Life in a cabin on a mountain in southern Pennsylvania
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
A moss walk
First off, I can report that Baby Dog has no interest in mosses. So she couldn’t figure out why I kept stopping on “her” walk to look at them. I, however, think mosses are very neat things, even more so in winter when they aren’t competing with equally neat flowers and birds and bugs and such.
The first photo is of cushion moss. It’s growing off the edge of a bank and reminds me of a water fall. My moss identification skills are pretty poor, partly because there are a lot of different mosses that are very similar, but mostly because good moss identification guides are tough to come by. And moss species are quite variable even in small areas, unlike birds where a guide to the eastern U.S. covers everything you will see in that region. For a moss guide to be really accurate, you’d probably have to have several for the average state, either that or a really big book.
The next photo is of feather moss, I think. This is one of the identifications I’m not sure of. My photo looks close to that, anyway, so that’s what I’m calling it until someone else tells me something different.
The last photo shows the moss spores. Now here’s where I think the mild winter is showing up in the landscape. Moss spores typically arrive in late March or April. Here we are a few days before the end of February and those spores are out there and ready to go. I think this may be the first actual sign of spring and its early arrival that I’ve found.
Spring arrives in the small things first, though I am usually too busy looking for the big things to notice them. I’m looking for birds and wildflowers, but I guess I should be looking more at moss to tell me when spring is arriving.
I live in a cabin in the forests of Pennsylvania. I write about what I see and do in the natural world around me. I've been a hawkwatcher for more than 20 years, a birder for longer than that, and a crayfish-catcher since I was a polywog.