Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Under the Boardwalk ...

Hastings County is fortunate to have a number of conservation areas. Among these is the H.R. Frink Outdoor Education Centre which has a boardwalk across a large expanse of wetland, allowing visitors to view areas of the marsh that would normally be inaccessible without a canoe.

These three Blanding's Turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) were basking on a floating log just a few feet from the boardwalk (they're visible to the right of the boardwalk in the photo above).

Unlike the Painted Turtles which took no chances and dived at the slightest provocation, these guys watched us with a haughty and imperious demeanor, acting as if they owned the marsh. Which, in a sense, they do: at close to twenty centimeters in length they are too large to be bothered by most predators. Considered a threatened species, two man-made dangers the turtles in this locale are immune to are destruction of their habitat and road mortality, and they might well live to a ripe old age of eighty-plus years.

Three of the following aquatic plants are new to me, having been overlooked because they live in areas of a marsh that are beyond the reach of my camera. A first sight I thought these little white flowers belonged to a species of Arrowhead. In fact, they are Common Frogbit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae).

With little yellow flowers that resemble snapdragons, the Common Bladderwort (Utricularia vulgaris) is another of the carnivores of the plant kingdom. The plant's leaves and stem are submerged, and spaced along the stem are little bladders with hairs. Should a small organism contact these hairs they trigger the bladder to open, drawing in whatever is nearby.

Another "new" (to me) species – the Water Shield (Brasenia schreberi). The submerged stem and underside of the leaf is coated with a slimy jelly.

A familiar sight at many local marshes but until now out of the range of my camera (a Canon PowerShot A530): the Yellow Water Lily (Nuphar lutea).

The Frink Center has several other trails meandering through woods and meadows as well as wetlands. One could spend a lifetime here and still only scratch the surface of all there is to see and learn.

Whites and yellows are hard to photograph even with optimal lighting, and photography in shaded areas can be particularly challenging, as flashbulbs can distort colors and produce reflections from glossy surfaces. This was the best I could do with this Waxflower Shinleaf (Pyrola elliptica).

I think this fungus is an Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus).

An Amanita, not sure what species.

Look twice at a "worm" if you turn over an old log on the damp woodland floor, it might be a Northern Redback Salamander (Plethodon cinereus).

The odonate species at the Frink Center are the same as at other local marshes. But we can't leave without mentioning them at least in passing ...

The sky was overcast and this mating pair of Rainbow Bluets ( Enallagma antennatum) decided to perch in the shrubbery, so this photo can't really do these gaudy little damselflies justice.