Friday, October 10, 2014
Low Water at Mud Pond
It not only looks like autumn now, it has started to feel like it, too. Following many days of continued warmth, a definite chill was in the air today, causing me to grab a fleece jacket before setting out for a walk around Mud Pond at Moreau Lake State Park. I didn't have to wear it long, though, for a warming sun shone down on me, exposed as I was as I walked along close to the water, rather than taking the trail that leads through the woods. I was able to keep to the shoreline today because of low water levels, lower than I have seen on this pond for a long, long time.
Despite these low water levels, hundreds of Canada Geese still landed here to rest and feed on their migratory flights. Their constant honking among themselves was the music that accompanied me the whole time I was here.
Walking along on the muddy shoreline beneath the banks, I had to scramble over many trunks of fallen trees, almost every one of which served as a sunbathing spot for a bright-red Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly.
Imagine how pretty these next two views of the shoreline would have been, if the water had been high enough to provide for a perfect reflection.
But then, the views were really very pretty just as they were!
When I reached the far side of the pond, where a (now dry) creek forms a delta, I found the mudflats carpeted with lush green plants.
Sometimes I find these mudflats carpeted with a chubby green liverwort called Ricciocarpus, but today I discovered that the source of all this greenery was a low-growing Everlasting called Low Cudweed, spreading across the mud in unprecedented profusion. It amazes me how the plant population varies on these flats from year to year. This year, the liverwort was nowhere to be found.
I did find these chubby pink pods of Ditch Stonecrop, however. Their dazzling color this time of year would make this denizen of damp shores hard to miss.
Almost back to where I had parked my car, I passed through thickets of young American Hazelnut shrubs that had turned a very attractive coral-red.
At first glance, I feared that those Sawfly larvae I found on the dogwoods yesterday had developed a taste for these leaves, too. But a closer look revealed that those pale worm-like appendages were the Hazel's own male catkins, not leaf-devouring caterpillars. These catkins will hang on the shrubs all winter, opening to shed their pollen in spring when tiny red female flowers will also stud the branches.
I couldn't resist taking yet another photo of the intensely colored leaves of Maple-leaved Viburnum. Believe me, I did not enhance the saturation of this photo. These leaves actually glow this vivid color all on their own, even in the shade of the woods.
This Red Maple leaf, however, DID receive some color enhancement. Not by Photoshop, though, but by the lowering rays of the afternoon sun. Beautiful! Like stained glass.