...Hello Spring

Since it was such a cold winter, this year's spring weather has been welcome more so than in the past.  And Spring is fast becoming my favorite time of the year since this is when the plants and animals shake off the winter's grasp and get ready for warmer months ahead, just like we do. 

Little Sewickley Creek
Even though Spring is getting into full swing now, a couple of weeks ago patches of snow could still be found in some of the more shadowy areas of the creek.

Skunk Cabbage "Flower" (Symplocarpus foetidus)
Skunk Cabbage "Flowers" are always the first blossom of the year to appear and even though they are not a typical flower, they are quite pretty with their vibrant yellow and purple colors.

Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica
Spring Beauties are some of my favorite wildflowers and one of the first that I learned to identify a few years back.  Their pink and white blossoms are quite striking, even though they are very small.

Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)
Snowdrops are aptly named since they are one of the very first wildflowers to appear after the snow finally melts plus their brilliant white blossoms are reminiscent of freshly fallen snow.

Octopus Tree
I first found this tree probably 20 years ago and I've always called it the "octopus" tree since it looks like an octopus to me with its tentacles branching out over top of the rock in four different directions.  Unfortunately it is now dying and it won't be long before it falls.

Beech Aphid Poop Eater Fungus (Scorias spongiosa)
I've always been fascinated by the relationship Beech Aphid Poop Eater fungus has with Beech Aphids since it's the only instance that I know of where one organism depends on another's poop for survival, which is known as an "obligate" relationship. I didn't see as much of it this past winter as I did last year's winter though, so like many species, Beech Aphids probably have good years and bad years... and so do the Poop Eaters.

Black Footed Polypore (Royoporus badius)
I photographed this Black Footed Polypore last year during the early fall and I'm surprised it is still around and in such good shape.  While it is not quite as healthy looking as it was, it is still quite beautiful.

Fig Leaf Buttercup (Ficaria verna)
Fig Leaf Buttercups are pretty little yellow flowers, but they are not native to our area and can be highly invasive.  They tend to grow in large "mats" and will carpet the forest floor so densely that they will strangle other small plants and wildflowers.

Frog Eggs
I'm not sure what type of eggs these are, but if i had to guess I would say Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) based on the number and size of the clusters.  We found these in the backwater of Little Sewickley Creek that I've written about before.

Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)
My youngest nephew spotted this Garter snake out sunning itself and it was actually the second one he spotted that day.  It was a decent size too, probably 2 or 2 1/2 feet long.

Spring Fed Waterfall 
This small waterfall actually originates from a large spring about 100 feet or so up out of the picture.  All the creeks and tributaries were really flowing on Saturday and this spring was no exception.

More Pictures:

Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)

Turkeytail Mushrooms (Trametes versicolor)

Frog Eggs

Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)


Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

Fig Leaf Buttercup (Ficaria verna)