Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Braving the Heat along the Power Line

Whoo, it was HOT yesterday!  Way up in the upper 90s.  So I thought I might go for a paddle instead of a walk, easing along the shaded banks of the Hudson in my little canoe, trailing my hands in the nice cool water, maybe even go for a swim.  Also, I could check on those Tubercled Orchids growing out on a little island just off the Sherman Island Boat Launch; they might be blooming now.
But when I reached the river, I had to think again.

The power company must be working on the upstream dam again, lowering the water level in the river and exposing wide mud flats along the shore.  What looks like a nice grassy lawn leading down to the water is really a shoe-sucking patch of mud into which I would sink to my shins if I tried to walk across it.  Same goes for what looked like a nice sandy beach surrounding the offshore island.

There was no way I could reach that green shrubby area out on the island, in order to check on those orchids.  I had to change my plans.

It's hard to imagine what would possess me to venture out onto this unshaded clearcut under the noonday sun on this sweltering day. Maybe it was my English ancestry: Remember that quip about mad dogs and Englishmen? Or maybe it was my knowledge that Wood Lilies (Lilium philadelphicum) and Green-flowered Pyrolas (Pyrolas chlorantha) might be blooming now in this very place, a powerline near the intersection of Spier Falls and Potter roads.

Well, almost blooming.  For the Wood Lilies, anyway, the ones growing in the midst of this patch of Hay-scented Fern.  What a spectacular sight this will be, when all those five buds open to reveal the lilies in all their brilliant-orange glory!

I did find the Green-flowered Pyrolas in full bloom, and quite a few of them, way under the pines that line the powerline.

I now am glad I braved this blistering-hot site, for it won't be long before these flowers are spent.  Green-flowered Pyrolas are not rare in the state, but I do see them far less frequently than their white-flowered relatives called Shinleaf Pyrola.

Encouraged by these floral finds, and already as drenched with sweat as I could get, I decided to cross the road to explore the powerline clearcut that runs along the top of Mud Pond.  I was rewarded right away by the sight of this gorgeous Wood Lily in full bloom.  I saw a few others still in tight bud, but only this solitary one in bloom.

I ventured on, hoping to find some Blunt-leaved Milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) in bloom, but it looks like I will have to come back  another day to enjoy their fragrant, rosy-pink flowers.  At least I was reassured that this interesting milkweed species can still be found at this site.

The same can be said for the Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) that grows here, which was showing the promise of its brilliant-orange blooms even in its tight buds.

Aha!  Here was another flower worth braving the heat to find:  American Climbing Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens).  This native bittersweet is classified as Rare in New York State, a situation  becoming more so over time, as the invasive Oriental Bittersweet takes over its habitat.  I'm grateful that there remains a thriving population along this open area above Mud Pond in Moreau Lake State Park.

Here's another native plant that likes this hot sandy spot:  Whorled Loosestrife (Lysicmachia quadrifolia).

New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) is a native shrub that is common in open sandy areas, too.  Although its flowers were not yet in bloom, I loved the star-shaped buds in this cluster that resembled the exploding stars of fireworks.

I momentarily stepped into the trees that line the powerline here, taking a shady break from the blistering sun.  And there I found this beautiful patch of hot-pink Maiden Pinks (Dianthus deltoides). Although this plant is not native to North America, it certainly adds considerable beauty to our roadsides, sharing such inhospitable spaces with other common introduced "weeds."

Oh my gosh, what's happening here?  At first I thought it was one four-winged bug flopping about on the sandy path, or maybe a freshly molted insect emerging from its old skin.  It wasn't until I downloaded this photo and looked more carefully at it that I discovered there were TWO bugs here:  probably the male atop the female (Ahem).  Thanks to BugGuide.net, I now know the name of the creature: Nigronia serricornis or Dark Fishfly.  This was a new bug for me, even though I now know it is hardly rare.

According to Wikipedia, Dark Fishflies have aquatic larvae that are common inhabitants of woodland streams in North America, and the larvae are the only one of its life stages that feeds, consuming such smaller invertebrates as Black Flies and Caddisflies.  After emerging from the pupal stage, the adults live only about a week, during which time they find mates and the female lays her eggs on structures overhanging the water.  After hatching, the larvae fall into the water to begin the cycle again.  I guess I was lucky to make this insect's acquaintance today, considering how short is its term on land.


Next said...

It is very nice to integrate with nature. Beautiful landscape and beautiful setting.

Woody Meristem said...

Who'da thunk your site would have X-rated photos. Good catch and nice flower photos -- down here the over-abundant deer have just about eliminated wood lilies from our flora.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks for your comments, Next and Woody. Glad to hear from you. Sorry the deer have done in your Wood Lilies, Woody. The power company does its best to destroy ours by spraying herbicides under their power lines. Where I used to find a hundred, I now find 5 or 6. I feel lucky they came back at all. Regarding bug sex, well, if you search my blog you'll find lots of hanky-panky among the winged ones, especially dragonflies and their acrobatic sex acts.

Anonymous said...

Swimmers at Moreau report getting a rash after leaving the water.