Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Here and There

I've been to nature sites all over northern Saratoga County this past week, some days dodging thunderstorms,  on others, wilting from the heat.  In the process I've taken hundreds of photos: WAY too many photos!  I was just about to chuck them all, but decided instead to post just a few, if only to demonstrate the wide variety of wonderful places to visit around here, whatever the weather.

These first photos were taken last Thursday, August 18, around the back bay of Moreau Lake. When I left Saratoga just after lunch, the day was sunny, but by the time I reached Moreau, I could hear thunder rumbling and see dark clouds looming.  Oh well, I thought, maybe I can make it around the bay before the storm.  But I was wrong.

Down came the rain!  Lots of it!  I took refuge back in the woods, worrying every moment that lightning might strike the tall trees I stood under.  Luckily, it didn't. And I got only a little bit wet.

I suppose it was unwise of me to venture around the lake that day, but I was on a quest.  One of the flowers that remains unrecorded for Saratoga County is Small-flowered Gerardia (Agalinus pauperculus var. pauperculus), and I knew for a fact that this little purple flower grows by the hundreds along the back bay's beach. And it was blooming NOW!

So I was able to obtain a specimen.  Kind of a wet one, but at least it was intact.

While standing under those trees as the rain beat down, I had quite a while to study a log that lay on the shore before me.  Just look at all the different fungi growing on it!  These tawny, striped ones, I believe, are Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor).

But I don't know what these creamy-white ones are.

Or these chocolate-brown ones edged with white.  Maybe they're both color variations of Turkey Tail.

At least I did recognize these colorful ruffly ones as a Stereum species, probably S. hirsutum.

And these brilliant orange ones are called Cinnabar Polypore (Pycnoporus cinnabarinus).

Back in the woods, sprouting in uncountable numbers from last year's fallen leaves, were these very tiny fungi called Marasmius capillaris.  As if by magic, they will pop up by the thousands every time we have a soaking rain and promptly disappear when the woods dries out again.

At last the rain stopped and the swirling black clouds and grumbling rumbles moved off, leaving behind rising clouds of mist from within the forested mountains.


And then the sun broke through, picking out patches of emerald green on the freshly watered land.

Sunday afternoon brought more rain, just as I ventured along the Kayaderosseras Creek near Ballston Spa.   I was seeking two more plants unrecorded for Saratoga County, Purple-stemmed Aster and Nodding Beggar Ticks, neither of which I found.  But what I did find was a landscape lovely and colorful even under gray rainy skies.

The major contributors of color to this landscape were the bright-yellow Tall Goldenrod and the dusty-rose  Joe-Pye Weed.  The vibrancy of their blooms only seemed enhanced by the grayness of the day.

I'm curious why this large bee did not seek out better shelter from the rain.  It seemed to be immobilized by being wet.

The most prolific flowers along the creek this week were the misty-white-flowered and starry-leaved vines of Wild Cucumber (Echinocystis lobata).  Although this native plant swarms over other plants as it vigorously grows, it apparently does no real damage to the shrubs and floral stands it drapes with its multitudinous frothy blooms.

I did not find the Purple-stemmed Aster I sought, but I did find the vivid purple blooms of a single plant of New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), blooming here long before I expect to see it along every local road.  I found it in the very same spot where I find it every year, this solitary anomalous early bloomer.  Being drenched with rain did not diminish its stunning color.

Tuesday, August 23, brought the coolest, driest weather we'd had all summer, with a bright blue sky, a gentle breeze, and temperatures only in the 70s.  It seemed a perfect day for a paddle on the Hudson River at Moreau.  I launched my canoe along Spier Falls Road and paddled out to explore the little islands that lie just offshore.

The late-summer blooms of the brilliant-red Cardinal Flower (Lobelia canadensis), the bright-yellow Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) and the creamy-white Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) have transformed the riverbanks into a colorful garden.

This little cluster of golden-yellow Boletes also did their bit to enhance the riverbanks' late-summer beauty.

After several heavy rains these past weeks, the river was higher than it's been all summer.  I was hoping to find lots of mud-flat bloomers, but high water levels had eliminated all mud flats.  But I did find these white dots of Pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum) blooming away well under water, lit by golden ripples of sunlight as little wavelets moved over them.

1 comment:

The Furry Gnome said...

What a lot of neat exploring you've been up to. Great picture of the rain on the lake, and a lot of fungi on that one log.