Posted on June 24th, 2011 3 comments Add a comment >>
Around this time of year orchids can be seen poking up through the leaf litter of the forests, and also along the moist peatlands(bogs) of the Adirondacks.
Photo Credits: (Top photo) Western Spotted Coralroot- Corallorhiza maculata, found along a trail in Henry’s Woods-Lake Placid.
All photos Brian McAllister
Posted on May 12th, 2011 1 comment - Add a comment >>
The thermometer nudged into the lower 70’s today as the sun tried but couldn’t find a hiding place behind clouds. A gentle wind blew in from the northeast, but the sun kept things warm.
What a perfect day to walk Henry’s Woods in Lake Placid. The spring migrant bird population was in full chorus and the spring wildflowers were making themselves known with their vibrantly colored flowers.
Here’s what I saw:
The bird population was very abundant, and too many to fill this blog. But I’ll list a few that I saw. If you walk the looped trail in a counterclockwise direction you will cross over several small tributary streams that feed a larger brook. Here the soil is very rich with a healthy overstory of beech, birch, maples, and some conifers for a splash of color.
The treetops in this area are just opening their buds and so small caterpillars and other insects are feeding on these buds. These insects make for a great breakfast for birds. Here are some of the species I saw feeding in the treetops:
Photo Credit: “Squirrel Corn”-Brian McAllister
Posted on August 26th, 2010 5 comments Add a comment >>
August seems to be a good time to find the parasites in the botanical world. First a definition-parasite(in the plant world) refers to any plant that feeds solely off another plant(host plant), but not always harming the host.
So what are they living off of? In the soil, growing among the many roots of nearby plants, are tiny hair-like fibers known as mycorrhizal fungi. These fibers are supporting the bigger tree & wildflower roots. But it is these mycorrhizal fibers that the pine sap, and others, are getting their nutrients from.
A slight deviation from that relationship is the parasitic life of beech drops which live entirely off of the nutrients of a host beech tree (Fagus grandifolia) root system. If you could dig down along the stem of beech drops you would find a connection directly to the beech tree root.
Amazing to think that there is a whole other world of plant relationships under the soil that we are just beginning to unravel!
A great spot to observe these parasitic plants(better in early August) is along the new trail system at Henry’s Woods in Lake Placid.
Other notes from the field are the recent swarming of winged ants that are coming out of their underground tunnels to fly around, mate, and then die…all in about 24 hours!
As I waited at a traffic light one early evening I saw hundreds of flying insects flying through shafts of sunlight and then they would disappear in the shadows. As I later parked my car at home I could see thousands of winged ants crawling all over the lawns, looking as if the ground was literally moving under my feet.
Can anyone tell us the species of these ants??
The next day I saw a large group of ring-billed gulls flying in circles and feeding on the flying ants. As a human I can relate to this….when blueberries come into season, I’m all over those fields plucking berries for a few days!
Photo Credit: Beech Drops(wikipedia)
Posted on August 12th, 2010 2 comments Add a comment >>
I always look forward to the gentle slide from late summer to early fall; the cooling nights that require one more layer on the bed; the sounds of crickets calling through the windless nights; and….having to re-learn all the goldenrods that I forgot last fall. This can be a pain in the aster!…sorry.
Anyways, I truly devote a few days each August to carefully look over the latest batch of goldenrods along the trail. But everytime I open the field guide I’m overwhelmed w/the possibilities.
The Peterson Field Guide to Wildflowers devotes 7 pages to the voluminous goldenrod family. Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide crams 30 species of goldenrod into 4 pages – not to mention the 37 species of aster that follow on the next five pages.
Well, have no fear, the New York Flora Association is here. On their blog they offer a few websites that look specifically at goldenrods and asters. However, I missed the memo on changing the family “Aster” to “Symphiotrichum”. I need a degree in plant taxonomy to understand that change!
Having said all this I think it best for you to go out to your favorite sunny trail and just admire, and learn if you’d like, all the wonderful goldenrods and “asters” that joyously demand our attention.
Locally I’ve enjoyed “botanizing” along the very level trail of Bloomingdale Bog (access off Rout 86 in Saranac Lake or Rout 55 near the hamlet of Bloomingdale) where I just found New York “Aster” growing. Another good site for both species is the north end of Adirondac Loj Road outside Lake Placid. Just by walking(carefully) along the road you might find 5-8 species of goldenrod.
On a walk up Cascade Mt last year, we found a few species of goldenrod that will only grow at higher elevations. And while walking over the boardwalk on the Forest Ecology Trail of the Paul Smiths Visitor Center, you will find Bog Goldenrod peaking its yellow head above her fellow bog plants.
Gosh, I’ve run out of time! Looks like next blog I’ll have to talk about the three species of Joe-Pye Weed and 8 species of Sunflower….you gotta love the composites!
Photo Credit: goldenrods among the blueberries-Brian McAllister
Posted on July 20th, 2010 Add a comment >>
In these final days of a very hot and humid July I finally grabbed a day to go photograph some of the amazing orchids at the Paul Smiths VIC.
I was a bit surprised, while walking on the Boreal Life Trail, to only find Northern White Fringed Orchis in bloom. There were a few “past their prime” Rose Pogonias but nothing like what has been observed in summers past.
Sadly, the “Grass Pinks”, or Calapogon, was not to be found like in the profusions of the past. I found one solid flowering specimen(with binoculars).
Having said all this, it should be noted that orchids do not always produce plants year after year. There are some “restful” summers that the plants take to re-energize underground, only to return the following summer to all their splendor.
So here’s some photos of the current white-fringed orchis in bloom, and I’ve added a few other orchids to give you a taste of what Barnum Bog is capable of producing.
click on the plant name to see photo:
Northern White-fringed Orchis -is it me or do the individual flowers look like fat, white ducks flying away?
Northern Club-spur Orchis(Platanthera clavellata) This is an interesting little orchid that only grows about 8″ tall so you have to get down on hands/knees to see this one up close. That is if you can find it. It has a greenish color to the flower so it’s hard to find among the grasses.
Photo Credits: Top photo(Lesser rattlesnake orchis), and all other photos-Brian McAllister
Posted on June 29th, 2010 4 comments Add a comment >>
Here’s a short pictorial collection from a wonderful morning paddle through a nearby wetland.
Click on the name to reveal the photo:
Rose Pogonia or “Snake mouth”
Large Cranberry -Vaccinium macrocarpon
Swamp Candles or “Yellow loosestrife”
Photo Credit: Flower of the pitcher plant(above) and all other photos-Brian McAllister