Friday, May 6, 2011

Back With My Paddle Again

My first day back on the water this year -- and what a gorgeous day it was! Just look at that bright blue sky and smooth-as-satin water. Heaven!

The Hudson was still way too raging to risk paddling there, but my friend Sue took me to one of her favorite sites, a quiet fen we could access from the Warren County Bikepath near Glen Lake. Unlike a true bog, which is watered only by rain, a fen has fresh water running through it but yet has the acidic conditions required by bog-loving plants, such as these Pitcher Plants.

Pitcher Plants are known for drowning insects inside their tubular structures, but today the pitchers themselves were nearly drowned by the super-high waterlevel in the fen.

Another plant typical of bogs and fens is Bog Rosemary, which we found today dangling these clusters of deep-pink buds. When opened, the little bell-shaped flowers will be a much paler pink.

Sweet Gale was thriving everywhere, with most of the shrubs covered with cinnamon-brown staminate catkins.

We had to search, but here and there we found a few Sweet Gale shrubs with bright red pistillate flowers. These shrubs can switch their sex from year to year, and sometimes they will bear flowers of both sexes on the same plant.

In a few weeks, paddling around the fen will be made difficult by masses of Water Lilies, which were just beginning to sprout. Although these leaves were still under water, we could sure see them coming, because of their brilliant color.

Speaking of color, this Red-winged Blackbird was showing all of his, flashing his shoulder patches as he challenged another male who had entered his nesting territory. We also saw the much duller females today, who will be nesting low down among the cattails.

And speaking of nesting, Mother Goose was crouching low on hers, hoping I wouldn't see her.

On my way home from the fen I swung by the Hudson at Spier Falls Road to check on the water levels. The boat launching sites above and below the dam were still closed, to discourage boaters from risking their lives (or losing their trailers!) in this cold, fast-flowing water.

I could see that the islands were now partially above water, but I imagine it will take quite some time for the flowers and shrubs to recover from the flooding. Ordinarily, the islands would now be abloom with vivid pink Early Azaleas and carpeted with dainty little Bluets. At present, it just looks like brown mud out there.

In the woods near the boat launch, however, many different plants were beautifully in bloom, including this Hobblebush, with its snowy-white sterile flowers circling the greenish fertile blossoms in the center, which were just beginning to open.

In many places along Spier Falls Road, what used to be little rills and seeps that quietly made their way down the mountains, today were rushing waterfalls noisily leaping and splashing from boulder to boulder.

I couldn't resist posting just one more photo of the charming moss gardens thriving among the boulders this extra-wet spring.


Anonymous said...

Just lovely! I feel relaxed just reading ...

Adirondackcountrygal said...

Very nice. I enjoy learning what different things are called. I probably won't remember but it is still nice!

Kim said...

I'm looking forward to mothers first paddle this year. I will go to a small lake in the south western ADKs. There is a bog there with all the plants you just named.

Rob said...

There is nothing as nice as the first few outings of Spring in the wilderness. Everything coming to live and the promise of the season to come. Great pics !!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Dear friends: Thanks for coming along with me on my first paddle of the year -- and then taking the time to leave your kind comments. I wish you all equally happy adventures.

catharus said...

Looks fantastic, and thanks again for letting us come along!
I immediately caught your distinction between a bog and a fen -- thanks(!), 'cause I've been asking myself questions just like this recently. So let me throw another one in there: how do you define a vly (vs bog or fen)?
I'd love to learn anything you can share!
Best Regards!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Hi catharus, good question. Vly is a word I don't use because I'm not sure what it means, other than a Dutch word for a wet area, perhaps one that's only seasonally wet.