Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring Is In The Air: Fort Yargo State Park, Section B To The Dam, April 12th (Part 2)


April 12th. (Continued from… ) When I visited Fort Yargo State Park in mid-February, there were few signs of Spring. The only wildflower plants that were obvious were the leaves of Cranefly Orchids (Tipularia discolor) that I found in many places. On my previous walk on April 5th, the leaves of the Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) Orchids were just poking through the leaf litter and I was surprised by a Perfoliate Bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata) that was just starting to bloom.
  

The route… I’ve described it here, here, here, and here. This walk doesn’t have the variety of wildflowers as my other walk from the Group A Shelter to the Old Fort but it does have some gems.
  

I continued along the trail to the… 


tree snag where I saw the Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla) the previous week. There wasn’t any activity and there appeared to be a second hole higher up the snag from the hole the nuthatch was working on. It may have just been digging out insects but I’m going to keep an eye out for it just in case it was building a nest. 


I found more Woolsower Galls. The galls seem to occur only in relatively sheltered areas; I haven’t seen any in open areas or in areas that are windy. 


These ferns are new. 


I found a few Deerberry (Vaccinium staminium) just starting to bloom. 
 

I finally arrived at the hillside with the Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) Orchids. One, in bloom, is clearly visible in the lower lef of this photo. There are several in a flat area behind the pine tree on the left. They are scattered up the hill and off to the right. There are 15 to 20 orchids in this area which are protected in Georgia.
  

Two orchids with developing buds. 


Another individual orchid in bud. 


An orchid in bloom 


Closer views of the flower. 


A fly obliged by posing for a photo nearby. 


When I could tear myself away from the orchids, I continued along the trail. 
  

And then I spotted another Smallflower Pawpaw (Asimina parviflora) flower.


The plant, only a single stem, is a little right of center in the foreground. There are a few leaves on the tip of the stem. It's easy to see why it can be hard to find these plants until they bloom and start to set leaves.


The leaves, up close, with some old flowers below the stem. 


Another interesting gall. I didn’t know what the host plant was so I haven’t been able to identify it. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it on my next walk) 


I always enjoy seeing this bench. It’s so inviting after the climb up the steep hill but I resist the temptation to sit because there’s still another climb to the top of the hill. It might be a different story in the summer when it’s very hot though. 


My last plant check is the Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor) leaf cluster near the edge of the forest. They’re still there but they don’t look healthy; they haven’t looked healthy for a while now. 


Just about back to the parking lot - just as it started to rain.

It was really exciting to find the Smallflower Pawpaw plants and the Pink Lady’s Slipper Orchids in bloom. It will be interesting to follow the pawpaw flowers and see if they develop fruit. 

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Spring Is In The Air: Fort Yargo State Park, Section B To The Dam, April 12th (Part 1)


April 12th. When I visited Fort Yargo State Park in mid-February, there were few signs of Spring. The only wildflower plants that were obvious were the leaves of Cranefly Orchids (Tipularia discolor) that I found in many places. On my previous walk on April 5th, the leaves of the Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) Orchids were just poking through the leaf litter and I was surprised by a Perfoliate Bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata) that was just starting to bloom. 


The route… I’ve described it here, here, here, and here. This walk doesn’t have the variety of wildflowers as my other walk from the Group A Shelter to the Old Fort but it does have some gems.

On the flat section at the beginning of the trail I found a few flowers. 


Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule), 

Cutleaf Evening Primrose (Oenothera laciniata). There don’t appear to be as many of these as there used to be. 
  
Oldfield Toadflax (Nutallanthus canadensis). 


The Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) was starting to grow. It’s another ‘three-leaf’ plant that isn’t a skin irritant but overgrows everything in sight given the chance. 


The trees had leafed out so that they were starting to block visibility through the woods in a lot of places. 


The grove of Christmas Ferns (Polystichum acrostichoides) looked a little foreboding under the cloudy skies. 
  

Most of the fronds had developed fully but there were still some fiddleheads developing. 


I found a Mountain Azalea (Rhododendron canescens) in full bloom along the lake shore. 


The tubes showing hairs that are also characteristic of the Pink Azalea often referred to as the Pinxter Flower (Rhododendron periclymenoides). The tubes of these flowers were slightly sticky indicating that this is R. canescens rather than R. periclymenoides whose tubes are not sticky. 


These plants were growing in many places along the trail. I’m expecting that they are the Shrub Lespedeza (Lespedeza bicolor).
  
I was in for a surprise at the top of ‘The Hill.’ I stopped just short of the summit and looked to my right. I could see some stems with many irregular shapes on their undersides. I couldn’t resist investigating and found a... 
  

Smallflower Pawpaw (Asimina parviflora) plant. It was little more than a couple of stems. The only place I had seen this previously was in the Ogeechee Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Hancock County, Georgia.


Most of the flowers were old but I found a couple of nice ones. 
  

The leaves.


These plants bloom before the leaves develop so it can be hard to spot them in the woods; they just look like stems. 

I was excited to find the Smallflower Pawpaw here. I had followed plants in Hancock County from blooming to fruiting but it’s a long way down to the Ogeechee WMA so I couldn’t go as frequently as I would have liked. Here, I can visit weekly and hope that the plants will fruit.   


The Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) had put on more leaves but still no sign of flower buds. 


I found several Woolsower Galls, produced on White Oaks by the Woolsower Gall Wasp (Callirhytis seminator) in the woods along this trail. This was a particularly nice gall. 


All of the flowers on the Perfoliate Bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata) I found the previous week were open, giving a nice display. 
  

And then on to see how the Pink Lady’s Slipper Orchids were doing. 
(To be continued…)

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Spring Walk At Fort Yargo State Park: Shelter A To The Old Fort, 10th April, 2015 (Part 2)


April 10th. (Continued from…) I started to walk again at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Georgia. One of my favorite walks is from the Group Shelter A to the Old Fort and back. This is a rewarding walk for viewing wildflowers and I’ve been trying to walk it weekly.

 The route, which I described here. Things, in the way of Spring wildflowers, was starting to warm up on my most recent walk, documented here, hear and here.

We’d had a lot of cloudy, rainy weather so photographing presented a challenge and I had to use more artificial light than I like but… I found a few ‘new’ flowers on this walk. 


One of the flowers on the Eastern Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus) at the top of the cliff was fully opened with the anthers visible. This is the only flower that I’ve seen opened as far as this. 


A small cluster of Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum) were beginning to bloom. 


The American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) leaf buds, that had been sneering at the Spring weather, were finally starting to open. 
  

Looking back at the cliff. The Mountain Azaleas are visible at the top and base of the cliff. It was starting to rain lightly by now. 


The buds on the two Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) Orchids were visible now. Hopefully, they'd be open in another week or so.


There had been a lot of social activity between a couple of pairs of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis). One of them swam relatively close on its way back south along the shoreline. 

The Green Arrow Arum (Peltandra virginica) clump that I’d been photographing was looking very healthy. 


It started raining relatively heavily as I started along the trail to the ‘Rock Garden.’ Luckily I’d brought a rain jacket so I was able to throw it over my backpack and me and I was able to complete my planned walk. 


This hickory/pecan (Carya sp.) was blooming, and this… 


Red Maple (Acer rubrum) still had clumps of seeds attached as it was leafing out. 


I spotted this Woolsower Gall, produced by the wasp Callirhytis seminator on White Oaks (Quercus alba). I haven’t seen many of these over they years so I was delighted to see this one.


The flowers on the Perfoliate Bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata) were fully developed compared with the previous week. The perfoliate leaves were quite visible. 
  

I found another Solomon’s Seal starting to bloom. 


Another Perfoliate Bellwort further along the Rock Garden trail was blooming. 


I completed my walk to the Old Fort end of the trail and turned back. It was raining lightly but steadily; the trail was misty as a result. 


The deciduous trees were contributing several shades of green to the shoreline. 


I made my way back along the trail to the… 


first bridge. It was starting to rain heavily by this time but I couldn’t resist stopping for a photo of a… 


pair of Canada Geese resting on a fallen tree trunk in the lake. 

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