Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Long Day's Walk

Six miles in about six hours. Gosh, we sped right along today, Sue and I, as we walked the Warren County Bikeway from Glen Lake to Lake George. Last fall, when we did a slightly shorter walk along the same route, it took us seven hours. But back then we had a birding buddy along and spent many pauses listening to birdsong and craning to see what flitted about in the trees. We did a little of that today, but most of our stops were to photograph plants and bugs and puzzle over stuff we couldn't name. Here Sue stops to get a shot of Monkeyflower growing by the pretty little stream that accompanied us much of our way.

The day started out damp from last night's rain, so that all of the trailside plants were heavy with droplets. As the sun broke through from time to time, most of the plants dried off, but the droplets persisted on Spreading Dogbane leaves, so they looked as if they were spangled with tiny lights.

We were quite amazed to find a Dogbane Beetle resting on one of those leaves, since we don't expect to see this beautiful beetle until much later in the season. I love those antennae that look like strings of tiny Black Onyx beads.

We found other pretty bugs as well, such as this Candystriped Leafhopper.

And this brilliantly colored Milkweed Beetle, eating a milkweed leaf.

The air was filled with the scent of cloves from the many Common Milkweed flowers in bloom along the trail. The open flowers are pretty and fragrant, yes, but this cluster of still-closed buds has a velvety beauty all its own.

Roses, too, added their fragrance to the humid air. Most of their flowers tended toward the pale side of pink, but one I found exceptionally vivid.

Baby leaves contributed vivid color, too. Here's a cluster of baby Red Maple.

And an equally brilliant cluster of Red Oak leaves.

As we walked along, we found lots of berries to snack on. The Red Raspberries were deliciously ripe.

The Low Blueberries, too, provided an abundance of ripe fruit.

Here's another beautiful berry, but a poisonous one that nobody should ever eat. Its name should warn anyone off. It's called Red Baneberry.

We found a number of things that puzzled us. We may never know the name of the insect that caused Virgin's Bower to produce this bright orange gall. Or is the color caused by some kind of fungus growing on the surface of the gall and shedding its orange dusty stuff all over the leaves? We found lots of these strange-looking growths on many different plants of this native clematis vine.

We were also puzzled by this fern that grew among giant boulders along the shady trail. It looked so much more slender than similar ferns we were familiar with. When I picked up a frond to examine it more closely, tiny green nubbins fell into my hand. This photo shows them attached to the underside of the frond. Aha, I thought, little bulblets! I'll bet this is Bulblet Fern.

We had to haul the Newcomb's out to figure out which wild geranium this was, and we're still not sure. We're leaning toward Bicknell's Cranesbill because of the length of the flower stalk.
But what was most remarkable about this flower today were the beaked seedheads. This photo shows the beak split and curled up from the bottom, having hurled the contents of those seed packets far afield.

And here's what those seedheads looked like before they split and curled. You can see how they got the name cranesbill.

My macro lens has allowed me to see how hairy those little seed packets are. If I hadn't enlarged this photo on my computer screen, I never would have seen this kind of detail with my naked eyes. And if I had never met Sue, I probably never would have hiked all the way from Glen Lake to Lake George. What a great day with a great friend. Thanks for making it happen, Sue.


greentangle said...

Well, they're always good, but this seems like an especially good set of photos. Thanks for sharing. Now could you share some of those berries?

troutbirder said...

I love these walks and your attention to the beautiful little details of nature that so often are passed by. Thanks

Woodswoman Extraordinaire said...

The bug photos in particular are magnificent!

Wayne said...

Thanks for sharing another great trip. Your beautiful shot of milkweed reminds me of a little story from one of my professors at ESF, Ed KetchLedge was watching a slide show by an amateur botanist who though he would stump the audience with his ultra-close-up of just 2 or 3 tiny flowers in the bunch. Dr. K reckognized it right away and said "That's Asclepias" (Latin names are often easier for botanists than a string of common names). The showman immediately replied "No, it's milkweed." and went on with show, having -- in his mind -- stumped the professor!

suep said...

I would say that I am HONORED to walk with you, anywhere - except that in saying it that way, it contains no trace of the FUN it is, as well ! You are teaching me to look much closer at things, though I still hesitate to pull apart creepy galls etc.
Wayne, that's a great story about the slide show...

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks for all your kind comments, dear friends. I get such a kick out of knowing you like to come along on these nature adventures. I also got a kick out of your story, Wayne. Good one!

Bird said...

I just love your macro images. All the insects, and the milkweed flowerbuds too. Is the summer really getting along that fast?

I would love to have you as a walking companion. Everyone I know likes to march along as if they were in the army - I just want to look at things!

...oh, and I love Waynes story about the professor and the milkweed :)