Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Kayaderosseras Revisited

Day after day of drenching rains has brought many creeks around the county full to overflowing.  That includes the Kayaderosseras Creek near Ballston Spa, where I was scheduled to lead a nature walk along its banks today.   I thought I had better check out the trail before I led people along it, so I went over there yesterday, and it sure didn't look as if the trail would be passable.  The creek was running well over its banks with swirling, muddy water.

The trail that follows closely along the banks was completely under water in places, to a depth nearly up to my knees.

And where the water was not all that deep, the mud was thick and slippery.

 I was afraid we would have to cancel the walk (which was sponsored by the group called Friends of the Kayaderosseras), but when I arrived at the same site today, I found the water had retreated overnight to well within its banks.  Although we had to step carefully through a couple of muddy spots, we did manage to walk the entire length of the trail without soaking our shoes.

This particular trail, called the Burl Trail at Gray's Crossing, provides a study in how invasive species of plants can dominate a habitat.  The first part of the trail, beginning even in the parking area, presents an almost solid mass of the alien Parsley-family plant, Wild Chervil.  A little further along, the Japanese Knotweed, another invasive species, was already towering over our heads.  But I was happy to be able to point out how certain very sturdy native plants -- such as the flourishing Stinging Nettles pictured here --  were giving these introduced bullies some competition.

 Other native species, such as Tall Goldenrod, Joe-Pye Weed, Pale Jewelweed, American Germander,  and Giant Ragweed will also eventually push their way up through the thickets of invasives, although it was yet too early in the season to show these plants at their full height and in flower.  One native plant that was fully in bloom and more than holding its own in the open meadows was the Canada Anemone, forming solid mats of snowy-white blooms.

Several species of our native dogwoods were also doing well along the trail, including this Panicled Dogwood with its reddish terminal leaves and domed clusters of small white flowers.  Silky Dogwood, with flower clusters that are flatter on top, was also blooming nearby.

I was glad that the waters had receded enough to allow us to reach an area along the trail where a streambed remediation project had taken place late last fall.  I remember visiting this stretch of the creek last December and speaking with one of the team who were doing the work of beveling the formerly steep banks at this site.  This reshaping of the banks would allow floodwaters to spread out over a floodplain, rather than charge along destructively between steep banks, undermining tree roots and causing severe erosion.  A large number of native trees were than planted here at this site, most of which appear to be thriving.  The amount of standing water remaining among the trees revealed that this project appears to have succeeded.

 A Quick Visit to Woods Hollow Nature Preserve

After saying goodbye to the group of very pleasant folks -- including one adorable little girl -- who had accompanied me along the Kayaderosseras Creek, I made a quick visit to the Woods Hollow Nature Preserve, less than a mile away.  While walking around the small pond that lies at the center of this preserve, I stopped to examine the plants that were growing on this fallen tree trunk.

I thought it would be the ideal habitat for Round-leaved Sundew, and sure enough, I found just one small patch of it.

Pretty pink clusters of Sheep Laurel blooms were leaning over the dark water.

Fuzzy clusters of Beaked Hazelnuts were peeking out from among the leaves of this shrub.

In the open wet meadow near the parking lot, the royal-blue blooms of Blue-eyed Grass mingled prettily with the bright-yellow chubby flowers of Birds-foot Trefoil.

Such lovely flowers deserve a closer look!


The Furry Gnome said...

Interesting pictures for me. We're in Ontario, west and a bit north of you, and we get most of the same species here. Wild Chervil is a local menace here, and in bloom now. I was out taking pictures of dogwood yesterday. Glad your walk happened; I'm enjoying y our blog.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Greeting, Furry Gnome. Yes, I'm afraid that the menace of Wild Chervil has spread far and wide. I'll be looking at your blog to compare your local species of plants to those we have here in northern NY.