Thursday, July 16, 2009
My Lucky Day
Despite the threat of rain, the river was lovely today.
Although the sky was looking threatening (some blue areas but even more roiling grey clouds), I decided to risk a downpour out on the river. And I'm mighty glad I did. In the first place, it never did rain, and even more important, I found the orchid I've been seeking for several years. Ever since some dunderhead mowed down a whole island of them four years ago and they never grew back. And today it was sheer unlikely luck that I saw a Smaller Purple Fringed Orchis (Habenaria psycodes). It was only in bud, not bloom, and hidden among Deer Tongue grass, whose leaves appear somewhat similar, from a distance. I don't know what impulse guided my eyes to its hiding place, but now that I know where to find it, I'll certainly be back. I can't wait to show you how beautiful it is when in full bloom.
Lots of other beautiful flowers were blooming today. The woodsy banks were aglow with masses of Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata).
The sunny rocks and muddy banks are carpeted now with Golden Hedge Hyssop (Gratiola aurea), with many other flowering plants crowding in. How many species can you count on this one rock?
Here's a close-up of Golden Hedge Hyssop's pretty little yellow trumpets.
While kneeling down on the rock to shoot these flowers, I came face-to-face with this enormous Striped Fishing Spider. I first assumed this was a female, since it was about three inches across, and females tend to be bigger than males. But then I noticed those little blue "boxing gloves." These are "palps," which in female spiders just look like miniature legs. But males' palps have swollen tips that serve as semen receptacles for mating. So I guess this must be a guy, and he looks like he's rarin' to go. Yikes! but those things look kind of prickly! (The photo's not quite in focus, because I jumped a little when he moved toward me. Wonder why.)
Paddling around Rippled Rocks Point, I entered a quiet marshy area, where stately Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) lifted its purple spires to the sky.
On the rocky shore, spires of rosy-pink Steeplebush (Spirea tomentosa) waved in the breeze, set off quite prettily by dark green shrubs of Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), the cream-colored ball-shaped flower clusters just now bursting into bloom.
This beautiful spotted frog (I assume it's a Pickerel Frog) obliged me by jumping away from its well-camouflaged hiding place and landing on bare rock. The better to take your picture, Mr. (or Mrs.) Frog. Thanks for a perfect end to a happy paddle on the river.