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28 Mar

keywords: fungus, roots, erractic, rockwalls, squirrels

 

A cut stump (note the flat top). This was probably a conifer of some sort judging by the whorl of branch wood being exposed by the rot.

These multi-trunk trees probably derive from stump sprouts that came up after past logging. The current trunks serve to outline the original trunk of the mother tree.

 

This hemlock has peeled off the rocks, taking a clump of soil and stones down hill with it. Over the centuries, these falls can be one agent of 'creeping soil'.

This Hemlock has so far done a better job of holding on.

We found this dead Chesnut Oak trunk with these dramatic openings... a mystery for us.

 

These appear to be spots where squirrels gnawed off bark, chewing down to a black layer formed by 'charcoal mat fungus' or a similar species.

Our guess is that perhaps many of the chewed areas originally supported mushrooms like these, and that squirrels (which commonly eat mushrooms) then did a very diligent job of consuming the mushrooms, thereby leaving the odd holes along the bark. It's a guess. I picked away a few of these mushrooms to reveal the charcoal black beneath.

It's Spring in the moss world. When this clump of moss was brushed, a cloud of fine spores rose into the air. In this picture, some of the ripe sporophytes (the stemmed capsule that hold the spores) have already lost their 'sleeping caps', exposing the dusty, spore-distributing tips. According to Claudia this is Atrichum angustatum.

This rockwall follows an outcrop out onto the hillside before abruptly stopping. Walls like this probably never kept livestock out of anything, but they were often surrmounted by wooden rails that completed the fence. That wood has long-since rotted away.

Rock piles like these could have come from a variety of sources. It is known from old deeds that Native Americans in the County created stone piles by tossing stones on as they passed, perhaps as landmarks of a sort. However, the multiple piles along the edge of Phudd Hill, some of which contain large rocks and abut the rockwalls, may more likely be the result of rock clearing by colonial farmers.

Many of these trees are 'old field pines'; White Pines which grew up when these former fields were abandoned. The split trunks apparently are the 'scars' of past infestations of the White Pine Weevil.

 

A massive oak snag along one of the walls. The branching of this tree is evidence that it grew up when both sides of the fence were open field. The scar down the trunk suggests that lightning contributed to its demise.

 

Our goal: the Phudd Hill Erratic. (Note Django, our black lab, for scale.) Erratics are large boulders that were transported from elsewhere by the glaciers.

The Phudd Hill Erratic is perched atop the hill - there is no overhaning rock cliff from which it could have fallen.

In addition, this is not a local type of rock - these waves on the boulder's under belly indicate a sedimentary stone of some sort, but quite unlike the local shales (and slates) that make up all of those rockwalls and outcrops ...

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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in Nature

 

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