Monday, August 3, 2020
Return to Archer Vly
I hadn't intended to revisit Archer Vly just yet. I'd explored that quiet Adirondack pond just a few weeks ago, after all. But then this photo of a visit there just one year ago appeared on my Facebook Memory page:
Oh gosh, who wouldn't want to be floating on that mirror-still water? And I remembered that ORCHIDS were blooming this time last year. And I even got two of the same three friends who paddled with me a year ago to join me again this year. A perfect adventure on a perfect pond on a perfectly beautiful day!
One of the things I love most about Archer Vly is the marvelous mix of native north-woods vegetation that masses together on its rocky north-facing bank. Sadly, those ripe Lowbush Blueberries remained just out of reach from my seat in my canoe. (But happily, they were quite reachable when we later returned to this very spot on foot!)
Here's a zoomed-in view of those bright-red Bunchberry fruits.
Mountain Holly hung its berry-laden branches over the water, the better we could marvel at the super-saturated red of its many fruits.
We were disappointed to discover that many of the Green Wood Orchids we expected to find were past their prime and already forming seedpods. But here and there we found a clump or two that were still in bloom.
And to compensate for our disappointment over the orchids, many Narrow-leaved Gentians surprised us with gorgeous royal-blue blooms. Last year, we found thousands of these native wildflowers blooming along these same shores, but not until later in August. So many flowers are jumping the gun this year!
Pipeworts are far less showy than gentians, but they have their own charm, when masses of them decorate the dark shallow waters close to shore.
Many floral stems of Arrowhead were also blooming in the shallows, some with the broad leaves appropriate to its scientific epithet latifolia (meaning "broad leaved"), but most with very narrow leaves. This species is known to have leaves that vary in size, but the range of sizes the leaves of this plant displays is quite remarkable.
As we paddled close to shore, we moved among many patches of the narrow, stiffly upright leaves of one of our typical shoreline bur reeds (Sparganium sp.), but then we encountered this anomalous patch, with flaccid leaves floating on the surface. A search through my guidebooks told me that this could either be S. angustifolium or S. fluctuans, since both are described as having flaccid floating leaves. I tend to believe that what we have here is the more common S. angustifolium, since S. fluctuans is rated as a Rare plant in New York State. If I find out otherwise, I will be back to correct my prediction.
UPDATE: The species of this bur reed has since been confirmed to be Sparganium angustifolium.
Here are the more typical stiffly erect leaves of most of the bur reeds we passed. And what a sight they were today, with hundreds of spreadwing damselflies flitting about, their glossy transparent wings glittering in the sun. It was very hard to obtain a focused photo of them, since they rested for only a second or less each time they landed on one of the leaves.
Still not a perfect shot, but the best I could do. What a lovely ice-blue color that made the damselfly appear almost transparent against the blue of the water!
My friend Sue has much more patience than I when it comes to photographing damselflies. I can't wait to see her photos of these beautiful creatures!
After slowly circling the pond, we beached our boats and climbed out to enjoy a picnic while sitting on the shore. We then walked the trail that took us through the woods, where we could enjoy closer views of many of the beautiful plants we could only glimpse from the water. One of the most abundant woodland plants was Painted Trillium, now in fruit with smooth, bright-red berries.
Our woodland walk also allowed us closer views of the many verdant mosses that carpeted the forest floor. Here is a velvety clump of Pincushion Moss (Leucobryum glaucum), providing a perfect foil for this perky little orangey-pink mushroom called Salmon Unicorn (Entoloma quadratum).
Here was another fascinating fungus called Black Earth Tongue (Glutinoglossum glutinosum), this one surrounded by the moss called Big Red-stemmed Moss (Pleurozium schreberi).
This honeycombed stuff that was spreading across a rotting log is not a fungus but rather a slime mold called Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa var. porioides. If this slime mold has a vernacular name, I regret that I do not know it.
Many plants of Common Milkweed grew in the sunny clearing near the boat launch ramp, and a search of the leaves promptly turned up several striped caterpillars of the Monarch Butterfly.
I was intrigued by this lovely diaphanous bowl-shaped web that was suspended from some twigs. It was created by the aptly-named Bowl and Doily Spider (Frontinella pyramitela). A wee little thing, you can see her resting at the bottom of her "bowl" if you look closely enough.