Thursday, September 27, 2007

End of September flowers

I can't quite capture how they light up the dark understory, but here is one plant caught in a moment of sunshine (Portage River in the background.) Fairy wands of glowing yellow, against the dark leaves. (Solidago that grows in deep shade; fairy wand goldenrod.)

Flowers of Indiangrass, (Sorghastrum nutans).

Various native asters are also in bloom right now, in many shades of purple and blue.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Tree Canopy

The National Geographic has articles about scientists who haul themselves to the tops of rain forest trees in the Amazon River basin, and find up there a whole separate world of living things. Looking up along the Portage River, inside the city limits of Three Rivers, I see that we also have a canopy full of life, eighty or a hundred feet and more above me. Birds, mammals, insects, lichens and mosses live in the sunlight above the shaded marsh. I wonder if anyone has ever bothered to study this unique ecological zone? True, it may not be as romantic as going to the Amazon. But it seems to me that there is a lot going on up there.

I'd like to know why the dragonflies choose to sit on exposed snags so high above the river. I'd like to get a good look at things growing in the canopy, and watch the inhabitants. But I'm not a mountain climber so I don't think that will be happening. I can watch from below, but the dense, thick cover of leaves hides all but an occasional glimpse. I can hear the sounds, though. Locust, woodpecker, squirrel I know; but there are also strange unidentified calls and cries, whistles and chirps. What is happening up there?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

September 1, 1007

Warm but not hot, clear blue skies. A single fisherman tries his luck below the Boys Dam.
Golden bits of jewel basalm flowers scintillate in the green and mostly shaded swamp. Other small white flowers are blooming, but mostly it is fruits and seeds. The marsh is strangely dry, although the river is very high. I could walk out on it, and found seedheads of the skunk-cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus.)
Hoffman Pond's "islands" (actually mats of vegitation) seem to be changing color. Ripening rose-hips of the marsh-rose (Rosa palustris) along the shore.

The vegitation that makes up the "islands", which seems mostly to be water-willow. I don't know what the vining plant is that winds around it, thick with seeds. It is probably worth noticing that there is NO purple loostrife to be seen here. Not this year.

Bunches of cherries and grapes, elderberry and tooth-leaf viburnum hang over the water. In some places the grapes tangle with hanging branches of shrubs and trees, weaving a curtain of green.

Dangling from a fallen tree over the river, a large orb weaving spider has built an enormous web. It is almost four feet across.