My pal Sue will be leading a bird walk along Bog Meadow Trail on April 22, so she wanted to scout out a route beforehand, and she asked me to come along with her on Sunday afternoon. If not for her invitation, I probably wouldn't have ventured out on this blustery, gray, cold day, strafed by intermittent snow squalls and only momentarily warmed by brief flashes of sunshine as clouds tore across the sky. The birds seemed to be hunkered down out of the cold, but we did hear a tree-full of Rusty Blackbirds squeaking away across the marsh, and a mini-flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets fluttered about the surrounding thickets, frustrating our efforts to grab their photos by darting away as soon as we raised our cameras. I can't believe I actually managed to capture this blurry image of one lighting for a microsecond on the side of a tree trunk. Such adorable little birds, even if they do personify the word "flighty"!
If we were frustrated by our failure to find many birds, we were even more disappointed in our search for spring wildflowers, although thousands of blooming Skunk Cabbage spathes (Symplocarpus foetidus) could be seen everywhere in the wetlands that line this trail.
Not just the Skunk Cabbage flowers, either. Their gigantic green leaves were beginning to unfurl in some of the muddy swales.
We also saw a few examples of False Hellebore (Veratrum viride) beginning to open their clusters of pleated green leaves.
Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris), too, was showing patches of green in the swales, with swelling flower buds tucked in among the leaves. It won't be long now, if the weather would only warm, before every roadside ditch and wetland explodes with their golden blooms.
We had hoped we might see some migrating waterfowl, and maybe hear some calling frogs, when we reached the boardwalk that crosses an open marsh. Unfortunately, that marsh was not yet open. The ice was thin, but it covered the water from shore to shore.
Okay. Few birds, and fewer wildflowers. What else could we find of interest, as long as we're already here? How about these vivid red twigs of Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum) filling the swamp with color?
These rosy wintered-over Foamflower leaves (Tiarella cordifolia) certainly added their beauty to an already beautiful moss-covered log.
Between the tight curls of Yellow Birch bark, the liverwort called Frullania traced delicate lacy arrays.
And here was a botanical surprise, a lovely patch of ruddy-leaved Sheep Laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) growing where we had never noticed any laurel growing before. I look forward now to finding their clusters of bright-pink blooms in mid to late June.
Look at these very pointy, lipstick-red buds on this berry bush. The bush was about 7 feet high and was hung with clusters of shriveled dark fruits. Any guesses what species of bush it could be? Possibly Alternate-leaved Dogwood? One of the Chokeberries? I just cannot place it.
At least we didn't have any trouble recognizing the lovely evergreen leaves of Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens) where they peeked out from their cover of dead leaves. I couldn't find one patch I was looking for, but Sue kept finding more and more of these beautiful plants wherever she noticed thick layers of pine needles.
We found a few of this orchid's flower stalks, too, their clustered seed pods persisting along the stem.
Here was a second orchid seed-pod we found this day, and we were doubly delighted when we found a second specimen of it not far from the first one we found. Actually, the pale wintered-over pods of Loesel's Twayblade (Liparis loeselii) are much easier to find in winter and early spring, than are the tiny greenish-yellow flowers when they bloom in mid-summer, hidden among the grasses and other green plants that tower over this little orchid.
I like chokeberry, (Aronia) for your unknown shrub ... but I don't know the species you might expect in your area. Aronia prunifolia is a guess, if you think it could be there.
The ice just won't let go this year will it? Sorry about your lack of birds and blooms, but your walks are always interesting, every single time!
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