Last weekend I walked the Northern Rail Trail between Webster Lake, in Franklin NH, and Highland Lake, in East Andover, NH. It’s about 5-1/2 miles of flat walking on a wide, mainly shaded trail, crossing over Sucker Brook several times. It was a sunny day, in the mid-70s (warmer than it has been), and almost bug-free.
There was a surprising array of spring plants to notice on this section, including some that made only one appearance that I observed (comfrey; celandine; a black mustard — I think — aka Brassica nigra; some sort of Ranunculus, maybe sceleratus aka cursed crowfoot) while others flourished in sections and then were seen no more (coltsfoot), and still others were with us the whole way (Maianthemum racemosum aka false Solomon’s seal and dandelions in droves, Alliaria petiolata aka garlic mustard sparingly).
The invasive but beautiful and heavenly scented autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) at a road-crossing along one bit of the section hosted several Eastern tiger swallowtails. I saw robins, sparrows and juncos, and heard many others. Dodged caterpillars and neon green inch worms that hung low from the trees over the path. Saw so many different kinds of ferns that I almost felt I was trying to read a foreign language as we walked; I knew that each corresponded to a name but that was as far as my fern-ignorance took me.