Clarks Nutcracker

A regular and constant companion on forest hikes is the Clarks’s Nutcracker. This day instead of foraging for pine nuts this nutcracker was busy feasting on crickets on a late fall afternoon. We watched as she swooped down from a tree landed in a field and quickly picked up a cricket. We were quite surprised as it had been quite cold and well below freezing yet there were insects to be found.

Clark’s are fascinating birds that each year bury tens of thousands of pine nuts. They remember the location of a large majority of the seeds which they consume during the winter. The seeds they forget then may become new trees and thus the Clarks it integral to the growth of new forests.

Orobanche uniflora

Broomrape_1

I can’t say it better than it is stated in this NY Times article “There’s simply no way to talk about the beauty of Orobanche uniflora without raising a lot of eyebrows.”

Commonly called Naked Broomrape or sometimes Flowered Cancer Root this wonderful flower with unflattering common names was a new one to us when we came across it in meadow on a recent hike.

Broomrape_2

It is a short leafless plant unable to photosynthsize thus gaining it’s nutrients by parasitism. Often using sedum, saxifrages and asters as a host plant. Typically growing only up to 3 inches tall we found this cluster buried deep in the grass.

Broomrape_3

It is a beautiful little flower and very unique to say the least.

Broomrape_4