(Pictures relating to the text appear at the end of the notes.)
keywords: flicker, pasture, rocks
The Flicker's breast feathers.
Back of the head.
This male's black mustache.
The underside of the tail.
Top of the tail. Flickers are woodpeckers and have stiff tail feathers that support them while pecking on trunks (although they are often also seen in fields).
Underside of the wing.
Top of the characteristic white rump.
And yet this is the general impression one usually gets - the body's speckled, brown feathers which fade easily into the natural background.
An eager Jack-in-the-Pulpit.
Blue Cohosh flowers.
A Baltimore Oriole. My tip for recognizing the song (and you won't get many of these - I'm a poor by-ear birder) is to listen for the beat - Orioles have rhythm.
An old pasture is a grassland with woodland tendencies...
Pears are in bloom. While not as thorny as some plants, the tips of Pear twigs tend to have a spur.
Hawthorn, our partial namesake (Henry Barnes said the Valley was named after both Nathanial Hawthorne & the plant); these plants are well-equipped to deter browsing and seem to do relatively well in and around pastures.
An Eleagnus (probably Autumn Olive), note spine.
The ubiquitous, at least in our pastures, Multiflora Rose. This plant was originally propagated by the USDA as a living fence. It's a rather 'wandering' fence however.
Red Cedar is actually a Juniper, but, in any case, the spiny version of its foliage could prove painful to the lips of potential browsers.
The Red Cedar in the center background as finally escaped browse pressure (at least until we start raising giraffes), but note that its lower branches are gone until just about the height that a cow can easily reach. This is called a 'browse line', and is also seen where deer are particularly active.
One interesting feature of Red Cedar is that once its foliage escapes browse pressure, it becomes wider, softer and more feathery - not as good at protecting the plant, but perhaps better at gathering sunlight. Is the change in foliage solely a matter of height on the plant or does the plant somehow sense browsing?
A relatively tasty tree has managed to grow up inside of a thorny, spiny nursery. It's now tall enough to avoid most browsing and might eventually start shading out the once-protective brush at its base.
This little White Pine is trying to survive browsing by huddling at the base of a better-protected plant; judging by it already chewn state, it may not make it.
Cattle traffic can wear away soils that cover bedrock near the surface, especially during wet weather. The result can be a pasture like this with protruding rocks. Of course, sometimes rock outcrops were there before the forest became pasture.
Here's some evidence for exploration: 1948 (top) and 2004 (bottom) aerial images of the pasture we visited. Does it seem more or less rocky today? What other changes do you see? (Click on each image for an enlarged view.)