Sunday, July 10, 2011
Woods Walking, Bog Hopping
Saturday dawned clear and sunny, with no forecast for afternoon thunderstorms. What a treat: a whole day to spend outdoors, and with my good friend Sue, at that. Sue wanted to show me Cole's Woods in Glens Falls, a beautiful wooded area in the heart of the city, nestled between a major highway and a shopping mall that could have been a hundred miles away when we were following the shady trails along a pretty brook. During the winter, these trails are busy with whizzing cross-country skiers, but on a warm summer day, we had the whole woods to ourselves.
Multitudes of mushrooms of every shape and color were scattered across the forest floor.
These Velvet Earth Tongues, wee little things about an inch tall and black as coal, had found a home on an old rotting tree stump.
We emerged from the dark damp woods onto a high dry sandy area under the sky, where a large number of Dwarf Dandlions lifted their tiny yellow blossoms to the sun.
We'd come looking for Blunt-leaved Milkweed in that sunny area, and we did find some, mostly with flowers long spent. But we were totally surprised to find this Poke MIlkweed, still in bloom, with its distinctive molar-sized pale blossoms dangling down on drooping long stalks.
Dragonflies and damselflies were flitting everywhere, but only a couple stopped zooming long enough to get their picture taken. I believe this is a female Widow Skimmer, with the sunlight glinting off her lacy wings.
No photograph can ever do justice to the iridescent blue-green of the Ebony Jewelwing damselfly. Even when they do sit still long enough to get a good shot.
Whoa! I kept wondering what this odd-shaped insect was, as I saw it flying about here and there. Then it landed on this leaf so I could get a good gander at it. I'd seen Robber Flies before, but never one flying around with its prey tightly clutched between its legs. The fly is undoubtably sucking the juices out of that moth.
After a fun morning walking the woods, we next headed north to a bog near Lake George, eager to see if those white orchids I saw in bud last week might be blooming by now. It sure was a beautiful day to be wandering the bog, with a bright sun lighting up the reddened leaves of Highbush Blueberry bushes.
Sue was hoping to get some photos of the Calopogon orchids that were in full bloom last week.
Lucky for us, they were still blooming beautifully. Is this not one photogenic flower?
As we approached the area where I'd found the white orchids in bud last week, this spike of dazzling white announced its presence against its green background.
And there they were: sprouting up like dandelions, one of our showiest native orchids, the White Fringed Orchis, in full glorious bloom. We had to watch where we put our feet, they were so numerous.
Here's a closer look at one of those befringed florets.
Also newly in bloom was Cottongrass, and lots of it, poking fuzzy heads high above the bog mat.
With a hot sun burning our backs, we were glad to have the cold bog water oozing up around our feet, and also grateful to have whole handfuls of sweet juicy blueberries fall into our palms at a touch.
The dark red of this sphagnum moss shows off the yellow-green of a baby Tamarack beautifully.
After gazing in rapt delight at those spectacular orchids in the bog, why would I stop to pay the least attention to this ordinary old Smooth Sumac that was blooming near where we had parked our car? Well, because it was beautiful, too. That's why. And it also smelled delicious. I never realized that sumac flowers were fragrant.