I’ve not felt great the past couple of days. Some sort of sinus problem kept me home from work yesterday. It has since moved into my throat and chest, but as bad as it feels there, it’s a ton better than in my head.

I have a new laptop. My old hard drive was getting pretty full, and the screen was showing its age. It’s not a new new laptop, but rather, something we had kicking around at work. I also got a new hard drive for it, and have spent the evening installing the OS and copying files from my old laptop to this one. While stuff was copying, I took Penny to the backyard for some stick throwing, and also to play with a piece of #14 welder’s glass that I ordered online (it came in today).

What kind of fun can a guy have with #14 welder’s glass? How about… photographing the sun!

The sun through a piece of #14 welder's glass

The sun through a piece of #14 welder’s glass


It has something of a green tint, doesn’t it? So I adjusted the white balance to make the sun white.
Sun with white balance set to... the sun

Sun with white balance set to… the sun


These are not great shots, but they are also the first ones I’ve ever taken of the sun. The camera didn’t much want to focus, so I set it to infinity manually. I think 93 million miles is close enough to infinity as far as the camera is concerned.

Now if I lived a bit farther to the west, I might use this to take pictures of the upcoming eclipse. Yeah – that’s on May 20. But I won’t get to see that here. Instead, I will wait until June 5 and take pictures of the transit of Venus. That won’t happen again for another 108 years, so if it interests you, you’d better get on it now. Google it if you must. The Innernets know all.

I also made a lap around the front of the property.

Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)

Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)

American toad (Bufo americanus)

American toad (Bufo americanus)


OK, the taxonomists have moved the American toad out of the Bufo genus and into some other genus. They keep doing that to a lot of frogs, and I just can’t keep track anymore. To me, it’ll be Bufo for a while longer.

While I was out doing all that, Va whipped out the mop. The mop and the dog are not compatible with one another, and since I was feeling better than I had been, I offered to take the dog down to the pond (even though there was only an hour of daylight left, and the sky was clouding up). I’m glad I did.

Lily of th valley (Convallaria majalis )

Lily of th valley (Convallaria majalis )


The lily of the valley was in bloom. There wasn’t a whole lot of available light, and macro photography does not much benefit from flash, so I did what I could. Jack up the ISO to about 800, minimize the f-stop, open up the shutter, and hold the camera as still as I could. I still need to make another attempt on that infernal tripod mounting hole.

We got to the pond, and the dock had been rolled out. So I walked out onto it and steadied my camera on a post to take this shot.

Sandogardy Pond

Sandogardy Pond


It was a nice evening, even if it was threatening to rain. Penny and I continued on, and I found the corn lilies in bloom.
Corn lily aka blue bead lily aka Clintonia borealis

Corn lily aka blue bead lily aka Clintonia borealis


I was out here a couple of day ago (before the black plague/Ebola or whatever took hold of my sinuses) and managed to harvest a few leaves from these. Peterson says they taste like cucumbers, and I would have to agree. I ate half of them raw, and I cooked the other half and had them with butter. They are pretty OK! You do have to get them before the leaves fully unfurl, otherwise, the flavor is way too strong.

Then Penny and I headed back to the house. I had been throwing sticks for her almost non-stop since we had left, and she was starting to get tired. She needs that. When we got home, she lied down next to her water bowl and just about emptied it. Yes – that’s the sign of a good walk!

These are shots I took mostly at my place this week. We’ll start with this little guy.

Eastern newt  (Notophthalmus viridescens)

Eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)


He didn’t want to hold still for me after I took this first shot, so it came out the best. It was overcast and rainy and heading towards sunset when I took it.

Starflower (Trientalis borealis)

Starflower (Trientalis borealis)


The starflowers have bloomed now. I’ve been watching them for a while, and this week was the first time this year I’ve seen one open. There are lots of them in my woods right now.

Here’s another one I’ve been watching, the Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense). This one has only partly opened, and that’s still farther along than most of them in my woods.

Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)

Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)

The dwarf ginseng is still in bloom for the most part, but this one has already fruited now. They aren’t in season for very long.

Dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolia)

Dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolia)


They do have edible roots, and I dug a few up and ate them last year. They were pretty good. These are along the stone wall bordering my neighbor, and he has cut a lot of trees (he’s getting ready to build a new house). So that lets a lot more sun into my woods, and I don’t know if these will bloom here again or not. They might get out-competed by sun-loving plants next spring. We’ll see.

Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)

Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)


I guess I’ve done the gaywings about to death now, but I liked this triplet. So here you go again.

My chokeberries are blooming now. Most blossoms are still closed, but there are a few brave ones here and there.

Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)

Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)


The red stamens fade quickly to pink, and then to brown. I like them best when they are red.

I’ve got plenty of wild sarsaparilla to go around. This one is just beginning to bloom.

Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)

Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)


Not all of them make flowers. I’d say maybe a quarter of them do. I have no idea why that would be though. Maybe it’s the conditions here, or maybe they are dioecious (i.e., male and female versions).

Here’s another chokeberry. This one has nice and red stamens.

Another chokeberry

Another chokeberry

And finally, here’s another amphibian for you.

American Toad (Bufo  americanus)

American Toad (Bufo americanus)


If amphibians were bread, this post would be a flower sandwich.

Over the past two days I’ve seen lots of nature. Luckily for me, I like that sort of thing. Let’s take a look at what I managed to capture. Not all of it makes for great photography, but I sure thought it was interesting.

Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)

Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)


Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) is one of my favorites. I stumbled across one of these along the edge of the lawn, and then made a bee-line to where I have seen them growing in semi-profusion in the past. Jackpot. There are a ton of them there.

Blackberries (Rubus spp)

Blackberries (Rubus spp)


The blackberries have bloomed. If all the flowers on my place turn into berries, I ought to be able to pick a couple of gallons this summer. What I like best about them here in NH is that I can pick them without getting chiggers. I can deal with mosquitoes and black flies, but chiggers are in a category of their own. I have many unpleasant memories of running into those in the South. Shudder!

Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)

Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)


This is another that I always watch closely. The stamens are red when the flowers first open, and that makes for a much prettier blossom. It doesn’t take long before the red drains out. It’s still pretty then, just not as stunning. Even though I checked this one every day, I only managed to catch the tail end of the red phase.

Stupid Zamboni

Stupid Zamboni


Not everything was good though. Last winter, a trail groomer hit a patch of thin ice on Sandogardy Pond and fell through. These are large machines, similar to a Zamboni (if not the same thing). The NH Department of Environmental Services came out the next day to fish it out, but look what I see on the pond now. It’s not unusual to see rainbow slicks in Sandogardy, but I have never seen them this thick or in so many places. Ugh.

I was at the pond to see if I could catch the false hellebore in bloom. Bingo!

False Hellebore (Veratrum viride) blossom

False Hellebore (Veratrum viride) blossom


Until I took this shot (and several others of the same plant), I didn’t have a photo of this species in bloom. Psych! One for the album!

Goldsmith Beetle (Catalpa lanigera)

Goldsmith Beetle (Catalpa lanigera)


This beauty was on the screen door when I left for work this morning. If my id is correct, this beetle feeds on aspens (which I have here). According to my Audubon Field Guide, it was also mentioned in a book by Edgar Allen Poe. Not that I have read it.

Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum)

Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum)


I’m working on identifying ferns this summer. This is a close-up shot of a pinna from a Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum). These have been popping up all over the place here, and I had an inkling that’s what it was. So I looked it up this evening and found that that’s exactly what it is. After reading the identifying features, I ventured out into the twilight to collect a specimen for closer examination (and confirmation). The pinnula (tiny leaves on the pinnae) are exactly the correct shape. The pinnae also have a wooly base where they connect to the rachis. I was trying to capture that here, and I guess I kinda, sorta did.
Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) sporangia

Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) sporangia


The fertile fronds are waaaay different from the sterile ones (shown previously). These turn the color of cinnamon when they are covered with sporangia (spore containers). Peterson’s Field Guide reports that the sporangia look like a tiny Pacman. So I took the best macro shot I could and zoomed in so you could see it too. Yeah – one of those is split open like Pacman’s mouth. Here’s the photo I zoomed in on to get the above detail.
Fertile frond of O. cinnamomeum

Fertile frond of O. cinnamomeum


I took these shots in the bathroom with the super bright lights turned on. When I thought I was done, I put the camera down and started gathering up fern bits so I could chuck them outside. That’s when I spotted this guy:
Fern visitor

Fern visitor


I haven’t attempted an id yet, but I’m guessing this is a spittle bug. It’s about the right size.