Monday, September 2, 2019

Paddling With My Pals

I sure am one lucky lady!  Not only do I live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, I still have the health and strength and wherewithal to enjoy exploring the waterways of the Adirondack region of New York -- one of those being Oliver Pond, the isolated Essex County pond pictured above.  And even more important, I have the kind of companionable pals who love to explore these waterways with me.  Pictured below are Ruth Brooks, Nancy Slack, and Sue Pierce, who joined me this past Saturday to mosey around the shore of Oliver Pond, proceeding virtually inch by inch as we paused to examine each fallen log that was covered with fascinating botanical treasures.

I don't believe I have ever seen so much Sundew -- both the Round-leaved (Drosera rotundifolia) and the Spatulate (D. intermedia) -- as we found decorating log after log at Oliver Pond.  Both species were growing together,  shoulder-to-shoulder, atop nearly every log that lay in the water near the shore.

This little clump of Spatulate-leaved Sundew looked especially charming silhouetted against the dark water.  But charm is part of the sundew's strategy, tempting insects with its glistening drops that look like a sugary treat. But the drops are actually a sticky fluid that traps and holds the insect in place while the leaf folds over it and then digests and devours it.

The mosses were also gloriously colorful, heaped up in mounds atop the fallen logs they shared with the sundews and other  plants.  I believe this golden mound was made up mostly of Brocade Moss (Hypnum imponens).

I am not sure what this very curly moss is called (possibly one of the Dicranums), but it made a beautiful foil for the little sprig of white-flowered Northern Bugleweed (Lycopus uniflorus) that shared the log with it.

I loved the two-tone effect of this tightly clustered sphagnum that had grown to surround the base of each miniature Leatherleaf shrub.

Here was another mound of sphagnum, this one a deep blood red.  The three spiky balls at the lower right are the fruits of an emergent plant called Bur Reed (Sparganium sp.), a genus of plants I find difficult to narrow down as to species.

Here's a close look at a bright-green sphagnum that Nancy (a professional bryologist)  identified as Sphagnum squarrosum.  Also called Spiky Bog Moss (for obvious reasons).

Nancy also identified this sundew-spiked clump of curly green stuff as one of the Pellia liverworts.

This lichen with the  descriptive name of Lipstick Powderhorn (Cladonia macilenta) had almost completely taken over one fallen log with its red-tipped fruiting bodies.

A population of Swamp Beggar Ticks (Bidens connata) had found a home along this fallen log.

This one lonely flower of Water Smartweed (Persicaria amphibia) had a whole log all to itself!

Aside from a few past-their-prime Pickerelweeds, very few flowers grew on the actual shore of Oliver Pond, but the grasses and other graminoids were just as appealing as any flowers would be.   The cascading flowering heads of Rattlesnake Manna Grass (Glyceria canadensis) looked particularly beautiful as they waved in the breeze.  The spiky stalks of Three-way Sedge (Dulichium arundinaceum) made an attractive yellow-green frieze between the water and the tall flowering grass.

None of us had ever seen a wetland grass with leaves of such a purple hue, but we all agreed it looked quite beautiful.

The floating leaves and trailing stems of Watershield (Brasenia schreberi) were also beautifully colorful.

These spindly stems of Horned Bladderwort (Utricularia cornuta) were some of the few actual flowers we found along the shore.

But if we found few flowers along the shore, we sure found plenty of THESE flowers -- a white- flowered Purple Bladderwort (Utricularia purpurea var. alba) -- crowding the surface of the water in a quiet bay at the end of the pond.

When I last visited Oliver Pond nine years ago, these white-flowered bladderworts were so thick along the shore and nearly all around the pond, it was difficult to paddle through them.  But this year, we would have missed seeing them completely if our friend Sue had not detoured into that bay and discovered this ample population.  Here's a closer look at the small white flower.

Here's a little frog who seemed to be trying to get a closer look at ME, by climbing up on that Watershield leaf and fixing me with its froggy gaze.

I really could not name the species of this frog, since it had no spots nor stripes nor visible ridges that ran the length of its body, just very smooth skin that was a yellowish-green mottled with black. Anybody know?

UPDATE:  Thanks to a friendly herpetologist I know, I can now call this little frog by its proper name: Mink Frog.  Al Breisch identified it by noting that "the webbing on the hind feet extends to the tip of the fifth toe and the last joint of the fourth toe." He also stated that the webbing is not that complete on the similar-appearing Green Frog.

Here is the pair of Loons whose loud calls sounded across the water almost all the time we were on the pond. For sure, there's no sound like the call of a Loon that more aptly epitomizes the experience of paddling a pond in the midst of the Adirondack forest.  As I mentioned above, I sure am one lucky lady!  What a great day on Oliver Pond.


threecollie said...


The Furry Gnome said...

Yes you're one lucky lady! Great aquatic botanizing! I love the picture of the Sundew.

Woody Meristem said...

Fascinating pond and botanical finds.