Friday, June 24, 2022

Scenes from an Adirondack Lake

Lens Lake lies in the southeastern region of New York's Adirondack Park.  At an elevation of 1,841 feet and surrounded by mountainous slopes, it does qualify as a mountain lake.   But its attraction for my naturalist friends and me lies not in its altitude, but rather in its extensive bog mats and the fascinating variety of plants that thrive on them -- as well as along the convoluted shoreline of this quiet and beautiful body of water.

On a perfectly gorgeous June day last week, my friends Sue Pierce and Ruth Brooks joined me to paddle Lens Lake.  Here, we are moseying close to the shore, curious to see what plants we might find there, as well as to listen to the birdsong chiming out from the forest. The green leafy shrubs towering over our heads in this photo were mostly Mountain Holly (Ilex mucronata), with developing fruits that will later become the most saturated red imaginable.

As for now, the Sheep Laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) growing thickly along the shore provided flowers of the most saturated pink imaginable.

An occasional shrub of the shoreline was Witherod (Viburnum nudum), also known as Wild Raisin.  The fruits will come later, but now is this native shrub's blooming time, with showy clusters of crowded white florets.

Hard to believe, but these low-growing plants are miniature shrubs, a species of dogwood called Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), a name suggested by the bunches of bright-red berries that will follow the snow-white blooms. (Actually, the "real" flowers are small and green, clustered in the center and surrounded by  showy white sepals to attract pollinators.)  

Labrador Tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum) was one of the common shrubs along the shore, sporting clusters of white flowers and leathery lance-shaped leaves that were fuzzy underneath -- as were  the twigs.

This old stump had weathered to a silvery gray, and it was crowned by a gorgeous growth of scarlet Sphagnum moss. I loved the shimmering reflection in the dark water.

A Nannyberry shrub (Viburnum lentago) hung over the bank, and a gorgeous Fritillary Butterfly was feasting on its flowers.

After cruising along close to the shore for a while, we next headed out to the floating bog mats to see what wonders awaited there.

Carpets of Sphagnum were thick and cushiony, some a rich scarlet and others a beautiful gold. This golden-hued patch was studded with the deep-maroon leaves of Marsh St. John's Wort (Hypericum virginicum) .

Sturdy stalks of Northern Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia purpurea) stood tall above their vase-shaped leaves, crowned with globular blooms bearing petals of glowing red.

Floating logs served as beds for a marvelous assortment of bog-loving plants. Here, the rich red of a mass of Spatulate Sundew leaves (Drosera intermedia) was punctuated by the snaky, lime-green branches of Bog Lycopodium (Lycopodiella inundata).

And here was the flower we had hoped we might find: the beauteous Rose Pogonia orchid (Pogonia ophioglossoides). It's hard to imagine a lovelier wildflower, one of our most abundant native orchids.  We saw many budding stalks, but only a very few yet in bloom.

As we paddled past stands of the grass-fine sedge called Carex lasiocarpa,  I mistakenly thought we were seeing occasional stalks of Cotton Grass, noticing these cottony tufts high on the grassy stalks.  But a closer look revealed that these cottony tufts were composed of spider silk instead.  And each tuft held a tiny golden spider within.

Here's a closer look at the tiny spider sheltering within those tufts.  Sue sent off its image to iNaturalist and received the opinion that the spider was a species of Arabesque Orbweavers. When I googled images of Arabesque Orbweavers, sure enough, they looked like this pretty little spider. But those webby tufts were not the typical orb webs.  Oh well,  adorably cute she was, whatever her name!

Eventually, we had to take leave of this beautiful lake, but one last treat was granted to me as I reached to open the door of my car.  This big, beautiful Cranefly was resting on my door window, which also reflected the splendid sky that had blessed us all day long.


threecollie said...

I saw a pitcher plant yesterday and thought of you. It was such a vibrant red out in the marsh we were visiting.

Woody Meristem said...

Looks like a wonderful spot to paddle -- I'm envious.