Have you seen the infographic go around social media, about ice thickness? It features various size objects standing on ice, and how thick that ice must be to support that mass. It’s an amusing reminder to be safe—and it came to mind as I fell though ice this past weekend. (OOOPS!).
At Long Spur Habitat Area (called “Longdpun” in Google Maps???) in Franklin County, I walked out onto the ice of Luke’s Wetland. Despite a stretch of weather with below-freezing temps, the ice was thinner than I had anticipated…this despite having walked around on several ice-covered wetlands previously that day. My foot broke through, and my boot sank in a ways. So, I found myself with two problems: I had insufficient ice thickness, AND my boot had sunk into the mud, and was sucked into the soft muck. My solution was to lean onto the surrounding ice, spreading out my weight; and I made a rocking motion of my foot, allowing water to slip around my boot, breaking the suction of the mud. I took my time, extracting myself safely. But, it’s a good time to remember to be safe outdoors in winter. (Have any tips or anecdotes? Leave a comment!).
The wetland is situated along Spring Creek. The site has a mix of trees and shrubs, and the setting sun made the colors on the buds, stems, and trunks really shine. Let’s have a look with descriptions; you can practice plant identification, something I enjoy (usually!). At the end of the post, I’ll provide my ID for each.
A-this shrub has a profusion of delicate stems, with shiny red epidermis (skin) and opposite leaf/bud arrangement.
B-this tree has clusters of paper-winged seeds, each about 2 inches (5 cm) long; stems were stout with opposite leaf/bud arrangement.
C-this tree also has opposite leaf/bud arrangement, but upward-curving, thin stems, with shiny red-brown epidermis.
D-this tree has green/gold-skinned stems, tipped with long, sharp buds. The bud and leaf arrangement is alternate (“staggered” on stem). The bark higher up on the trunk is rather smooth and bright.
Across Lark Avenue, a grove of White Pines shelters the birds. I looked for owl pellets (no luck…), but enjoyed seeing many bird prints in the snow (I guess many of you will recognize them? Hint: look closely at the signs to ID the bird!). It was a nice little walk through the trees and along the stream, enjoying the sunset. I hope to return sometime. Thanks for visiting with me!
OK, here are the answers to our little quiz!
A=Redosier Dogwood (Cornus sericea)
B=Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)
C=Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)
D=Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)
And those bird tracks belong to the Ring-necked Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus.