I figured it would be better to put some of the pictures I have wanted to share into one post, and just separate them by date, rather than make a bunch of individual posts. So, here are some pictures, from April 6th and April 13th primarily.
On April 6th, we went hiking for a little bit near an archery range outside the Coon Rapids Dam park. There is an area of woodland behind the range, and beyond that is a large marshy field. For awhile, me and my mom have been trying to find a deer shed. Since deer shed their antlers every winter, if you look carefully, you can sometimes find them laying on the ground. Hunting for these sheds is a hobby for some, and there are plenty of local organizations of shed hunters. So, when we have visited this archery range before, we saw a lot of deer around, and decided to look around a bit for sheds or lost arrows.
While my mom looked for sheds, I explored a bit back through the woods.
These pine trees caught my eye in person, since they were rather short and created the image of a dark woods. It was a bit hard to capture in a photo, but it drew me towards them anyway. As it turns out, they appear to have been planted sometime. I went on past them, and came to the open marsh.
There are a lot of marshes like this in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota. In some cases, a region of land like this is called an Open Space, intended to provide diversity in plant life and allow for some prairies and marshes to grow. Apparently, these lands are similar to how central Minnesota was before settlement.
We wandered around some more, but had no luck finding sheds. We did stop by a nearby cache, but didn’t have any luck finding it. We found a cache nearby however, that had a high terrain rating and involved sliding down a steep hill and retrieving a cache from up a tree, but I don’t have any good pictures of it. We like high terrain caches like that, though. They provide for a more interesting experience reaching the cache. The journey is half the fun, right?
If anyone from my area is reading this and wants to check out the cache, it was “Bath Toy Repurposed – Duckie”.
Oh, and on April 5th I took this picture of the grain on a piece of petrified wood we purchased for my grandfather.
I am not sure how old it is, and was hoping that people experienced in wood might be able to identify it if it isn’t an extinct species. I will try posting it on some forums and see if I can find anything out. This piece had an especially distinctive grain, and beautiful reddish coloring.
A week later, we were looking for deer sheds again, in a forest at the edge of the Lakes housing community in Blaine. It borders the large Blaine Open Space, a huge 500 acre area of tall grass lowland and forest that has more than 30 caches throughout it. We have been here before as well, looking for a high-terrain cache that is rather far up a tree (X-TREMELY EVIL) that we have not figured out how to get to. Other people have used tree climbing spikes, but we would rather not. When we were here last, we startled off a large herd of deer. This area seems to provide a good mix of habitats for them, since it is a mix of forests and open, wet lowlands. We spent about an hour wandering around searching the ground for antlers, and were getting ready to leave when my mom hit the jackpot.
This was the first shed we had ever found, and it was larger than we expected. Squirrels, rats, mice and more eat them for nutrients, so this late in the season we were expecting some small nubs. But, this was a very satisfying and large find. It only has some light chewing too, and is mainly intact.
After this, we had to spend some more time looking around, and we did actually find a few more. Two were very heavily chewed, and weren’t even worth taking. We just left them for the squirrels to keep eating. I found one more that was more chewed and smaller than the one pictured above, but it was still in fairly good condition, so we took it as well. I also found this feather laying on the ground, and have yet to find out what it is from. It has nice coloring though, and is very intact.
This time of year, Minnesota is pretty uniformly tannish brown. There are some sporadic periods of warmth, but it still gets below freezing some nights. The snow is melting and revealing the dead stalks of grass and undergrowth from the last year. These forests get absolutely covered in undergrowth and brush during the summer, and it is a very different scene. Still, you can see in some places the greenery starting to show.
The red stalks coming up out of that moss are apparently sporophytes, a moss structure that grows up to release spores. There is an animation giving the basics on the moss life cycle at “Life Cycle of a Moss”. Some mosses had these sporophytes and some didn’t, but I got the impression that they are only temporary.
Here are some small ferns that are starting to poke up. Soon enough, ferns like this will be all over the forest floor.
Below is just another picture I took of this area.
And, last of all, there was a beautiful sunset that night that I took a few pictures of.
I tried to take pictures of the Lunar Eclipse on the night of April 14th/morning of April 15th, but it doesn’t seem like I had much luck. I haven’t gone through all of them yet though, so if any did turn out well, I will post them up. It was pretty cool to see regardless. At times, the coppery orange color reminded me of Mars, which was also very bright that night. It was at its closest to Earth for a few years, and therefore shined as bright as Sirius. Thanks for reading!