|The Mystery Bark|
So although we've been doing nature study for a few years, it was good to go back to basics and just let Mei lead the way in finding something of interest to her. She doesn't get all hot and sweaty over nature study, I have to confess (unlike me). So allowing her to call the nature study shots was a sneaky way to get her attention.
As the Challenge stated, she could find anything she wanted.. She could have chosen some exciting stuff like the pileated woodpecker that I can imitate pretty well much to her amusement, or the bittersweet that was festooning the late-autumn trees. Nope, she chose bark.
This bark was from a downed tree along the private road we frequent. It runs through a mixed hardwood forest divided by a couple of streams--tributaries to the Patapsco River which in turn flows into the Chesapeake Bay. It's a nice little piece of outdoors that provides many of our nature study opportunities. And a good dog walk.
As I said, the tree was down and quite deteriorating. At first all we noticed was a trunk, smooth and lying a distance from its source. The short remains of branches stuck straight out in regular intervals. It was a few minutes before we discovered the stump that had once supported the tree. It surprised us to see that it was covered with bark, unlike the smooth surface we had seen on the fallen trunk. We helped ourselves to a sample and headed back, looking all over for a match to identify the tree.
|White Pine: gray-green,|
sure which. There were trees that were clearly white pines. We knew enough about clusters of five long, soft needles to pinpoint that one (ID trick: "WHITE" has five letters, just like the tree has five needles) But the bark didn't match. Nor did the cones. We suspected red pine, but here was the rub. Whenever we found a tree with bark that resembled ours, the tree was DEAD! No needles! Only a rare cone. Ah ha! Now I had her interest as I gave her the responsibility of doing the research at home.
|Range Map for Red Pine|
yet, but just having one related to nature made this study all the more "appetizing!"
|Mei's observation page for Challenge #1|
"How to Identify Pine Trees"
"Pine Tree Identification