Just because I've been gone from my blog for a week doesn't mean I haven't been out in the woods or along the waterways. On the contrary! I've been out so often and to so many places, I haven't had time to sit down, sort through the hundreds of photos, and tell of the wonders I've found along the way. Let me catch up with these brief summaries of some of those places and some of what I found there.
Monday, July 26: The Pack Forest, Warren County
The day was hot when my friends Sue Pierce and Ruth Brooks and I visited the Charles Lathrop Pack Demonstration Forest, just a few miles north of Warrensburg. Named after an Adirondack lumberman who donated the 2,500-acre tract to the State University of New York's College of Environmental Science and Forestry, this shady forest of ancient pines and running streams offered a cool refuge from the sultry heat. And its well-maintained Nature Trail offered easy walking for viewing its many botanical treasures.
Of course, we came here not just to escape the heat, but above all to find the wee little native orchid called Dwarf Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera repens), which thrives in this forest and nowhere else that I have explored. Some years we find only a few. But this year, we saw these tiny white flowers held above vividly patterned leaves almost everywhere we looked.One might think, that with all the dozens of specimens of Dwarf Rattlesnake Plantain we found, I might have taken a nice clear photo of at least one of them. But this blurry shot was the best I could manage, even with the help of a ray of sunlight piercing the gloom of the piney woods and the brim of my hat trying to tell my camera where to focus.
We sure did take a lot of photos of them, anyway. I hope maybe Sue's pictures came out clearer than mine did.
As it happened, once we had found the orchid treasure we sought, it was fungi, not flowers, that stole the beauty show in the woods this day. As many times as I have come upon the bright-scarlet buttons of American Caesar Amanitas (Amanita jacksonii) emerging from their snowy basal cups, I never fail to be stunned by what an amazingly beautiful mushroom this is.
The American Caesars were abundant throughout the woods, and we found them at every stage of maturity, including this wide-open stage that was stunning in its vibrancy.
Rivaling those American Caesars for brilliant color was this enormous polypore fungus called Chicken-of-the-Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus), a mushroom that's surely hard to miss, notable for its gigantic size as well as its vivid color.
Thursday, July 29: Canal Park, Rensselaer County
Happily, we did find a few of our favorite flowers undamaged. Part of a stand of Great St. John's Wort (Hypericum ascyron ssp. pyramidatum) was leveled, but many plants remained upright, including a few that were blooming beautifully with enormous flowers.
I wish I could find a site that would tell me for sure what this lumpy whitish blob of a fungus was. One of a large variety of fungi we found at Canal Park, it sure was an odd-looking one, made even odder by being perforated by stems of haircap moss.
Friday, July 30, Woods Hollow Nature Preserve, Saratoga County
While making my way through the woods, I first noticed the golden orbs of some galls on the leaf of this seedling oak, and then a colorful Banded Net-winged Beetle landed on the leaf to add interest to the photo I was taking.
Saturday, July 31: The Saratoga Battlefield, Saratoga County