Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Walk At Fort Yargo State Park: Shelter A To The Old Fort, 20th March, 2015 (Part 2)

March 20th. (Continued from…) I’ve started to walk at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Georgia. One of my walks is from the Group Shelter A to the Old Fort and back. This is a rewarding walks for viewing wildflowers.

The route which I described here. It was still early in the season and I didn’t expect to find much in the way of plants but the weather forecast was for fog and I wanted to take some photographs along the lake shore in the fog. 

A small, but striking shield lichen. 

This was one of the most intriguing lichens on the rocks. The fruiting cups were quite shallow, like little dishes rather than deeper cups. 

One of the few boulders covered with Resurrection Fern (Pleopeltis polypodiodes). 

At first glance, this lichen looked more like a mold. I photographed it but… 

it wasn’t until I got home and processed the image, that I could see that it was covered with flat, irregularly shaped gray fruiting bodies. It was clear that I was going to have to come back better prepared to photograph the many lichens on the rocks in this area. 

The challenge will be identifying them. There is a reference text, Lichens of North America, and a website contains illustrations of approximately 1,275 species of lichens. The lichens on the website are organized alphabetically rather than e.g., by whether they grow on wood or rock. Sounds like I will spend many happy or frustrating hours browsing in an attempt to identify the lichens I’m photographing.

I found the patch of Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor) leaves near the end of the Rock Garden trail. The leaves were still in good condition. 

Then on down the trail to the Old Fort. 

Along the way, I found several trees – one in particular – with a lichen with black fruiting bodies. 

One intriguing sighting was a fallen log covered with orange ‘growths’ which may be a lichen. Only one log showed these growths. 

Turning around, I walked back along the upper trail.

I examined the trunks of several trees by the trail that had shield lichens and found one that had fruiting bodies. This was an unusual find. Many trees have lichens but few of these have fruiting bodies. 

Back at the fishing area and looking south. There was still a hint of fog, adding atmosphere to my walk. 

Back in the fishing area, I found Elliott’s Blueberry (Vaccinium elliottii) stems with blooms. 

To my shame, I thought the green color on the water was due to an algal bloom. Only, when I returned a week or so later, did I realize that this was the beginning of the annual pine pollen season. 

Back down to the trail above the cliff, and...

towards the first bridge.

Then I saw these big buds but, since I’m not too familiar with trees, I’d have until my next walk to identify this tree. 

Finally, back to the disc golf course, and...

the final section of trail to the parking lot. 

As expected, I didn’t see too much in the way of wildflowers but the signs of Spring and new life were there. I did find that the Rock Garden is a wonderful source of lichens that I had not appreciated fully previously.

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