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.