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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