Deep in the forest, the vernal pools are slow to melt. This one has been working on it for weeks, and there is still a ways to go. There is not much water underneath the ice so most of the melt has to happen at the surface. It does make for some interesting abstract images though. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 90mm equivalent. HDR mode. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farms, Wells, Maine.
There is not much moving in Maine’s forests during March other than chipmunks. I did see my first Red Squirrel two days ago, but not nearly close enough for a photo. This chipper appears to be praying at a mossy alter in the March sun, at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farms, in Wells, Maine. And well it might be, and well we should join it in prayer in these days of spreading Covid-19. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
It is the season when, deep in the Maple swamps of Southern Maine, the Skunk Cabbage, in all their twisted shapes and outrageous colors, emerge from the leaf litter. This is when Skunk Cabbage is at its most beautiful. This is the flower of the plant. The big green leaves will only appear later. The wikipedia article on Skunk Cabbage is full of all kinds of interesting information. Skunk Cabbage grows downward, with its stem under ground, and only the flower and leaves sticking up at the top of the stem each year. Even stranger, the Skunk Cabbage produces its own heat, 27 to 63 degrees above the ambient temperature, so that the flower can bloom in still frozen ground…in fact it can melt the ice around it. It is mildly poisonous to humans (its heat is generated by cyanide)…you would have to eat more than a little of the fresh leaves to kill you, but your mouth will burn and your throat close with even a few bites…though with the proper preparation it has been used both as food and medicine.
To me, the Skunk Cabbage is one of the first and most welcome sings of spring in southern Maine.
Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farms, Wells, Maine. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. HDR mode. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos…assembled in FrameMagic.
Native phragmites reeds at the edge of the marsh at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farms in Wells, Maine. I zoomed out to 600mm and shot the stand of reeds waving in the wind, and then sorted out the most effective shots. Going for the total abstract reality look. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
A bit of Silver Birch bark detail from Laudholm Farms in the crisp light of a clear early March afternoon. I like the way the texture of bark contrasts with the lovely bokeh of late winter, early spring forest. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
On our first really warm day of spring…hovering just under 70 degrees…this chipmunk at Laudholm Farms in Wells, Maine, was pretty full of himself, feisty even. He was not sure he was going to give me the right-of-way on the boardwalk through the lower woods along the Rachel Carson NWR border…though he did finally take the leap off the edge and into a pile of brush. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos and assembled in Framemagic.
A Chipmunk on the boardwalk through the Maple Swamp at Laudholm Farms (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve), in Wells, Maine. The chippers are just beginning to be seen out most days here in Southern Maine. This one held this pose for at least a full minute as I took photos. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
There are always a few “clusters” of Grass Pink Orchids (when there are Grass Pink Orchids at all), and it is common for one plant to have several blossoms, but this year in the remnant bog at Laudholm Farms the orchids seemed uncommonly clustery and particularly prolific. And who can object to such a display, especially when dealing with a beautiful flower that, due to lack of habit, is becoming rare? Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent (top panel) and 62mm (bottom panel). Macro mode (in the Scene Modes). Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.
Oh yes, I am going to inflict another Grass Pink Orchid from the bog at Laudholm Farms on you this morning…this one with a visitor. The visitor is, I think, one of the Hover Flies. The wiki on Grass Pink Orchids, which I will warn you has no supporting citations, says, among other things, that the Grass Pink Orchid is all show and no go when it comes to insect pollinators. It makes no nectar and very little pollen to attract insects. It just looks good, and those little yellow/white filaments are obviously insect bait. It is often found in association with other pink flowers that do reward pollinators, and therefore might get a free ride. The wiki also says that the flower “snaps shut” around the insect, forcing it to crawl out between the reproductive parts and hopefully pollinate the flower. I will admit I have never seen that happen, and the flower showed no signs of snapping shut on this hover fly…so, unless confirmed by someone who knows better, I am somewhat doubtful of the snapping shut bit. In looking back through my photos I do see some blossoms folded in on themselves, but I have always assumed they were just opening…not that they had bugs trapped inside. Who knows? (No really, if you know, let me know!). Sony RX10iv at 600mm optical with enough Clear Image Zoom to fill the frame. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
I apologize in advance, but you are probably going to have to endure several days of Grass Pink Orchid posts (with maybe a few Rose Pagonias thrown in. 🙂 I rode down to Laudholm Farms yesterday, on a somewhat foggy, misty morning, as a front came through bringing rain, to see if the Orchids were in bloom in the little remnant bog they have preserved in the lower fields at Laudholm. They were…both Rose Pagonia and Grass Pink. And, I have not seen a bloom like this year’s in all the years I have been watching this little bog. There were many clusters of both orchids…half a dozen to a cluster…and the total number of blooming plants had to be above 50…and that is just what I could easily see from the boardwalk. Last year I found only a few Rose Pagonias and only 2 Grass Pinks. What a difference a year can make. The Grass Pinks were fresh, so very purple pink, and the subdued light helped to bring out the intensity of the color. I probably said this last year (and maybe the year before) but they really need to come up with a better name for this orchid than “Grass Pink.” The Greek generic name is “Beautiful Beard”, but this is not, upon reflection, much better. It is, I think, one of the most beautiful bog orchids I have seen. It is also relatively unique in the orchid world because the stem twists to present the flower upside down, with the tongue at the top. There is more of interest here…but I don’t want to tell you everything today, as I have more pics for tomorrow. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm optical equivalent with enough Clear Image Zoom to fill the frame. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.