urbpan: (dandelion)
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I got some pictures off my camera today, from a walk we took the first weekend of October. As it turned out it was one of Maggie's last walks, so I'm glad I captured it.

14 more pics )

Drive by

Oct. 15th, 2014 08:39 pm
urbpan: (dandelion)
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Poison ivy, as seen at a stoplight on the Jamaicaway.
urbpan: (dandelion)
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We had a great big group on today's Urban Nature Walk at Ponkapoag Pond! I can't remember the last time we had 10 people together on a walk. Great showing, especially considering the weather was damp and raw.

Read more... )
urbpan: (dandelion)
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I caught this guy out of the air. If I wanted to get it identified I'd have posted a pic of its wing so you could see its wing veins. I just wanted you to be impressed that I caught it with my thumb and forefinger.*

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We took the boy dogs down to Mother Brook to let Charlie swim and to let Reggie see if swimming was his thing. Reggie doesn't like to get his feet wet.

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He does like to chew on a stick, and do anything else that Charlie is doing.

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Near where we parked there was this bait station (it's a locked box that has rodenticide bait in it to kill rats). I'm always curious about them (I'm a fun date, let me tell you) so I went over to look at it. This one has an extra difficulty level for the pest control tech that has to service it--can you see what it is?
urbpan: (dandelion)
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A weird crow call drew me out from my office. Just outside, a red tail was getting harassed by a single crow and few songbirds. This grackle was the most persistent of the mob.

many more creatures, in randomish order )
urbpan: (Default)


On Sunday my dad came to visit me and we walked around my neighborhood and ended up at Mother Brook, of all places. This is a condominium park that straddles the brook. Some areas appear to be off-limits while others are public.
Read more... )
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Yesterday I went with @WildDedham and three other hikers for a ramble in the Dedham Town Forest. Most people, including Dedhamites, have never heard of the forest, and that's kind of a nice thing. Ideally it will receive some conservation attention before it becomes well-known to the public. Since it's fairly isolated and fenced in, there's very little in the way of invasive species there. One idea is to complete the fencing to create an exclosure keeping deer out, then plant other native plants (the ones like trillium, that deer tend to graze out of existence) and preserve the place as a native forest plant sanctuary, like Garden in the Woods.

Anyway, it was a pretty amazing place, and we stayed for three hours despite some of the worst mosquito activity I've ever experienced. The mushroom hunting was the best I've ever seen.

21 pictures )
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One of the first of many Poison ivy(Toxicodendron radicans) plants to appear in the yard.

Today I rode a bike along 25 miles of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and my constant companion was poison ivy. Just past the road shoulder new spring growth of red and green leaflets on wiry vines rolled by me. On my leg a blister itched insistently enough that I scratched it open, causing a small drop of blood to weep out.

The neighborhood legend is that one of the previous owners of our house was not fond of children, and so to make his land less inviting--or perhaps to torment small trespassers--he deliberately planted poison ivy. We have found it in four main locations in the yard, and I first encountered it before it leafed out, and came into contact with the oil that causes the allergic reaction. I've been taking Claritin every day to control the reactions, and I continue my policy of avoiding the plant at all costs. Alexis appears not to be allergic, and pulled out a large bagful of the vines this morning.

Poison ivy is one of my favorite plants in fall, rivaled only by sumac and sugar maple.

Poison ivy was 365 urban species #281, and is a frequently recurring character in this journal.
urbpan: (Default)

Alexis tests if she's allergic to poison ivy by pulling it up WITH HER BARE HANDS.
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My awesome friend Alex helps with our yard work.

My neighbor told me that one of the previous owners of the house deliberately planted poison ivy in the yard, because he didn't like kids. I haven't found any yet, but I have the tell-tale rash on my forearm, the top of my foot, and scattered about my body. I assume I came in contact with old PI roots while working on the unending Japanese knotweed removal project.
urbpan: (Default)


The predicted scary blizzard manifested (in Boston at least) as a very agreeable snowfall. Just enough to coat everything and make it pretty (and cover the nasty brown snow left over from the real blizzard), not enough to make the roads too dangerous. We went to Stony Brook Reservation, some public land in the southernmost reaches of Boston, very close to a certain house we admire.

Read more... )
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Winter conditions (let's be honest) make us look harder for the beauty and life. We stumbled upon a whole row of witch hazels that we had no idea were there. Since these are blooming in the fall, there's a good chance they are the native plant American Witch-hazel Hamamelis virginiana. (Putting that Sibley book to use right away.)

Read more... )
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We went to Lost Pond Reservation again today, and I collected some more mushrooms for spore prints, including this lovely Russula (or one just like it).

Read more... )
urbpan: (Autumn)

Photos by [livejournal.com profile] urbpan. Location: Egremont road, Brighton.

Urban species #281: Poison ivy Toxicodendron radicans

The most beautiful fall colors, in my opinion, are expressed by a plant that I usually take pains to avoid. Poison ivy, famous for causing itchy blistery rashes on the skin of those who are sensitive to it, turns yellow, scarlet, and pink. It climbs dead and live trees, chain-link fences and cement walls, putting attractive foliage high in what would otherwise be blank spaces. Along with Virginia creeper and sumac, poison ivy is the best non-tree foliage in the autumn.

In the summer, however, it's hard for most of us to think well of it. The woody stems and shiny leaves are full of an oily toxic substance that about half of the human population reacts to. The blisters don't rise immediately, appearing instead hours, days, or even weeks later. The oil can be brushed off of damaged leaves onto clothes or the fur of your dog, to react on your skin later. Relief from the itch is hard to come by, though prescribed steroids cleared up a severe case I had recently (near the eyes). The traditional home remedy is calamine lotion, a pasty pink concoction that serves to make the sufferer look as leprous as he feels. Others have had success in treating poison ivy rashes with jewelweed juice. These days I take loratadine (generic Claritin) an antihistamine that I take for ragweed-related symptoms anyway, and that seems to keep the worst of the poison ivy dermatitis at bay.

Poison ivy is a perennial vine, native to North America, that aggressively invades open spaces in wooded areas. Its fruit is a white berry that is an important winter food source for many bird species. Birds then defecate the poison ivy seeds, which can germinate in a variety of habitats, including wetlands and disturbed sites in urban areas. Humans appear to be the only animals that suffer from poison ivy dermatitis, and rabbits and deer will browse on its fresh spring leaves. There are several related Toxicodendrons throughout North America, whose taxonomic names seem to be in flux, but are commonly known as poison oak (more shrublike) and poison sumac (resembling sumac, but with white berries).


Poison ivy is the nicer of the decorations in this Brighton maple tree.

a plant for all seasons? )

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