Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Mud Pond Stopover

After paddling the Hudson this morning (see last post), I still had time to visit Mud Pond for a while this afternoon. The north shore of that pond lies quite close to the road, so it's easy to run right down to the water and see what's happening there. And there's always something. The shoreline is thick with wildflowers and reeds, the pond surface covered with floating plants, the water astir with frogs and turtles and whirligig beetles, and the air alive with dragon- and damselflies. I was happy to see pretty pink Water Smartweed just coming into bloom.

It's always frustrating to try to photograph dragon- or damselflies, since you just get them into focus and ZOT! they're off! And today the wind was whipping the grasses around, so even when they landed they didn't sit still. Luckily, my camera has something called Image Stabilizing, so I did manage to get some shots of a damselfly (?) I had never seen before. Actually, two of them, although I suspect they are the different sexes of the same species. First, this coppery colored one, with a handsomely striped midsection and an abdomen that looks like it's made of bamboo.

Here's a closer view of those marvelous copper eyes.

Now here's the other one, very similar in every way except color scheme. This one is striped black and white. If this is the opposite sex of the coppery one, does anyone know if this is the female or male? And is this not a damselfly, but a dragonfly? It sometimes held its wings open, and sometimes not.

The sand near the waterline was alive with tiny scurrying toads, so I had to be careful not to step on them. They mostly disappeared against the sand or into the water, but this one clung to a piece of grass so I could actually see it. This little guy could have fit on the nail of my pinky finger.

After walking the shoreline close to the water, I headed back up the hillside trail to explore the sandy paths under the power lines. The Hazelnut shrubs were laden with frilly nut clusters already, the Bear Oaks were laden with baby acorns, and I found enough ripe Wild Strawberries to gather a handful. And there among the strawberry leaves I found this odd little gall.

And right smack dab in the middle of the path was this Painted Turtle, probably looking for the right sandy spot to lay her eggs. At the sight of me, she retreated into her shell, and when I picked her up for a closer look, she released a large quantity of pee. I wonder if they pee on the sand to soften it for digging.

Look at her back. What an interesting design right in the middle of her shell. Do all Painted Turtles have the same elegant escutcheon marking? No, they don't. I looked at lots of images of these turtles on the web, and each one has a shell just a little bit different.

Spreading Dogbane was blooming now with its clusters of peppermint-candy-striped flowers on reddish stalks with beautiful blue-green leaves. My whole-plant photos were out of focus, but this close-up shot of a single blossom came out fine.

I ducked into the woods to get out of the sun for a while, and came upon this graceful Indian Cucumber Root with its new-formed fruits that still hold the spidery pistils (?) of its former flowers.

Nearby was a single plant of Bristly Sarsaparilla, with its flower clusters that look like exploding fireworks. Those sprouty little balls will later produce blue-black berries on purple pedicels.

And oh my, speaking of fireworks! Have you ever seen such a vivid, fire-colored lily? It's hard to believe that such a spectacular bloom could be a native wildflower, but it is. This is a Wood Lily, and I found a number of them growing right along the path.


Jane B said...

Gorgeous photos Mom! The surface tension surrounding the toad is amazing. And that Lily... WOW!!!

Ellen Rathbone said...

I believe your first damsel is one of the Spreadwings. Cool coppery color!

Love the wood lily!

chinnb said...

Great post! I especially loved the eyes of the damselfly.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks for your comments, Jane and Ellen and chinnb. I always feel a little jolt of joy when folks say they like what they see. I certainly got a jolt of joy when I saw that beautiful lily. Most wildflowers are kind of small and unprepossessing, but the Wood Lily -- WOW!!!