It was such a nice day yesterday that the wife dragged the younger son and I from our various electronic fantasy-lands and out to a stretch of serpentine barrens not far from the house. It’s very similar, in some ways, to the more famous Pine Barrens of New Jersey, but without the dwarf pine fields and vast extent. Like the Pine Barrens, it has stretches of scrubby pine and oak woods, but unlike the pinelands, our barrens has expanses of open, prairie-like grassland. The Pine Barrens is built on sand, but our barrens is built on a bed of serpentine rock. This makes sure that the soil is thin and metal-rich, but nutrient-poor, and consequently unable to support the normal community of plants. There are some very nifty wildflowers there, and the area is quite different from the “standard” forested parks in the area. Typically, I forgot to bring the camera, so I’m unable to append any photos of the cool flowers we saw, but the birds included Bluebirds, Peewees, nuthatches, chickadees (“check!”), titmice and downys, TVs, Chippys, Goldfinches, and a big female Sharpshin who came booming around the old house trying to jump the bluebirds and sparrows and went zig-zagging off through the trees when she saw us resting there. There were also some very nifty mushrooms, which I have mostly forgotten the names of, but I believe that I recognized a Honey Mushroom, a nice blue Parrot (?) mushroom, and some nice, fully-expanded, snowy-white Amanitas of some sort. No unusual spiders (some huge funnel-webs, though) or any snakes at all (drat). Nice weather, though, and all in all a very pleasant afternoon.