It’s that time of year when everyone gets all confused about beach plums and beach rose hips. The rose hips are big, fat and juicy orange and red at this time of year and you’ll find them on those same bushes along the beaches and dunes where you saw the beach roses, Rosa rugosa earlier in the summer.
They are edible but quite tart! Some people make tea, jam or jelly with them but it seems to be harder than I want it to be so no jam for me. Jelly and tea, maybe….
Anyway, the photo below shows a beach rose hip.
Beach plums have been ripe for a few weeks now and look quite different. They are small, hard purplish fruits and are much desired for making beach plum jelly. These photos were from the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary where the crop was lush and is always left for the wildlife to consume.
Did you know beach plums were related to cherries? Check out their leaves. Below are some that are not quite ripe but these are desired by those that make jelly as well as the unripe fruit helps the rest of it set, especially if the jelly maker is not using pectin.
Below is a choke cherry and you’ve probably been seeing lots of these around. The birds and many mammals go crazy over them! Note to all! Do not park under a choke cherry tree or you’ll be sorry! Below is a photo of a wild lemonade I made using staghorn sumac. I know, crazy, huh?
I have heard about it for years but this is the first year I actually made some and it was delicious! You add about 8 fully seeded heads to a pitcher full of cool water and let it steep for at least 4 hours. Do not heat! Here are the seed heads before adding them to the water.
And here is the seedhead on the staghorn sumac bush. These are all over the Cape but before eating, do make sure your ID is correct! Not all sumacs are good for you…. Anyway, that is just a little wild food inspired post for today…..enjoy!
As many of you know, getting the kids off the couch and away from the screens to do something fun outdoors is a bit of a passion of mine.
This summer I said yes to helping with the summer programs for kids at the Green Briar Nature Center in East Sandwich and it’s been a blast so far. Every morning you can find us out exploring somewhere or making something ….
We hike all over the Game Farm as well as the Briar Patch and sometimes we go out in the canoe catamaran.
Some days we make toys based on science and some days we paint stuff.
One thing we always do is have fun!
There’s still plenty of summer left so find a kid and take them outside. You’ll be glad you did and so will they!
But what I found was more winter…
I started my day at the Lowell Holly Conservation Area in Mashpee. This is usually a delightful place to walk but it had many icy and snowy areas along the trails that were tricky to navigate.
There were many lovely vistas however
You find lots of white pine, beech and of course, American holly here. I also found a nice little stand of Princess pine and tea berry .
Carpet moss is nice and green but the lake is still mostly frozen.
Later, at the Jehu Pond Conservation Area I saw lots of trailing arbutus leaves so mayflowers will be blooming soon!
I saw my first pine warbler of the season and courting hairy woodpeckers but the woods were pretty quiet.
One thing that becomes obvious as the snow melts is how tough winter was for birds and other wildlife. I found signs and remains of multiple birds and even those of a hawk .
But I also found this– a little reminder of the hope that is spring!
Perhaps you’ve seen the photos and news story that went viral about the giant (for us) icebergs breaking up and floating in Cape Cod Bay. Wellfleet at low tide was suggested as the best place and time to see them and that was around 9:30 this morning. Of course I had to go!
I was running a bit behind so I stopped at First Encounter Beach in Eastham. What a sight! About a dozen people were there taking photos and chatting….
Someone had walked out on the ice–not a great idea, by the way–and if you look really closely in the center of the second photo you can see a standing person dressed in black….gives you some idea of how big those chunks of ice were….
When I left there I headed to Wellfleet but at the last minute I thought I’d try Corn Hill in Truro. It should have had the same big ice and maybe not the crowds of Wellfleet. Whoa! I hit a bonus for sure! The water was glassy still, the sky clear and blue and the ice was clean and white!
The photos just don’t do it justice. It was profoundly beautiful, peaceful and sublime. I was there by myself for a long time but finally someone else came by so I could get some scale.
Finally I dragged myself away–it was a warm and lovely day here–and went to Wellfleet. What a mob! Hundreds of people and scraggly looking ice….
I took my lunch to Skaket where there were also a lot of people….
And in the end I was seriously glad I had listened to that little voice that told me to try somewhere different. It was truly a sight and a day I will never forget…
If you go, know that the ice is melting and that salt ice is not reliable, even on the sand. Dogs may try to jump and could be stranded so leashes are advised around the ice floes. Also, low tide is your friend. Don’t wait too long! They will be gone soon.
For some reason seeing ice at the beach makes it feel, oh, a trillion times colder…
Like this just looks cold, doesn’t it? It was!
The stiff wind doesn’t hurt….
That’s not completely true because it hurts your face….
Even when it is beginning to thaw it still just looks cold…
This ice is breaking up but I don’t think it is going to melt away quite yet
At least on the outer beach there is still plenty of open water….
Beaches shown here include Rock Harbor, Paine’s Creek and Nauset Beach.
There’s something about a winter morning on the beach that is downright magical if you can get past the cold and the wind.
This morning there is rain coming in but the air is mild and the wind is still.
There are little chunks of icy sand or sandy ice
There are many beautiful shells
And lots of birds feeding
There are lovely vistas
But mostly there is quiet solitude. What a great way to start the week…..
Last winter I had a little olive and brown colored bird arrive in my yard that I knew immediately wasn’t one of my usual suspects. It had no wing bars, no eye ring and just a touch of golden color here and there. It was quite dainty and lovely and when I looked it up I determined that it must be an orange crowned warbler. They are migrants in our area but unusual so I needed to be very sure. I needed to take a photo.
This bird was little but it knew how to move! I got many blurry shots before getting one that really gave us a chance for a confirmed identity, which I did get.
Just a few weeks ago, I saw the bird, or one like it, again! It was also elusive in terms of being photographed.
I got a lot of shots like this one.
and this one
and this one
before I finally got this one
and this one
It’s a feisty little thing but also very shy. Any time the bigger birds arrive it leaves the suet feeder and the gardens though on the very coldest days it seems to be a little braver.
How long will this bird hang around? No one knows though it seems they hang around where there’s food so we’ll have to wait and see.
In the meantime, it’s a very cool yard bird!
You can learn more about Orange crowned warblers at this link.
Here it is a new year with 365 new days and adventures waiting for us right outside our doors!
Where will we go? What will we see? What will make our hearts soar?
Here’s wishing you all a wonderful year with many walks on the beach, in the woods and around the ponds ahead! Let the adventures begin.
I’m batty about bats and you should be too!
Bats are often feared and misunderstood so I have this little quiz for you today. Feel free to cut and paste and print it. If you do the same with my images in this post please only use them for your own personal use. All written and visual work is protected by copyright.
Busting Bat Myths!
With Cape Cod Art and Nature
True or False?
1. ____ All bats eat insects.
2. ____Bats are mice with wings.
3. ____Bats live on every continent.
4. ____Bats love to eat moths.
5. ____Bats are 25% of all mammals.
6. ____All bats are small.
7. ____Bats have one baby a year.
8. ____Bats live in belfries.
9. ____Bats are mammals.
10. ____Bats want to scare you.
11. ____Vampire bats are real.
12. ____Bats like to nest in people’s hair.
13. ____Bats have thumbs and wrists.
14. ____All bats are nocturnal.
15. ____Bats are blind.
16. ____Bats hibernate.
17. ____Bats can drink water on the fly.
18. ____Bats use echolocation to find food and avoid collisions.
I know it’s been a while since I posted and some people have contacted me with some concern. I am fine! Just busy and these days I do a lot of my social media posting on Facebook. I will be back here in the next few days, however, so thanks for not giving up on me.