Monday, May 19, 2014

A Fine Day for the Back Bay

Despite skittering clouds and a moment's sprinkle of rain, today turned out to be a lovely one for a quick hike around the back bay of Moreau Lake, watching the sunshine chase the clouds' shadows across the bright foliage on the mountain across the way.

Recent rains have filled the lake almost up to the woods, but I still found enough shore to walk on without getting my shoes completely soaked.  I did have to mince my way at times, to avoid trampling the hundreds of tiny white violets starring the mud-damp shore.

Up on the higher banks, masses of Fringed Polygala spread a carpet of brilliant color in the woods.

Thickets of Lowbush Blueberry lined the shore, promising handfuls of sweet fruit later in summer.

I knew of several sandy spots where I always have found Bastard Toadflax about this time, and sure enough, there they were:  tiny star-shaped white flowers massed above pretty green leaves.

Here was a bird I have usually seen in more marshy wetlands, but this Green Heron had found a good perch to watch for the fish and frogs that compose his prey.

When I reached the part of the back bay shore my friend Sue has named "Odonata Shore" because of the hordes of dragonflies and damselflies that proliferate here, sure enough, the very air was alive with their glittering wings.

I had despaired of any dragonfly staying put long enough for me to take its photo, when I nearly stepped on this one, almost perfectly camouflaged among the twigs and pine needles scattered about the sand.  If the sun had not glinted on its iridescent wings, I doubt I would ever have seen it.  This is probably an immature specimen, difficult to identify as to species until its true colors emerge.

Update:  Thanks to Wayne Jones for putting a name to this pretty creature: Chalk-fronted Corporal (Libellula julia).  As he explains (see comments), if this is a female, her color will not change much as she matures, but if this is a male, the two stripes on the top of his thorax will become bright white, displaying the corporal's rank that suggested this dragonfly's common name.

A brisk breeze was swaying the branches of this Red Maple, causing its clusters of flower-pink seeds to dance on the air.  As pretty as any blossoms!

On my way back to Saratoga Springs, I drove along Spier Falls Road, stopping to admire the masses of Early Saxifrage that inhabit the crags rising steeply up from the side of the road.

I also stopped to take a clear cold drink from a spring that flows from these mountains, and there I found one of the prettiest patches of Yellow Clintonia I've ever seen, growing out of a red-berried carpet of Partridgeberry.


Wayne said...

Another batch of observations that would escape most people, and wonderful photographs to show us what to look for. The points-of-view and backgrounds you choose show off the less-conspicuous beauty of so many plants. Yellow Clintonia never looked prettier.

I believe your fresh dragonfly is a Chalk-fronted Corporal (Libellula julia). If it's a female, its appearance won't change much, but the pair of broad, showy white dorsal stripes will soon make the males easy to identify.

Wayne said...

Oops, just noticed that I just said "dorsal stripes" to ID the Chalk-fronted Corporal. Of course they are the broad, longitudinal "chalk" marks on top of the thorax.

The Furry Gnome said...

Another interesting group of plants to get to know. Sounds like an interesting place too. Off to try out the violets this morning.

Cincinnatus C. said...

Amazing--just this afternoon, in the back of my own back bay, I came across a little bush with some little white flowers I didn't think I'd ever seen before; now I see here that it's a lowbush blueberry. Now I'll know to keep going back to check on how the berries are developing!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Wayne, I can't tell you how deeply pleasing your praise of my photos is to me. (Readers, do click on Wayne's name to view his spectacular photographs, and you'll see why I feel so appreciative of his comments.) I'm very glad, too, to learn the name of that dragonfly. Thanks for being such a knowledgeable resource for me.

Furry, thanks so much for stopping by. You are such a loyal leaver-of-comments, and I am always glad to hear from you. Have fun with the violas. They can be really tricky, especially since the taxonomists are now reassigning many of them.

Cincinnatus, I am very glad to learn that my blog was helpful to you putting a name to what you find. That's one of the reasons I publish my blog. So thanks for your affirmation.