord wood we had delivered on a camping trip.  

Sewickley Heights Park Trail - 
The sun was shining on this stretch of trail, back lighting the ferns on the hillside in an interesting way.  Shots like this are only possible when the leaves are down, plus the low angle of the sun in the sky this time of year gave the picture a golden glow that really enhanced what would normally be a typical woodland scene.

Orange Hawkweed (Pilosella aurantiaca) -
I was really shocked to find this Orange Hawkweed blooming in my yard since not only is it November but it’s also been so cold lately.  Even though it’s not native to our area and many people consider it a weed/nuisance, I think the orange-red-yellow blossoms are incredibly beautiful.  Orange Hawkweed is also known as the “devil’s paintbrush,” which seems fitting given its vibrant colors.

White Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) -
The wind was in my face when I ran into this 8 point buck, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have gotten so close.  He immediately put some distance between us, so I was lucky to get at least one decent picture of him above me on the hill.

Large Leaf -
I’m really not sure what type of tree this is even though I’ve spent some time trying to identify it.  One possibility is Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata), I’ve read that they have one to two foot leaves, but I don’t think that is correct.  Either way, they are incredibly large and as with most other trees, are starting to yellow and fall.

Red Maple (Acer rubrum) - 
Even though this Maple was incredibly small, its red leaves really stood out against the brown of the forest floor and I spotted it from a good distance away.  Given it size, I would suspect it’s one of this year’s seedlings, so it’s got a tough road ahead if it’s going to survive in the established old growth forest where I found it.

Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) -
I photographed this same stand of Aspen trees a few weeks ago when they still had leaves, but now the leaves have fallen leaving just the bare bark of their trunks standing out against the backdrop of the bright blue sky.


More Pictures:

Red Maple leaves (Acer rubrum)

Turkeytail (Trametes versicolor)

Pear Shaped Puffballs (Lycoperdon pyriforme)

Large leaf (Species unknown)

Unknown white flower (possibly Zig Zag Goldenrod with dried, bleached flowers)