Nature Notes

Male Yellowjacket, VespulaPhoto credit: Whitney McCann Things were a’stir on the second floor of AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor’s Center as wasps began emerging from a small hole in one staff office wall.  The arrival of this insect indoors coincides with the nightly frosts in the notch lately and with the cyclical nature of this colony-building…

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Peppery milk cap, Lactarius piperatusPhoto credit: Amber Featherstone Lawerence Millman, mycologist and author of Fascinating Fungi of New England, led a walk in Pinkham Notch the other week and refused to answer one question: which of these mushrooms is edible?  “If something were studying you, would you want that thing’s first question to be: can…

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View from Lion’s Head trailPhoto credit: Whitney McCann Most of the alpine flowers are gone now, and the Three-forked rush, Juncus trifidus, has turned to brown, but things are still happening in the alpine zone.  For an hour this rainbow could be seen spanning the eastern side of Mount Washington.  

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“As a matter of fact the insects are the only conspicuous creatures indubitably holding their own against man.  When he matches wits with any of the lower mammals they always lose.  But when he matches his wit against the instinct and vitality of the insects he merely holds his own, at best.  An individual insect…

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American mountain ash at 4000 feetPhoto credit: Whitney McCann Before fall one can find plenty of primary color in the berrying plants and shrubs of the hardwood forest and alpine zone.  Pictured here are fruits and berries found on Wildcat Mountain’s namesake trail during the 80th anniversary hike.  The deciduous American Mountain Ash, Sorbus americana,…

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Garden orb web spider at the Highland CenterPhoto credit: Whitney McCann The Garden Orb Web spider, Eriophora transmarina 85% of spiders spin silk webs Spiders spin sheet, funnel, cob, and orb webs It takes about one hour for a spider to spin an orb web From a perch, the orb web spider casts a dry…

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Spittlebug and its frothPhoto credit: Katie Burkley The common names for spittlebugs and froghoppers (family: Cercopidae) are derived from their different stages of life. When the bug is in the nymph stage it is called a spittlebug because it sucks the sap of a plant to create the froth or “spit” that we see. This froth…

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Summer solstice at Lakes of the CloudsPhoto credit: Whitney McCann “But meanwhile, what of the basic meaning of clouds—what is their role in the life of the earth?  For us, as living creatures, they are one of the reasons we are men instead of fishes.  As land creatures, we must have water.  Without clouds, all…

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Icicles on the MOBS deckPhoto credit: Whitney McCann The “big three” are still in bloom in the Alpine Garden and at Monroe Flats near Lakes of the Clouds.  Amidst the granite debris one will see white Diapensia, Diapensia lapponica, pink Alpine azalea, Loiseleuria procumbens, purple Lapland rosebay, Rhododendron lapponicum, and a touch of yellow as the Mountain avens, Geum…

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It’s that time of year when the Land Above the Trees starts putting on it’s annual show.  The “big three” were spotted in bloom on May 31 in the Cow Pasture along the Auto Road and by Lakes of the Clouds Hut. Get up there and enjoy the show! Alpine Azalea (Loiseleuria procumbens)  Photo by…

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