Saturday, June 8, 2019

First Paddle on the Hudson, 2019

 At long last, a warm sunny day on Friday! Perfect for a paddle on my beautiful Hudson River at Moreau, my first time out on the river this year.  After weeks and weeks of rain, the river was still full and fast, but at least the surface was quiet as I pulled hard against the current to reach some little islands that lie just offshore from the Sherman Island boat launch along Spier Falls Road.

I was afraid I might be too late this year to witness the Early Azaleas blooming abundantly on these little islands, but I could detect their incredible fragrance even before I saw their big bright-pink blooms along the rocky shore.

These little islands used to be covered with tall oaks and birches, but what consistent flooding over the past 10 years hasn't killed, the beavers have toppled, so that what were once shady glades on a hot summer day are now open areas filled with Lowbush Blueberry and Black Huckleberry shrubs. Plus lots of azalea shrubs.

If the birds don't eat them first, all these berry bushes will provide quite a feast in midsummer. I loved seeing the ruby-red flowers on the Black Huckleberry shrubs.

Some bright-pink and yellow Pale Corydalis flowers had sprung from cracks in a boulder along the shore.

When I returned to my canoe after walking around the island, I found I had a passenger with this very large Striped Fishing Spider.  Sorry, buddy, I can't take you fishing with me today.  I do love spiders,  but not crawling around in my boat! I gently tipped him off the gunnel onto the sand.

Wow!  Look how the spider virtually disappeared against the sand!

High water on the river this year has drowned most of the beautiful wildflowers that grow close to the water, so I never saw any Blue Flags or Small Sundrops or any of the other June flowers that usually delight me along this section of the river.  Plus, my arms were growing weary from paddling against a strong current.  So I beached my boat after an hour or so and headed home.  But on the way, I stopped at the powerline clearcut that runs at the top of Mud Pond.  Would our native Climbing Bittersweet be blooming now? 

American Climbing Bittersweet is a native vine that is seriously threatened by the introduced Oriental Bittersweet that strangles many of our roadside trees now. So I'm happy to know where some of our native bittersweet grows, and I found it thriving this year, although mostly still in tight bud.

Here was one little greenish-white flower opening atop a terminal cluster of buds.  The presence of terminal flower clusters is one of the features that distinguish this native vine from the introduced one, which bears its flowers in leaf axils along the vines.

The sandy soil of this clearcut provides a perfect habitat for our native Wild Lupine, too.  This lovely perennial Pea-family plant is not abundant at this site, but a few patches of it do thrive here, and they were in gorgeous full bloom today.  This plant is the only larval food for the federally endangered Karner Blue Butterfly, and I did see a small brown butterfly busy among the leaves of this patch.  The female Karner Blue is small and brown, but this butterfly did not land long enough in one place for me to get a clear photo, and thus a certain identification.

Another gorgeous wildflower that thrives along this sandy clearcut is the Pink Lady's Slipper, and I found over 50 today, in full glorious bloom. They tend to grow just at the edge of the pine woods that lines the clearcut, but a few grow out in the mossy verge.  I thought this one was especially pretty, set off by a baby spruce.


The Furry Gnome said...

Wonderful captures of interesting plants! And great to get out for a first paddle. I'm trying not to miss my paddling days!

Kathleen Phillips said...

I so miss this part of New York. Thank you.

Woody Meristem said...

Beautiful photos. You live in a beautiful area with an abundance of botanical treasures.