Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Where'd the River Go?

Many circumstances combined to keep me out of the woods this past week or so, but today I was finally free to head outdoors and see what the natural world was up to these days.  A nice walk along the river seemed like a good way to get my nature fix, so I headed over to Spier Falls Road hoping to enjoy some lovely views of the Hudson while I stretched my (recovering) legs.  Imagine my surprise when I found the water level so low, it looked like someone had pulled a giant plug and drained the catchment between the Spier Falls and Sherman Island dams.

In fact, that's pretty much what actually happened.  I found a notice posted by the power company that operates the dam, informing the public that water levels will be lowered until early November, while work on a "water control structure" is being undertaken.  Yes, lowered indeed.  Look at the broad mud flats that line the banks and surround the mid-river islands.

At first, I thought that this might be my lucky chance to walk along the river banks, exploring areas I otherwise haven't been able to get to this summer, since my broken kneecap has not yet healed enough to let me lift myself in or out of my canoe.  But I soon found that the mud was too soft to allow for easy walking, especially while I have to balance myself with a cane.  But it was interesting to see what plants have been revealed on what was once the bottom of the river.

I sure wish I could have visited this site earlier this summer when the Golden Pert was fully in bloom, covering every mud flat and filling every rock crevice with a glowing yellow carpet.  Most of the plants were already done blooming, although I did find a few still bearing its tiny yellow trumpets.

Punctuating the mats of green were a few white Arrowhead blooms.

Higher up on the banks, the bright yellow Sneezeweed was vying with the brilliant red Cardinal Flower to be the showiest flowers along the river.

It was actually a bit unpleasant here, and not just because the mud sucked at my feet and threatened to topple me into the muck.  The stink was also pretty strong, with rotting vegetation and hundreds of snails and freshwater mussels stranded to die in the blazing sun and oppressive heat.

As I turned to head toward the shade of the nearby woods, this beautiful  Meadow Hawk  Dragonfly perched on a twig just long enough for me to take its picture.  I love that ruby-red body and those black lace wings.

Back in the shade of the woods, I found no flowers in bloom this late in the summer, but I sure found many beautiful fruits.  The Virginia Creeper carries its frosted-blue berries on hot-pink pedicels, backed by emerald-green leaves.

One of the prettiest fruits in the late-summer woods is that of Indian Cucumber Root, when the berries turn a deep blue-black, held aloft above green leaves brushed with vivid red.

I love the marbled-pink berries of Solomon's Plume before they ripen into a solid red.

The fruits of Canada Mayflower display a similar mottled coloration before turning a translucent ruby red.

Now is the time to find the fruits of White Baneberry, such a distinctive porcelain white on pedicels of vivid pink, each berry topped with a large black dot.  It's obvious how this plant earned its alternate common name, Doll's Eyes.


threecollie said...

The wildflowers are lovelier than any garden. Thanks

catharus said...

As always, thanks for letting us come along on your excursion! Blessings!

Unknown said...

love all that photos... :)
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greentangle said...

Don't get around to the blogs much anymore so I'm very late learning of your accident. Glad you're still getting out some--photos are still as lovely as ever.