April 23, 2012

Cedar Apple Rust

I went outside after the rain with my camera to capture water droplets on leaves. I really enjoy taking photographs when the weather is overcast. The lack of sunshine enables colors to be more distinct and vibrant.  I caught a splash of bright orange within the stand of junipers from the corner of my eye. A closer inspection revealed an intriguing, unusually shaped and rarely seen organism that I had only read about - Cedar Apple Rust.

This fungus needs two host plants in order to live. On this native juniper, Juniperus viginiana, it has produced this very showy gall. (It looks a bit like a sea anemone or sea urchin.) It also needs an apple or crabapple tree near by to finish its life cycle.

April 19, 2012

White Throated Sparrow

Today I saw and identified a white throated sparrow. It is the first time I have ever seen one. It has two little patches of yellow on the top of it's head, in addition to a white throat and black and white stripes on its head.

April 16, 2012

Where Are the Birds?

We had an early start to spring which means an early season of hatching and growth of insects as well as plants. The robins were here in numbers early, as were the phoebes, and many of the winter visitors to feeders must be concentrating on the insects for food. I haven't seen a titmouse, nuthatch, woodpecker or flicker in weeks and a single chickadee appears once in a while. The house sparrows and house finches are still regulars though. I haven't seen the juncos in a few days, so I guess they finally headed north. But I am still waiting for the arrival of the wrens, cat birds, mockingbirds and Baltimore oriole.
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