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Too blue to be true

>> Monday, April 12, 2010

This past weekend was decidedly colder than some we've experienced lately, especially if one was exposed to the wind.  The sun was delicious, though, so Saturday afternoon we spent a few minutes along the Erie Canal trail just to see what was greening.

It turned out there was a lot of fresh glowing green.  It's amazing just how fast everything turns all different shades of green in the spring.  I particularly love how the trees get all spotty when their new leaves start to emerge.

The fresh bright buds against the sky made the sky seem an unbelievable shade of blue.

The colors were so bright they were almost neon in places.  Whenever the colors are that intense, I always think that if I painted a painting using those colors, people would think it was too bright to look real.  Sunsets often have that effect, but new growth and blue April sky can apparently be too intense to seem real, too.

Moss on the top of a post, outlined against the sky:

Since the wind was mighty cold but the sun so hot it was quickly thawing the frozen groceries in the car, we didn't linger long along the trail.  However, we did spot one odd thing that I cannot for the life of me explain:

The other side of it:

You can click on the photos to enlarge them.  It looked like perhaps a pellet of some kind?  It was super lightweight and stuck together into a tight little dry ball with some kind of saliva or mucus that dried clear and shiny.  It was composed largely of iridescent beetle wings.  There was some fuzzy stuff that looked like it might have been fur stuck in there, too, although it could have been some kind of plant matter.  I wished, not for the first time, that I had a good macro lens for the camera so I could show off its detail better.  It's on my (rather long) wish list.  I should have adjusted the aperture on the camera to get more of it in focus, but didn't think to do so until after I was home and downloaded the photos.

Any of my faithful readers have any ideas?

After we left the canal path to drive the rest of the way home, I made my husband pull over next to a bit of swamp so I could take some more photos.  The colors were just as magnificent in the swamp, with the water reflecting that unbelievably blue sky.

Last year's cattails were glowing in the sun:

There wasn't as much green in the swamp as there was along the trail, but just above the water tiny new cattails were starting to emerge:

If you look carefully, you can see a Canada goose sticking her neck out standing on a log in the center of this one:

We had to watch carefully for a few minutes before we could find the source of the echoing tapping sound emanating from a patch of cattails.  The culprit?  A downy woodpecker, pecking on one of the hollow reeds:

Have I mentioned my abiding love of swamps?  I especially adore them this time of year, when the frogs are gregarious and the mosquitoes few and far between.  I always find myself wanting a pair of waders when I look at a swamp like this - standing on its edge just isn't quite close enough.


Anonymous April 12, 2010 at 10:29 PM  

Looks like some sort of dung with bug componets

Ellen Rathbone April 13, 2010 at 3:20 PM  

The dark color suggests a scat. Owl pellets (et al) are more of a light grey color and made of compacted fur/feathers, sometimes insect parts. Because of the color and how you described it, I'd be inclined to go with scat.

Now, the question is: how big was it? It might be a bear scat - bears are eating whatever they can find right now, and insects snarfed up from rotting logs (beetles, ants) will be filling out their menu until more greens are available (although your greenery is a LOT further ahead than ours).

Woodswoman Extraordinaire April 13, 2010 at 3:33 PM  

Ellen, I'd say it was far too small to be bear scat. Plus, we don't get many bears 'round these parts, although admittedly it isn't unheard of. I'd guess it has a diameter of maybe 2 inches? What else eats boatloads of beetles?

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