It was a beautiful day on the Blue Trail yesterday. I counted 5 herons in the rookery on my way down to the water, one of whom was happy to do a graceful swoop over the reservoir so I could watch. The sun was out and I found a few turtles sunning themselves on logs and two Canada geese floating past them. One of the things to look for this time of year are the Alders along the water line. Smooth Alder is a native shrub that grows happily in wet places. They are able to fix nitrogen and can thrive in soils that would not be hospitable to other trees, creating a more hospitable growing site for future trees. Alders are monoecious, meaning that they have both male and female flowers on the same plant. The drooping stalks in this picture are the male catkins and have been on the tree from last fall through the winter. They will soon release their pollen. You can also often still find dried conelike structures near the catkins. These are the results of last year's female flowers.