Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Early May on the Ice Meadows

The day was gray and right on the verge of rain, but that didn't dissuade my friend Sue and me from heading up to the Ice Meadows north of Warrensburg today.  In other years, there would probably still be heaps of leftover frazil ice cooling the shores of the Hudson River here, but this past winter brought us so little snow and ice that the Ice Meadow shores were already free of ice and starting to bloom.

We met in a parking lot that gave us access to the east bank of the river, and after a short walk through a pine woods, we came out onto a sandy shore abounding with Canadian Burnet.  Although this plant won't bloom for many weeks, its finely serrated, red-edged leaves rivaled the beauty of any flower, tipped as they were with diamond drops of water left from an earlier misty rain.

Our primary goal today was to find the rare Dwarf Sand Cherry that is known to sprawl across the sand and rocks of this section of river.  And we were not disappointed.   It was in glorious bloom today, and as fragrant as it was beautiful.

I was puzzling over these curious depressions in the sand, when Sue clued me in.  These are the sand traps dug out by Ant Lions, who on sunnier days would wait at the bottom of the trap to seize any unwary insect that happened to fall in.

We think we figured out that these small shrubs of close-clustering white flowers with wooly stalks were Purple Chokeberry.  We didn't have a magnifier to check for tiny glandular drops on the calyx lobes, so we may be wrong, but we just enjoyed their beauty anyway.

The lovely star-shaped flowers of Star Solomon's Seal were barely open, but no matter, since much of the beauty of this plant lies in its leaves.

Pretty little plants crowed in around the rocks, and I thought this mix of Early Saxifrage and Pussytoes was particularly charming.

I had just learned about this rare fern-ally, Selaginella, last week at Joralemon Park, so I knew it when I saw it today, growing on marble rocks.

Walking back to our cars to drive to the western side of the river, I was enchanted by the graceful arching of these baby Beech leaves just emerging from their coppery buds.

They looked quite amusing, like unlikely flamingos stalking about the piney woods.

On the western shore of the Hudson, the Ice Meadows are watered by springs that collect in little pools among the rocks.

This pretty little sedge was blooming by one of those pools.  A number of rather rare sedges are known to grow here, but I don't know if this is one of the rare ones or not.  Very elegant, with its narrow coal-black buds opening into fluffy yellow flowers.

Other pools are ringed with seepy banks that are thick with cranberries, including some with fruit still clinging to the stems, left over from last fall.

I should know this shrub, with its opposite branching and little flower clusters surrounded by leaves. Aaargh!  I will kick myself when I recognize it in bloom, but in the meantime I certainly enjoyed the beauty of its vivid coloration and elegant symmetry.

Looking at this photo again, I think it's a dogwood.   But which kind?

Another thing we both enjoyed was the sound of rushing water as the river coursed over the rapids offshore.  Here, Sue is making a recording of both the sight and the sound, so she can take the wonder of this marvelous spot back home with her.


Ellen Rathbone said...

OH, how I recognized those rocks! Love the photo of the burnet! And the "fern ally" - great stuff, as always!

suep said...

Always glad to walk with you and see things like "Beech Flamingos" - !

squirrel said...

Your photos are wonderful. You should check into self publishing a book of nature photos to go with your blog. They are visual delights.

"Auntie" sezzzzzz... said...

Fantastic photography!

How to pick a favorite, if I had to do so? Since I love photos of water droplets, guess it would have to be of the Canadian Burnet.

Thank you for sharing all of this, with us!

Gentle hugs,

"The moon like a flower
In heaven's high bower,
With silent delight,
Sits and smiles on the night."

~William Blake

Woodswalker said...

Yes, Ellen, we had some fine adventures out there on those rocks, didn't we? I'm glad to see all the adventures you're now having out in Michigan, which my readers can share by clicking on your name to get to your blog.

And Sue, you KNOW I am always glad to walk with YOU and and see the things you see. Again, dear readers all, do click on Sue's name to get to her blog and see the great stuff she finds.

squirrel and Auntie also publish wonderful blogs and both are surely worth a visit by all readers who follow mine.

Thanks so much for all your comments, my friends. I love having you come along with me.

Adk Keith said...

Another great article. I wonder, however, if what you are seening in the picture of the Canadian Burnet is not guttation and not rain drops.

Keep up the great work!

Woodswalker said...

Thanks for stopping by to offer your suggestion, Adk Keith. Another reader, Carol Gracie, had emailed to suggest the same thing, that the drops were pushed out of the leaves by internal root pressure, rather than collecting after rain. That might have been so, but every other leaf of every other plant and blade of grass was spangled with droplets, too, and there had been a very light misty rain just that morning. So I went with what seemed the more likely cause. I should do a post devoted the guttation process, a very interesting phenomenon. I'll have to get outside early some dry morning to see if I can find evidence of it, most likely on strawberries.

hikeagiant2 said...

Mist or guttation - those are beautiful 'crystalline drops" on the burnet. Marvelous as always!