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The Dying Trees

If you run a WordPress blog such as this, you can access a statistics page which will provide you with all sorts of interesting information, such as how people got to your site.  I’m occasionally surprised and given to some self doubt.  One of my more popular posts was “Things to do on a rainy day” in which I presented a variety of ways of photographing wood on the side of an old bar(n) in Vermont.  I have a feeling that my title threw off a bunch of parents who, desperate, tried to google their way through a rainy day and probably found instructions for photographing wood to be less than helpful.

Sometimes though, you see something quite powerful.  Recently one of the Google searches that led someone to this blog was titled “Why are the trees dying at Quabbin Reservoir?”  That got my attention.  In fact, the situation isn’t quite that dire.  They are not all dying, thankfully, but the Red Pines are, due to Pine Needle Scale.  Pine Needle Scale is an invasive species, joining us from Pennsylvania and parts south, that is nearly always fatal to a Red Pine.  Increasingly, you can see its impact at the Quabbin forest.  (Click on the images for a better view.)

This was taken at Gate 52, inside Quabbin Park.  If you look carefully, you’ll notice a small deer feasting off the vegetation on this small island which lies just off Little Quabbin Island.  (This is what the folks at National Geographic call a “scale element.” It’s a tool to help the viewer get a sense of size.)  Here’s another view, this time of Little Quabbin Island itself.

What you see are small clumps of dying trees amidst otherwise healthy hardwoods. Each individual clump by itself doesn’t look so alarming. The real impact though, probably the impact that drove the sad Google search is experienced through a view of the big picture.  Here’s a small version of a very large panorama.

The real panorama, full size, is posted at Gigapan here.  Have a look.  We live in an amazingly small world, from an environmental perspective.  Some of you may have followed the story of the Mountain Lion that was unfortunately killed by a car in Connecticut.  In the Boston Globe this morning, it was reported, in “New England in Brief,” that the Mountain Lion was actually from the Black Hills of South Dakota, by way of Minnesota and Wisconsin.  It was tracked by authorities using DNA samples, presumably from its scat.  This was not a captive animal escaped.  This Mountain Lion made the journey in the wild.  It is one of the longest journeys ever recorded by a land mammal.

While taking this panorama, we were joined by one of the most beautiful birds we’ve ever seen in the wild, a Scarlet Tanager.

Of course I had the wrong lens on at the time, one of my strengths when it comes to wildlife, but you get the idea.  This little guy and his buddies will be leaving soon, for their winter home in Central America.  It is a small world indeed.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sandra #

    The Scarlet Tanager is beautiful, and surprisingly scarce. We saw one recently too, and it dazzled us. The dead and dying red pines are dazzling in their starkness. Thanks.

    July 27, 2011
  2. Hi James.

    While I’m not happy about the patches/swaths of dying/dead red pines, they do add a bit of interest to the forest landscape at the Quabbin. They are really decimated at the cove by the spillway. I used to hike through those pines to the beaver pond, but they aren’t that inviting any more.

    July 27, 2011
  3. jameshuntphotography #

    Thanks! They are quite stark indeed. And the situation at the Spillway Steve is really quite substantial. It is interesting to note though the hardwoods that will have better access to the sunlight when those trees come down. I suspect one really nasty storm and they will indeed fall. One of my takeaways in this is the danger of having too many of the same species in such close quarters. But nature does have a way of taking care of these things in time.

    August 2, 2011

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  1. The Dying Trees – II (And it won’t be the last) | James Hunt Photography's Blog

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