|Skyler and Newton|
Every year about this time, my friend Les hosts a Winter Walk-off. To participate in the Walk-off you need only your two feet and camera. The rules are simple- don't photograph your garden/yard and travel by foot.
I have participated every year, last year I won the drawing! I will bow out of the drawing for this year, but still wanted to play along. Each year I have had my four legged friends accompanying me. Sadly we lost our sweet Newtie this year, so I only have one dog, Skyler. Charlie and I have been walking since the end of November, more religiously since the end of December.
Our neighborhood is five miles from end to end and so far there are less than 50 houses built. Much of what we see along the way are blackberry brambles and grasses. We also have a rollercoaster-esk road. The elevations range from 440 feet above sea level at the lake to 550 feet or more. Some hills are harder to climb than others!
My initial goal was 10,000 steps and I have increased it to 11,000 recently. We got Fitbits for Christmas and have become obsessed with how many more steps we need. The only thing I needed to do for the Walk-off was to remember my camera! We only take Skyler on part of the walk, he does about 2 miles.
So, on with the walk....
Ours is a Hickory-Oak forest, bordered by a Pine forest that is harvested by the paper companies. From the road to the lake is more Hickory-Oak, sprinkled with pines. Native trees such as Beech, Fagus grandifolia, show off their Marcescent leaves deep into the forest. (Leaves that remain through the winter) It wasn't until the first winter here that I knew for certain how many beech were in our woods.
Another tree that stands out in the winter landscape is Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis. With its white mottled bark, this tree shines in the forest. This one still has its seedpods, looking like upside down lollipops.
We first saw this hornet's nest in November. A couple days ago I noticed a Hummingbird's nest on the next tree. Sadly, didn't have my camera with me on that walk.
Our quiet neighborhood is growing, this is the most recent lot to have building started. Here is the utilities guy marking the electric and phone lines.
If you keep your eyes open while you are walking you will see all sorts of interesting items. Not sure whose nest this might have been last year. It is nestled in the blackberry brambles, food at their front door?
I noticed that the color on the Eastern Red Cedars, Juniperus virginiana was changing, the flowers are getting ready to explode with their pollen going all over. The dark green foliage is overtaken by the golden male blooms.
Speaking of keeping your eyes open--- I saw this item after walking this direction for almost a month. Do you see it in the photo below? Look closely--- near the © symbol.
How about now? A mysterious round hole. No idea who lives in this hole, if anything. The hole is very round, about 6- 8 inches in diameter. I would love to move my trail camera to this location to see if I could capture on film something coming in or going out of this hole. Sadly there doesn't seem to be a good place to anchor the camera, (yes I know, I could take a post to mount the camera) but remember those brambles I keep mentioning? There is a thick stand of them between the road and the hole. Any guesses?
Not too far from the hole is a nice stand of deciduous holly. I would guess it to be Possumhaw, Ilex decidua, but I don't know for sure. Love the bold red berries!
Before you leave, give a listen to our noisy neighborhood. You can tell spring is in the air!
Skyler is glad the walk is over, he is ready for a drink of water and a rest.
Be sure to check out the other Winter Walk-off posts. Visit A Tidewater Gardener.
©Copyright 2016 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.