Seeing the Sourlands Essays by Jim Amon

Crabapples (September 2020)

Crabapples (September 2020)

Crabapple in bloom I grew up in rural Ohio at a time when the legend of Johnny Appleseed was widely known. My recollection is a little fuzzy about the details of this legend but the image I have retained is of an eccentric-looking man walking the countryside while...

Summer Meadow Flowers (August 2020)

Summer Meadow Flowers (August 2020)

August 2020: Summer Meadow Flowers Bloodroot, toothwort, spring beauties and the other spring ephemerals brighten the forest floor after a long winter of brown and black. I love those flowers as much as anyone but I also love the brighter, showier, more colorful...

Nature in the Time of COVID 19 (July 2020)

Nature in the Time of COVID 19 (July 2020)

July 2020: Nature in the time of COVID-19   As I walked in the Sourlands during the pandemic I tried to make photographs that reflected the times. The ones that succeeded best for me are soft and a bit fuzzy. Several years ago scientists interested in human...

Bird Reproduction (June 2020)

Bird Reproduction (June 2020)

June 2020: Bird Reproduction Snow geese have increased in population by 300% since the 1970’s. For a dozen or more years the females lay 3-5 eggs. I was frying eggs for my breakfast one morning recently when it occurred to me that it was a pretty neat trick for birds...

Plant Reproduction (May 2020)

Plant Reproduction (May 2020)

May 2020: Plant Reproduction Pinkster flower azalea is native but scarce in the Sourlands. The exceptional length of its stamens and pistils makes it unlikely that most small insects—like bees—can pollinate this species. Large-winged butterflies, like tiger...

Memorial to ash (April 2020)

Memorial to ash (April 2020)

Memorial to ash The death of fifteen percent of the trees in New Jersey forest means that fallen dead trees like this will become a more common sight. Until the maples, oaks, hickories, and others can fill the gaps there will be more openings in the canopy, often...

Camouflage (April 2020)

Camouflage (April 2020)

April 2020: Camouflage All animals can’t rely upon fang or claw to defend themselves. Some have developed unexpected defenses, like vultures who will projectile vomit at a predator, or fish that travel in large numbers so that any one fish is likely to escape, or...

Clouds (April 2020)

Clouds (April 2020)

April 2020: Clouds Above is the dark underside of a cumulonimbus cloud over the Bay of Alaska, with some wispy stratus clouds in the hills. “Looks like to fog to me,” you might say. Yes, fog is stratus clouds that touch the earth. I recently joined the Cloud...

Owls (March 2020)

March 2020: Owls   A great horned owl’s horns are actually tufts of feathers. Great horned owls are native to North and South America and live in all types of habitats except the desert and the arctic. They are fierce hunters and, while their diet is mostly mice and...

A Winter Walk (February 2020)

A Winter Walk (February 2020)

February 2020: A Winter Walk The boulders along this stream corridor are softened by the moss covering them. If you squint and let your imagination go, they look like a large family of animals—big papas, little babies, and medium-sized mammas—hunkered down for the...

Musclewood (January 2020)

Musclewood (January 2020)

Musclewood got its common name because its trunk and branches look like well-muscled legs or arms. This past December started with a string of gray, rainy days and I spent much of the time staying inside and reading.  But it is always difficult for me to stay indoors...