Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fish Creek at Victory: A New Place to Paddle

On my trip to the Ice Meadows Thursday, I not only made a new friend, I also found a new place to paddle and a new flower to add to my life list, thanks to her. That new friend is Elizabeth Collins, wildflower enthusiast and member of the Thursday Naturalists, and she told me about a flower called Water Stargrass that grows in a lovely stretch of Fish Creek near Victory. So armed with her directions on how to get there, I hurried over to Victory the very next day to put my boat in the creek just below the Mennen Road bridge and paddle upstream.

I've paddled other parts of the Fish Creek before, but I never knew about this lovely wooded stretch, with Silver Maples and Black Willows leaning over the water, and not a house or a farm to be seen for at least a half-hour's paddle. Catbirds mewed from the thickets, Phoebes and Kingbirds dashed out over the water, snagging insects, and a Great Blue Heron kept lifting its giant wings and disappearing around the next bend at my approach. The birds must know this creek is safe haven for them, designated as it is a Wildlife Management Area by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Swamp Milkweed and Joe Pye-weed outcompeted the alien Purple Loosestrife for blooming space along the wooded banks.

Mudflats were carpeted with masses of the tiny-blue-flowered False Pimpernel, a native wildflower that loves to grow in damp places.

Here's a closer look at one of those tiny blue blooms.

Here was the first sign of human habitation I found, this odd little hut that looks like a home for a gnome.

I might have landed my boat to investigate that hut, but this sign warned me to stay away.

OK, OK, Sgt. Trigger Finger, I'm leaving! Don't shoot! (I wonder if he shot the beaver who tried to down the tree this sign was posted on.)

The next evidence of human habitation was a cleared area belonging to the Fish Creek Rod and Gun Club, which was my signal to start looking for Water Stargrass, according to Elizabeth. And sure enough, there it was, a pretty little yellow star emerging from the water on a stiff stem, with its several-branched leaf stems swaying underwater with the current.

Heteranthera dubia is its scientific name, and Grassleaf Mudplantain is the common name the New York Flora Association calls it by. I like Water Stargrass better. I wonder why I've never seen this Pickerel Weed Family plant before, in all my paddling adventures.

On my paddle back to my car, I heard a pair of Killdeers piping away before I saw them scurrying around on a sandy flat. By the time I could get my camera out of my bag, one of the pair had disappeared, but this one hung around to keep an eye on me.


June said...

You DO roam, don't you!
Husband and I honeymooned on an island at Fish Creek. I couldn't find the spot now to save my life.

Louise said...

It is a pretty little flower, for sure. I got a kick out of Sgt. Triggerfinger. Sounds serious about keeping out strangers.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks for stopping by, June. I wonder if your honeymoon spot was the same Fish Creek I paddled. I think there must be a hundred Fish Creeks and Mud Ponds and Stony Brooks in the Adirondacks.

Hi Louise. Yes, pretty flowers and threatening sign. But I didn't feel TOO scared of getting shot. Thanks for your comment.

Lindsey said...

I love killdeer! I would also love to meet Sgt Trigger Finger. I bet he would have some interesting stories to tell.