We are up to 6 active nests, 2 Hooded Merganser and 4 Wood Duck (with the odd extraspecies egg in some of the boxes). The new predator guards look really good — thanks! [As you can see, attaching the guards to our poles requires a little in-the-field engineering.]
The two new boxes in the new pool near the tower don’t have predator cones yet. Are there any more available? Also, box #3, although it has 3 eggs in it, also has a wonky door that doesn’t close very tightly. It might be possible to tighten up/relocate the hardware so that the door is a snugger fit.
First work day of the season maintaining and checking nest boxes! We already have nests started in two, maybe three boxes (I suspect one of the nests is from last year, abandoned), and this is all before we fluffed up the boxes with fresh chips inside. We also have an open to-do item to install predator guards on the poles. We introduced new recruit Kathy to the dubious pleasures of squoodging through the soft mud of the wetland. And we got a little training in the new protocol for cleaning our gear, in hopes of controlling the spread of ranavirus.
Our resident beavers have rebuilt the lodge that wants to overtake the bench at the start of the boardwalk. And, at that same spot, they have built a new dam off to the left of the boardwalk.
We heard female Wood Ducks hoo-eeking numerous times; lots of Mallards hanging out, too.
Down by box #13, on the dry land before the observation tower, I found something that’s fairly common but I’d never noticed it before, probably because I wasn’t looking for it: the hunkered-down, overwintering, two-colored leaves of Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor).
…no one really knows a bird until he has seen it in flight. Since my year upon the dunes, spent in a world of magnificent fliers, I have been tempted to believe that the relation of the living bird with its wings folded to the living bird in flight is almost that of the living bird to the same bird stuffed. In certain cases, the difference between the bird on the wing and the bird at rest is so great that one might be watching two different creatures. Not only do colours and new arrangements of colours appear in flight, there is also a revelation of personality.
“It’s certainly the end of an era, no question,” [spokesman Dan] Stessel said. “They have a distinctive character to them that is unique to Metro. Even that high-pitched squeal they make when they’re braking — that’s unique to the 1Ks.” (Here, Stessel emitted a high-pitched squeal, then chuckled.) “That sound you hear as the train pulls into the station and is slowing down, that squeak: No other cars make that sound.”
Oh, dear. How did this escape my notice? For many speakers, a button-down shirt now does not refer specifically to a shirt with a buttons securing the collar, but rather to any shirt with buttons down the placket.
Rajiv Joseph fancies two guards assigned duty at the soon-to-be-unveiled Taj Mahal in 1648: the dour, straight arrow Humayun (Ethan Hova) and the free-spirited, bumbling, imaginative Babur (the fearless Kenneth De Abrew). They’re called upon to execute a quite bloody task, and their temporary paralysis in reaction to this horror turns out to be quite funny: complementary disabilities that suggest Beckett’s similarly doomed Hamm and Clov. Sound designer Palmer Hefferan conjures an ominous sonic landscape in the pre-dawn hours while the two clowns await their fate.
Gaurds at the Taj, by Rajiv Joseph, directed by John Vreeke, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington
Gaylan Meyer led a two-hour workshop in introductory identification of mosses in Fred Crabtree Park, just south of Reston on Fox Mill Road. Fred Crabtree Park (renamed from Fox Mill Park since the last time I visited) is a pleasant patch, protecting part of the Little Difficult Run watershed. Gaylan has identified at least ten, maybe 12 moss species in the park.
We keyed out one species, using the recent McKnight et al., Common Mosses of the Northeast and Appalachians (2013). The first swell surprise about moss ID is that there’s not a lot you can do in the field with mosses. You can classify plants into growth form, acrocarp or pleurocarp, and if you’ve got tweezers and a hand lens you might be able to look at leaf shape and the presence of a midrib. Gaylan identifies this as Yellow Yarn Moss (Anomodon rostratus). For the remaining mosses we looked at on the trip, we relied on Gaylan’s scouting of this location and his patient work at home with his microscope.
Oil Spill Moss (Platygyrium repens), at left, and Feather Comb Moss (Ctenidium molluscum), at right, are pleurocarps, frequently branching and usually trailing along the substrate.
The more conspicuous mosses are acrocarps, with upright stems packed together like tufts of carpet. At left is Wavy Starburst Moss (Atrichum altecristatum) and at right is Pincushion Moss (Leucobryum glaucum). For the starbust moss, the sporangia, ending in the brown tubular capsules (empty, with lid off), are fairly well imaged.
Gaylan’s call on this plant is Polytrichum commune, but after checking the Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora, I think that Juniper Haircap Moss (P. juniperium) is much more likely. By the way, the otherwise invaluable USDA PLANTS database is pretty hopeless for range maps for mid-Atlantic bryophytes.
We also looked at a few plants that are not mosses. Here’s a lovely patch of Shining Clubmoss (Huperzia lucidula), a/k/a Shining Firmoss. The clubmosses, firmosses, running cedars, and such are in a bit of a classification jumble. But they are nevertheless vascular plants that only happen to resemble true mosses.
And a fern-savvy member of the group ID’d this as Spinulose Woodfern (Dryopteris carthusiana). I didn’t get an image of the entire frond, but at least this time I remembered to look at the sori.
David Crystal and Ben Crystal talk to Michael Rosen and Laura Wright of BBC Four’s Word of Mouth about Shakespearean Original Pronunciation (OP), with generous audio demonstrations. David Crystal has a reference book, to be released this summer, The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation.