Friday, February 15, 2008

Cloverfield Walk

Once or twice a week, Andie the Dog and I take a walk through a large field of clover south of our apartment. The south end of the field has a small drainage pond and the condo complex across the street surrounds a small patch of forest that is usually filled with birds. Today’s walk was especially productive, here are some highlights.

A flock of 100+ American robins were picking through the field. At least two males performed the first robin songs I’ve heard all year. Robins are one of my favorite local birds because they build many easily observable nests in the spring and I am a huge nest junkie.

The pond contained the usual male bufflehead, three pairs of gadwalls, and a pair of American wigeons.

In the forest patch, I noticed that beaked hazels are opening their bright green and yellow catkins.

The pendulate flowers are the male parts and the buds with bright red filaments are the female parts. I am not sure about the adaptive significance of such bright color on parts that are used to collect wind-dispersed pollen. I hope a botanist reads this and chimes in.

Last fall, I collected a bagful of nuts from these hazels. I brought them home, peeled of the slivery husks, cracked the shells, removed the meat, toasted them in a fry pan, and added them to a pesto. It was probably the most labor-intensive vegetarian pasta dish in recent history.

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