Sunday, July 30, 2017

July 30, 2017 - Berries: Red, Black, and Blue

One of the great things about New Englanders is that no matter what the weather - hot and humid, breezy and brisk, cold and rainy - people find a way to enjoy whatever mother nature doles out.
Sailing in the sunshine,

or fishing in the drizzle, people enjoy New Hampshire lakes

It's berry season in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire.  Blueberries are everyone's favorite and they have been prolific this year, resulting in some great sweet treats.

It's not too late to find some;  two of my favorite spots are along the shores of Lake Wicwas and up on the ridges of the Belknap Mountain Range. Belknap, Whiteface, Piper, even Lockes Hill all have blueberries that aren't hard to find.  Of course you can buy wild blueberries at some of the farm stands, but they always seem to taste better if they have grown in the cool waters of a lake or the crisp air high on a mountain top.
Summit of Piper Mountain in the Belknap Range

Following behind the blueberries by a couple of weeks, and also good to eat though they have seeds in them, are the huckleberries.  The Black Cherry I've been watching are just about ripe, and although edible, I've never found them palatable - they are bitter and have large pits - which is too bad because they are plentiful this year.
Not quite "black" cherries yet

This year's rain and hot weather has been good for the berry crop

Inedible but very pretty are the bright red fruit of the bunchberry.

These had white flowers back in early June around the lake.
Blossom on June 6th

I was hiking up at 4800' in the White Mountains last week and found that bunchberry are just now blooming at that elevation, six or seven weeks behind the lower elevations, indicating that the season lags by almost two weeks for every thousand feet of elevation gained.
Bunchberry blooming on July 21 at the 4833 foot summit of Carter Dome

And here are some black berries I found in a deeply shaded part of the forest; I don't know what they are.
An unidentified black berry
They remind me of something we called "deadly nightshade" when I was a kid, but looking that up, deadly nightshade, or belladonna, is clearly something different.  Does anyone have any help for me on this one?

Lastly, an update on the loon nest:  at three and a half weeks after nesting, everything appears to be going smoothly.  At last check, mom was on the nest - her bands were visible when she stood up to turn over the egg, so we know it was the female.

The male was out and about doing some fishing.

We also saw an osprey fly right over them, doing some fishing of its own.

Osprey eat almost exclusively fish, so our loons should be safe from the osprey.  But not from eagles - a bald eagle will certainly go after a loon chick. The chick should hatch within the next week, so lets hope for the best.
An osprey in search mode

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