on this first full day where it wasn't raining, i went with bruce this morning to the whitney and thayer woods in hingham/cohasset. i'd picked the place because of the large tract of rhododendrons that i was hoping would be in bloom (i'd been there one other time, july 2004). due to the rain, a lot of the trails were wet if not downright submerged (at times it seemed like we were walking in streams). the scariest part was walking on wet surfaces that seemed solid but we'd sink down like quicksand as soon as we stepped on them.
my biggest fear were the mosquitoes - all this recent rain creates the perfect mosquito breeding grounds. however, since it only stopped raining just yesterday, the forest was still surprisingly bug free (i'd hate to be there in another week, when all the larvae hatch). unfortunately we're still a bit early for the rhododendrons, about a few more weeks (although a few were already blooming).
we stopped at one point to have lunch perched on top of a large glacier erratic, surrounded by the sounds of woodpeckers tapping into dead trees. i had a bagel already for breakfast, so i wasn't hungry and just brought some trail mix and a can of root beer. bruce ate a sandwich and pulled out a large bag of gourmet potato chips from his backpack.
we made it as far as turkey hill (west) before backtracking and returning to where we parked the car (east). we made a detour to the holly grove, an eerie spot in the woods devoid of life - other than the hollies and some hungry mosquitoes.
note: if you have a good eye, you'll see that there's a smudge mark in a few of the photos. apparently there was something (smooshed bug?) on the short lens and i didn't see it until after i got back home. live and learn!
some wildflowers have started to come out, but the annual spring profusion is still a few weeks away; this season's bloom appears to be delayed due to the drought but after last week's deluge, hopefully the flowers will come out soon. i found some sessile bellworts, a flower i'd never seen before until today.
unlike the flowers, the birds weren't wasting any time in reproducing; the forest was a chorus of bird songs. as part of my philosophy of "keeping it real," i had no idea what kind of birds were singing (besides, even if we could hear them, they were still hard or next to impossible to see). highlight: seeing an american redstart. apparently they're pretty common (from my online research) even though this was my first time seeing one. for me, they resemble pygmy orioles. the one we saw was singly loudly, darting between the undergrowth. if you look carefully at the photo below, you'll see some rictal bristles around the beak - these small birds are flycatchers, and use their "whiskers" for an extended reach. speaking of orioles, we spotted a lot of them as well.
scary moment of the day came when we were leaving the woods and saw a large black racer snake slithering off the path and into the forest. i've never seen a snake so large in these new england woods, approximately 3 feet (although they can grow even longer). i was momentarily stunned and didn't think to take a photo until it'd already disappeared.
we got back in town around 4:30pm. client B had called me earlier to make a simple fix to the interactive i did for them a few months ago. after i have some dinner (probaby ramen again), i'm going to go into my room and do work for client P. it's going to be another long night.