Field Trip in Winter

I’m taking a winter botany class through adult education this month. One of our walks was  along Mink Brook, in Hanover, NH. As our class stood in the parking area, we spotted two minks, chasing each other along the bank of the brook! I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to capture it, unfortunately, but it was thrilling to see them. The only other place I have seen mink, twice, was along creeks on Jekyll Island, GA.

I went back to the trails a couple of days later and took a few different paths. Didn’t see the mink that day, but here are some other photos of flora and fauna (mostly flora, because winter botany), plus snowy landscape views. Hope you enjoy.

minkbrookwithtracksoftwominkssnowminkbrooknp23feb2017
You can see the minks’ tracks along the snowy shore!

There’s a kiosk with trail maps and other info near the small parking area off Route 10 in Hanover (there’s also a bigger parking lot up the hill from the trails).

kiosksignmapsnowminkbrooknp23feb2017
kiosk

The Mink Brook Nature Preserve is a 112-acre preserve meant to protect habitat for wild brook trout, waterfowl, black bears, minks, et al.

mallardducksfemalesplashingblackduckminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
mallards and a black duck
femalemallardducksplashingminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
female mallard shaking it in the brook
blackduckminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
black duck

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There are two brooks in the preserve, the smaller Trout Brook and the larger Mink Brook, which is a direct tributary to the Connecticut River, which eventually flows into the Long Island Sound.

minkbrookwatericesnowtreesminkbrooknp23feb2017
brook through snow
brookcurveiceminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
icy curving brook
brooksnowfogtreesminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
mist rising over snow and brook
brookbridgecrosswithcareicysnowminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
“Cross with care” — icy bridge over roaring brook

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Then look out for the little brook in March,
When the rivers overflow,
And the snows come hurrying from the hills,
And the bridges often go.
Emily Dickinson)

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The Upper Valley Land Trust collaborated with the Conservancy to buy the Preserve and it now holds the conservation easement; also part of the same trail system are the Angelo Tanzi Tract, owned by the Town of Hanover.

hanoverconservancyminkbrooksignminkbrooknp23feb2017
The Hanover Conservancy oversees Mink Brook Nature Preserve
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Tanzi Tract sign about invasive species

The main trail runs atop the Hanover sewer system, as you can see by the many sewer covers along the way, obvious even in the snow.

hanoversewer1976manholecoversnowminkbrooknp23feb2017
sewer

The Conservancy, the Hanover Lions Club, and other volunteers have worked to control invasive buckthorn, honeysuckle, barberry, and Japanese knotweed that had overrun the floodplain, then replanted with 2,000 native trees and shrubs, including silver and red maple, red osier dogwood, and elderberry, selected because they are adapted to changes in water levels and provide wildlife food and cover. (We still saw buckthorn, barberry, and knotweed on our walks, though.)

Pets are allowed so long as they are under voice control and their people pick up their waste (which not everyone does, I noticed). Fishing is also permitted, though trapping, hunting, biking, and camping aren’t.

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Herewith, some trees and evidence of trees and shrubs:

acerspicatummountainmaplebudminkbrooknp23feb2017
bud of mountain maple (Acer spicatum)
coryluscornutabeakedhazelnutcatkintwotonebudminkbrooknp23feb2017
Beaked hazelnut catkin (Corylus cornuta)
populusdeltoidescottonwoodtreetrunkbarkcloseminkbrooknp23feb2017
Cottonwood tree (Populus deltoides) bark
boxelderbudscloseminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
bud of box elder (Acer negundo)
redmapletreeleafsnowminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
red maple (Acer rubrum) leaf in snow
smallwhiteoaktreetrunkbarksnowMinkBrookNP23Feb2017
white oak (Quercus alba) trunk
whiteoaktreeleavesminkbrooknp23feb2017
white oak (Quercus alba) leaves

carpinuscarolinianasspvirginianamusclewoodamericanhornbeamtreetrunkbarksnowminkbrooknp23feb2017

Musclewood aka blue beech aka American hornbeam tree (Carpinus caroliniana ssp. virginiana) tree trunk

witchhazelflowersbranchesMinkBrookNPHanoverNH25Feb2017
witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) stems with flowers
witchhazelflowersminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) flowers
treestanzitractsnowminkbrooknp23feb2017
trees in snow

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And perennials, wildflowers:

thistleflowerheadsnowminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
thistle
damesrockethesperidesmatronalisseedssnowminkbrooknp23feb2017
probably Dame’s Rocket (Hesperides matronalis) seedhead
burdockbristlesbybrookminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
Burdock (Arctium sp.) burrs by brook

Two of the three kinds of goldenrod galls:

The first shown is the ball gall (aka apple gall), which forms in late spring when the Goldenrod Gall Fly (Eurosta solidaginis) lays an egg on a goldenrod stem: “After the egg hatches about ten days later, the hungry larva eats its way into the stem and forms a feeding/living chamber. This stimulates the host plant to create the ball gall, which provides more space and a lot more succulent goldenrod cells on which the grub can dine all summer long.” The ball starts out green and shiny like the stem but over time it turns brown and eventually this purple shade. Inside the gall — though not this one, as a downy woodpecker seems to have bored its way in — a small fly larva overwinters by replacing its fluids with glycerol, a sort of larva antifreeze. (source for more info and pics)

purplebluegallsnowminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
ball gall

The second is called a bunch gall (or a flower gall) and occurs only in Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis). It’s caused by  a Goldenrod Gall Midge (Rhopalomyia solidaginis) that lays its egg in a leaf bud: “After the grub hatches, its presence somehow keeps the stem from growing and elongating, even though the goldenrod continues to produce leaves. This results in a tight, flower-like cluster of foliage, usually at the top of the goldenrod’s main stalk. Although the Goldenrod Gall Midge is the only insect known to cause a bunch gall, the heavily leaved cluster may become home to a diverse assemblage of arthropods, including spiders and other midge species; for this reason, the Goldenrod Gall Midge has been referred to as an ‘ecosystem engineer.'” (source)  There were lots of these on one side of the brook.

wildflowerheadsnowminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) flower gall

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Finally, ferns, lichen, moss:

ostrichfernsporeheadsnowminkbrooknp23feb2017
Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) spore frond
orangeyellowlichentreetrunkminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
yellow lichen
greenmossashtreetrunksnowminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
green moss on a white ash tree (Fraxinus americana)
christmasfernsnowminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) in snow
chartreusemosslichensnowminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
chartreuse moss and some lichen, on a log in snow

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Sometimes, I just like the look of rocks:

colourfulorangeyellowrocksnowminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
colourful orange rock

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wateraquaticplantssnowbrookMinkBrookNP23Feb2017
a little glimpse of wetland through the snow
iceinbrooktreeshadowsMinkBrookNPHanoverNH25Feb2017
ice in the brook, with trees and shadows

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I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
Against my sandy shallows.

I murmur under moon and stars
In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars;
I loiter round my cresses;

And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

— last lines of “The Brook Poem,” Alfred Lord Tennyson

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