Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fort Yargo State Park: Won’t Be Long Now… (Part 3)

Not only had I forgotten about the Hazel Alders blooming, I’d also forgotten that other trees would be starting to bloom too.

The Red Maples (Acer rubrum) were setting buds. The trees are showing the red cast they get as they set buds and start to bloom.

This morning, several trees are blooming. These are trees that I photographed last year will set seed. Sweetgums (Liquidambar styraciflua) and Elliott's Blueberry (Vaccinium elliottii) are also setting buds.

Some interesting drift wood. This is large; about 3 feet in length.

This morning, with more drainage into the lake and some rain during the week, the water has risen another 2 to 3 inches. Might not be able to walk the full length of this beach in another week.

One of two large ‘inlets,’ created by erosion from above, that are the reason that the trail doesn’t follow the shoreline along this beach. The trail has to climb up to the ridge and down to the shore again to avoid these inlets.

Off to the right of the inlet, this tree has an inviting hole that I had assumed would provide shelter for small creatures. Or so I thought. When I took a closer look at it this morning, there are three openings into this hole. It wouldn’t provide much shelter.

Some more interesting driftwood. This is a tree trunk that has ‘delaminated’ over time. It looks like the earlywood with its wider elements may have decomposed and the denser latewood has survived as layers of wood.

Remains of a feast. The shells of the small freshwater bivalves are all that remain of a meal had by some of the furry denizens of the park. It’s not unusual to find piles of shells along the shore.

A spider hidden in plain sight on an alder catkin. I was steadying the catkin to photograph it when I realized I wasn’t alone. The spider didn’t move during the several minutes I was photographing.

The University of Georgia Dock to the Point

The Boat Launch and Dock

A couple of photographs, taken on November 7th 2010, of the shoreline near the boat launch at the beginning of my walk.

The shoreline last Monday, February 21 2011.

Fishermen are back on the lake. There were four or five boats out last Monday and again this morning. I won’t have an excuse not to go out soon. I’d rather see another foot of water before I do. I’ve seen the obstacles that would still be just under the surface. I’d rather not bottom out on them.

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Related posts:

- Fort Yargo State Park: Won’t Be Long Now… (Part 2)

- Fort Yargo State Park: Won’t Be Long Now… (Part 1)

- Fort Yargo State Park: Déjà Vu

- Fort Yargo State Park: A Cold, Sunny Day

- Fort Yargo State Park: Shades Of Brown And Green. Part 1

- Fort Yargo State Park: Shades Of Brown And Green. Part 2

- Snow: Fort Yargo State Park

- Boat Launch To The Picnic Area: ‘Low Tide'

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fort Yargo State Park: Won’t Be Long Now… (Part 2)

The Monster Mile Bypass emerges from the woods at the south end of the dam. I walked along the dam to see how deep the water was. At ‘full pool’ the water is about 24 feet deep.

It’s now just below 22 feet. Another 2 feet or so to go. But compare this with…

The depth on November 14th, 2010. The water was about 14 feet deep then.

I walked back along the dam to continue on the trail along the lake shore. This is the shoreline immediately north of the dam on the west side.

A Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor) leaf. This is a good time to spot Cranefly Orchid plants. The leaves will die before the orchids bloom in July.

This snag is north of the trail (segment 3) just east of the footbridge. I’m fascinated by the perfectly circular hole in the snag. I didn’t see any bird activity but I’ll be keeping tabs on it.

The shoreline looking south just after I dropped down onto the beach. The beach is quite narrow now. It won’t be long before it won’t be possible to walk along it.

A Hazel Alder (Alnus serrulata) in bloom. The male catkins along this beach were in full bloom. I didn’t realize how much pollen they produced until…

I held a catkin that was blowing in the wind in order to photograph it. My fingers were covered with pollen.

The female flower of the Hazel Alder.

Some driftwood lying on the beach. It’s reminiscent of a shark fin. I’d seen these previously still attached to dead tree trunks in Harbin’s Park in Gwinnett County.

Next, finishing the hike.

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Related posts:

- Fort Yargo State Park: Won’t Be Long Now… (Part 1)

- Fort Yargo State Park: Déjà Vu

- Fort Yargo State Park: A Cold, Sunny Day

- Fort Yargo State Park: Shades Of Brown And Green. Part 1

- Fort Yargo State Park: Shades Of Brown And Green. Part 2

- Snow: Fort Yargo State Park

- Boat Launch To The Picnic Area: ‘Low Tide’

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fort Yargo State Park: Won’t Be Long Now… (Part 1)

The lake level was lowered in late October/early November, 2010. so that the braces on the supports under the pedestrian bridge at Section B could be replaced. It was a little disappointing but did allow for access to the shoreline again.
Maps of the park have been placed in notice boards at various places in the park. This map is at the boat launch at Section B.

Trail: Park Map

Trail: Satellite View (Google maps)

The trails that I followed – on the park map and on a Google satellite image. I followed the hiking trail to point A. From point A, I a followed a trail not marked on the park map to point B where I joined the Monster Mile Bypass and followed this trail down to the dam. I followed the hiking trail back along the lake to point C where I left the trail and walked, almost back to the starting point, along the shoreline.

The water level at the pedestrian bridge on February 20, 2011. Compare this with…

The lake level at approximately the same place on December 19th, 2010.

Hazel Alder (Alnus serrulata) catkins. I’d forgotten that the alders would be flowering now. These were at the south end of the pedestrian bridge.

Looking along the trail just past the pedestrian bridge. The sunlight on this morning was magical, particularly after a number of cloudy days.

The trail climbs the hill to a plateau. The trail surface, which is clay, looks as if it has been polished. The trail leads away from the lake to a right-of-way and then…

The trail enters the woods after crossing and open area. This trail winds its way back down to the lake.
Again the sunlight in the woods was striking.

Looking back along the trail just before it reaches the lake shore again.

At the beginning of the steep climb - from 915 ft to 945 ft above sea level (a.s.l.) – to Point A on the trail. It seems much steeper.

Looking northeast along the trail that leads back down to the lakeshore. The trail drops into an open basin before it begins the serious descent to the lake.

The trail I followed to point B made an initial climb to 962 ft
a.s.l., descended a little to the Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) tree and then curved and climbed to 986 ft a.s.l. to join the Monster Mile Bypass.

Looking down the Monster Mile Bypass trail that leads to the dam.

I almost missed this fern. It’s a grape fern (Botrychium sp.). I know where two grow deeper in the woods and had checked to see if they had emerged yet. Since they hadn’t, I wasn’t expecting to see one in this area.

A closer view of the grape fern. It’s in a well-lighted location. I will be surprised if this fern sporulates.

Next stop, the dam.
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Related posts:

- Fort Yargo State Park: Déjà Vu

- Fort Yargo State Park: A Cold, Sunny Day

- Fort Yargo State Park: Shades Of Brown And Green. Part 1

- Fort Yargo State Park: Shades Of Brown And Green. Part 2

- Snow: Fort Yargo State Park

- Boat Launch To The Picnic Area: ‘Low Tide’

Monday, February 21, 2011

First Wildflower of 2011: Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)

I’d seen a few rosettes of Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) in areas of the field at home that were protected from radiant cooling at night. After finding the Hairy Bittercress with buds at Little Mulberry Park in Gwinnett County, I searched at home and found one plant with buds. During the following week, I found five or so more. Then, last Saturday, I found a single plant at the front end of the field that not only was sheltered from radiant cooling at night but also received a lot of sun during the day. This precocious plant had five flower stalks.

The plant.

A closer view of the florets on one stalk. Seed pods are already developing from the centers of some florets.

A closer view of the florets on the most developed stalk.

A view of a stalk in with developing seed pods. One seed pod already shows swelling due to the developing seeds.

The seed pods will develop rapidly and spray the seeds when the pod splits open suddenly at the slightest touch. The following photographs were taken in 2010.

A stalk with developing seed pods.

Ripe seed pods.

It's almost impossible to touch ripe seed pods without the pods ‘exploding.’ The pod springs open. One half of the pod remains attached to the stalk and the other half detaches at the top and curls up rapidly spraying the seeds through the air. The seeds are sticky and adhere where they fall. This photograph shows the seeds and the halves of seed pods that have curled up when the pods sprang open.
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Distribution Map:

- University of North Carolina Herbarium:
Cardamine hirsuta – Hairy Bittercress
- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Cardamine hirsuta (Hairy Bittercress)

Identification resources:

- Shedi de botanica: Cardamine hirsuta – Hairy Bittercress

- Native & Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Hairy Bittercress
(Cardamine hirsuta)

Related posts:

- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower – Wildflower Index

- Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)

Gwinnett County: Little Mulberry Park – East Meadow Trail (Part 2)

The East Meadow Trail circled the meadow and then ran along just inside the edge of the woods. It emerged for a short distance before diving back into the woods for the final quarter mile.

The woods were mostly bare with several downed tree trunks.

Some smaller trees, including this American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) hadn’t lost their leaves and broke the monotony of bare trees.

This was one of the few ‘bushes’ in the woods.

A closer look. It was more a series of long thorns with connecting stems. It didn’t have any leaves. I know I’ve seen photos of it somewhere but can’t remember what it is. Can anyone help me identify this plant?

A couple of Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) seedpods. The ground was littered with them.

Clumps of wild onions dotted the landscape. I’ve never seen these bloom. Looked like something had nibbled on these.

The East Mulberry Trail, which had crossed the open meadow entered the woods again.

Another fallen tree. The trunk was covered with bracket fungi, probably Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor), which is common in these woods. These were well past their prime.

The Carriage Trail (D), a paved, multi-use trail, connects the meadow trails with the Miller Lake Trail.

More leave. A maple tree this time.

Another American Beech tree by the trail. There were a lot of small trees in this area with leaves still attached. These were a welcome change from the bare woods.

A close up of their leaves.

There were also several holly trees in this area of the woods.

And mounds of moss. This was the most impressive mound.

Almost at the end of the East Meadow Trail.

The mile marker at the end of the trail.
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- Gwinnett Parks and Recreation: Little Mulberry Park

Related posts:

- Gwinnett County: Little Mulberry Creek Park – East Meadow Trail (Part 1)

- Gwinnett County: Little Mulberry Creek Park – West Meadow Trail

- Gwinnett County: Little Mulberry Park – Miller Lake Trail