Saturday, May 23, 2015

Spring Walk At Fort Yargo State Park: Shelter A To The Old Fort, May 6th, 2015 (Part 1)

May 6th. 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 and document the wildflowers I see.

--> The route... which I described here, here, and here

Starting out on the trail on another sunny day.

More flower buds on the Strawberry Bush (Euonymus americanus) shrub on the lake shore had opened. Some flowers had finished blooming.

The deep red color on the Maple Eyespot Galls had turned brown.

The flower buds of the Redring Milkweed (Asclepias variagata) were developing nicely. It would still be at least a couple of weeks before the flowers open.

Approaching the first bridge…

A fallen Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) flower. The Tulip Poplar trees are so tall that it’s not possible to see them unless they fall to the ground.

The Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum) plants between a trail to the disk golf course and the main trail were still blooming.

As I moved along the trail towards the Eastern Sweetbush (Calycanthus floridus) bushes, I heard rustling in the leaves beside the trail and a lizard fled up onto a tree trunk. Usually, I’d expect to see a five-lined skink, but, at first, I couldn’t see anything at all. But then I spotted an…

Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus). The lizard didn’t have a pronounced pattern. It was a male; the blue color on its underside are visible in this photograph. Jim McCormic at Ohio Birds And Biodiversity has posted a photo that shows the pattern of the blue color on the underside of a male Eastern Fence Lizard.

The larger seedpod on the Eastern Sweetshrub was still developing; the smaller one hadn’t changed size indicating that it might not develop. I’ve never seen a sweetshrub seedpod so I’m hoping that this pod develops to maturity.

The Rattlesnakeweed (Hieracium venosum) plants on the trail approaching the cliff were in full bloom now.

Most of the flower stalks on the witch hazel still show no signs of developing seed capsules; one of the flowers at the left end of this cluster is definitely ‘bulging.’

I found this gall on the leaf of a young witch hazel bush near the cliff. It may be a developing Witch-hazel Cone Gall produced by an aphid, Hormaphis hamamelidis.

A ladybug was crawling on a nearby Mountain Azalea (Rhododendron canescens). This is the first ladybug that I’ve seen in the park this year.

Flower buds on a Pipsissewa (Chimaphila maculata). It looks like a lot of Pipsissewa plants will be blooming this year. 

I walked along to the point on the south side of the bridge to the Fishing Area. I was planning to take a photo looking towards the Fishing Area when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned and saw a…

snake swimming along the water a couple of feet out from the shore. Luckily my camera was set to be able to get one shot before the snake swam out of sight. This was a young snake - only about two-and-a-half feet long - and brightly patterned compared with most of the water snakes that I’ve seen around the lake over the years.

I figured it was either a Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon) or a Banded Watersnake (Nerodia fasciata) but decided it was probably the former. I submitted the photo to David Steen at Living Alongside Wildlife. The expert opinion is that this is a Southern Banded Watersnake (Nerodia fasciata fasciata) because the bands are continuous around the body to the belly; if it was a Northern Watersnake, the bands would be offset.

The photo I was about to take when the snake swam by. 

As I approached the bridge to the Fishing Area, I found a large…

five-lined skink, presumably a Five-lined Skink (Eumeces [Plestiodon] fasciatus) on the deck of the bridge. It was relatively unfazed by my presence as long as I moved very slowly. I was fascinated by its pose…

with one leg and foot flattened back against its side which gave it a somewhat relaxed pose. I haven’t been able to find any explanation for this pose.

The flower buds on the dogwood (Silky Dogwood [Cornus amomum]?) were still developing.

Flowers on the Green Arrow Arum (Peltandra virginica) were still developing. 

I walked around to where the Common Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) had been blooming. These had finished blooming, but now…

Needle-tipped Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium mucronatum) were now blooming and developing seedpods.

And then off into the Rock Garden… 
(To be continued…) 

Identification resources:
University of Georgia, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory 

 Related posts: 
- Spring Walk At Fort Yargo State Park: Shelter A To The Old Fort, 22nd April, 2015 (Part 2) 
- Spring Walk At Fort Yargo State Park: Shelter A To The Old Fort, 16th April, 2015 (Part 2) 
- Spring Walk At Fort Yargo State Park: Shelter A To The Old Fort, 10th April, 2015 (Part 1) 

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