Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Avens, Avens, Everywhere!

If the Large-leaved Avens (Geum macrophyllum) is so rare as to be classified as an endangered species in New York,  how can it be that we've found it thriving in three contiguous New York counties this week?  Well, in the case of Essex and Saratoga Counties, I already knew exactly where to look, because I had seen it there, even before I knew it was endangered.  But in Warren County, my friend Sue Pierce discovered it entirely by accident,while out walking for exercise. And last Sunday afternoon, she took me to where she had found it.

Actually, Sue took me to three different places where she had found what she believed to be Large-leaved Avens: the Warren County Bike Path near Glen Lake, then to an expansive meadow with mowed paths surrounding a housing development on Meadowbrook Road in Queensbury, and just down the road from there, a many-acred field of meadow flowers called the Meadowbrook Preserve. (The Meadowbrook Preserve is where I took the photo above.)  And sure enough, we found this supposedly elusive plant at each one of those sites.  Even without its yellow flowers or burry seed heads, there was no mistaking the large round terminal leaflet on the compound basal leaves, or the very hairy leaves and stems.

After documenting the locations of all the Large-leaved Avens we found at each site, we continued walking just for the sheer pleasure of being out under a clear blue sky, surrounded by vast fields of goldenrods, asters, Joe Pye-weeds and other meadow plants. The air was filled with the shrill trilling of Tree Crickets, and if we stood still and paid attention, we became aware of a constant low hum, the sound of thousands and thousands and thousands of bees and flower-flies feasting on wildflower nectar and pollen.

Is there any late-summer wildflower more striking than the vividly purple New England Aster?  This was one of the commonest meadow flowers we found, set off so beautifully by masses of goldenrod.

We saw beautiful creatures, too, in addition to beautiful flowers.  It was a great day for numerous Painted Lady Butterflies, which were fluttering busily among the Joe Pye-weeds and occasionally spreading their lovely wings long enough for the picture-taking.

The Brown-hooded Owlet Moth is one of our drabbest moths, just a little dusty-brown thing that might be mistaken for a dead leaf.  But its caterpillar is one of the most colorful of all, with vivid red, yellow, and orange stripes alternating with striking black-and-white patterns.  It was so busy chowing down on this aster leaf, it let me move in for some close-up shots.

Somehow Sue managed to spy this female Marbled Orb Weaver hiding out in a cluster of flowers.   I think she must have caught it in action, while it was quickly wrapping that unfortunate bee in silk.  I know it's a female because of its globe-shaped abdomen, and oh look!  There's a tiny fly sitting atop that abdomen!  Smart fly!  I wonder if the spider even knows it's there.

At the far end of the meadow where the ground is damp, our footsteps set off a  frenzy of hopping Leopard Frogs.  Since the frogs were as green as the grass, we never saw them until they sprang from the path just ahead of our feet.  Then, once in a while, a frog would freeze, as if hoping its camouflage would save it from detection.  Silly frog, you should have landed in the grass instead of the dirt!


The Furry Gnome said...

I must go out and check some of the Avens around here!

Wayne said...

Congratulations on such fruitful searches! You and Sue have certainly trained your eyes to recognize Large-leaved Avens. I wonder if it is on the endangered list largely because so few people in most areas just don't notice it. And thanks for the tour of open meadows. You remind me that I have been spending all of my time on the water and in the woods, neglecting the bounty of the sunny places I roamed as a youngster.