Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Another Day, Another Adventure -- or Two! Or Three!

Another day full of fun on the bogs and ponds! I believe I have had more nature adventures in the past two weeks than most folks have in a lifetime. And today was certainly one of those days to remember for a lifetime. Here's my friend Evelyn leading me to one of her secret boggy spots to show me an incredible treasure: dozens of Showy Lady's Slippers in glorious full bloom.

It was certainly worth the two-hour drive up into the southwestern Adirondacks to lay my eyes on these beauties, a native orchid that is growing ever more rare.

Walking around this fen, it was hard to believe this plant is considered rare, since everywhere we looked we found more and more, including these unusual twin blooms.

There were other orchids, too, that had found a hospitable home in this rich fen, which is defined as a wetland that may be acidic close to the surface, but which provides nutrients to the plants that grow there from a calcium-rich substrate such as marble or limestone. That's exactly the kind of habitat that suits this White Bog Orchis.

This green one, too. We haven't quite decided which green orchid this is. Our best guess is Northern Green Orchis (Platanthera aquilonis).

Alpine Bulrush, with its waving long white hair, carpeted the damp sunny spots in the fen.

The pistils of Water Avens continue to grow, even after the flower has started to form seed, which gives this plant a wild and crazy appearance this time of year.

Who would guess that these beautiful structures are the seed receptacles of Marsh Marigold?

These look like tiny roses, don't they? They're the tender baby cones of Tamarack.

The day was still young, so we decided to paddle around nearby Sand Lake, which required that we carry our boats a half mile through some very muddy woods to come out onto this pristine body of water, which we had all to ourselves on this splendid blue-sky day.

Evelyn wants to call this Floating Heart Lake, since we found lots of these pretty little heart-shaped leaves floating on the quiet water where we put in. Later they will have small white flowers. It might be worth braving that muddy trail again to see these flowers in bloom.

Today, the most abundant flower blooming around the lake was Sheep Laurel, and it put on quite a show.

We paddled completely around the lake, pulling into this inlet to see how far up it we could go. Not far, it turned out, for this open channel soon narrowed to a rocky stream too shallow to paddle on.

Among the masses of Pickerel Weed, we found these mini-bog clumps, with beautiful dark-red Pitcher Plants towering over carpets of sphagnum and cranberry, punctuated with the dark pink leaves of Marsh St. Johnswort and the tender green bud-topped shoots of what will be Rose Pogonia.

It was another animal-rescue day. Twice, we found dragonflies of this species fluttering on the water until we fished them out and let them perch on our fingers until they dried. But they never did take flight. I wonder if their life cycle is complete and they are dying?

This angry snapper may well have died if I hadn't removed it from the middle of the road. This is the second snapper we helped across the road today.

I was surprised by how each turtle turned to confront me when I tried to nudge it across. For this turtle I used a snow scraper I found in my trunk to push it across. It did not appreciate that one bit, living up to its "snapper" name, but it did finally turn and proceed down the bank to a waterway, out of harm's way for the moment.

I then proceeded on my way, damp and muddy and scratched and bug-bitten and tired, but also deliriously happy to have spent such a day exploring such marvelous places.


Andrew Lane Gibson said...

Love the orchid shots! The Showy Lady's are in heavy bud up here on the Bruce. I agree the green orchid is Platanthera aquilonis, or also know as P. hyperborea. That as well as your P. dilatata are both on my list of orchids I hope to see while up here!

Ian said...

Again a stunning display of nature photography, love the orchids and seeing plants in their natural environment that are grown as exotics here.

catharus said...

Lovely excursion and photos -- especially the showy lady's slipper!

Carolyn H said...

Oh, how I envy you your bogs. None of those around down here in southern PA. Or at least, none of them are anything as wonderful as those further north. Thanks for taking me along on your journey.

Louise said...

Now, that's a day full of adventure! The beauty of the world that you inhabit is so wonderful. New and lovely sights are around every corner. The orchids are lovely, but, I like the snapper picture the best That guy's got character -- good or bad, I don't know, but -- character.

Bill said...

Jackie, A really fine set of photos. I have been to Sand Lake 40years ago but I've never seen a showy lady's slipper. Bill Miller

Wayne said...

Wow, what an amazing day, after so many others this year! I bet the effort that you put into this adventure made it all the better.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

A.L., thanks for weighing in on the green orchid ID. Some very knowledgeable folks are pondering this, considering that this specimen was at least a foot taller than P. aquilonis is supposed to grow. Maybe this was a VERY rich fen, producing super-orchids. Hope your Bruce peninsula adventures are all that you could have hoped for.

Thanks for stopping by, Ian. And I'm sure we grow many of Australia's native plants as exotics in OUR gardens.

catharus, you would have been amazed to see those lady's slippers in all their glorious profusion. I stopped counting after a couple dozen.

Hi Carolyn. I bet you have some amazing bogs down there, too. I just happen to be very lucky to have found friends willing to share their secret spots with me. I never would have found them on my own.

So good to hear from you, Louise! Glad you liked the snapper. She didn't like ME very much, not realizing I was only trying to help her. I'm assuming it was a she, returning to her wetland after laying her eggs in a sandy bank across the road.

Bill, I know your dad could show you where those Showy Lady's Slippers grow. Not far from Sand Lake. Thanks for your nice comment.

Yes, Wayne, an amazing day, indeed! And as you imply, the difficulties only add a little frisson to the adventure. Especially in the retelling. I did have a moment's pause, though, when my feet were stuck so far down in the mud I thought I would never be able to retrieve my shoes.

Anonymous said...

Love it! Love it! Love it! The orchids are amazing! Sad to think that many species are disappearing - just for the richness and variety they grant us - so much more nourishing than steel and concrete! In my not so very humble opinion ;-)

The turtle looks ferocious! The one we came across a couple of years ago bit into the middle of the stick we tried to nudge him with, so we carried him out the middle of the road. Them's mighty strong jaws!

Ellen Rathbone said...

IS this the same spot we went to last year to see the lady's slippers? It looks a whole lot sunnier than I remember! All in all, it looks like you had a perfect day!