Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ponkapoag bog

A few days ago I wrote a post about my second visit to Ponkapoag pond - a warm and peaceful summer day with crayfish, dragonflies and the scent of Summersweet. My first visit to the pond occurred earlier this year and was no less magical. Ponkapoag pond has a bog area with a long boardwalk through the swampy area, where you can see many rare and even endangered plants. My son was on a mission to see some carnivorous plants, and we were told that this was the place to go.

The name Ponkapoag is of course of native American origin, although the pond itself was built in 1940 as a way to control water and flooding.

On a beautiful June day we took a walk along the old planks, some of them rocking and swaying under our weight.

The vegetation was dense all around. Red maple, white Atlantic cedar, often with witches brooms disfiguring the old branches.

This tree carried a berry I mistook for Serviceberry. It didn't taste very well!

The boardwalk carried us longer and longer into the swamp.

By the side of the planks we saw highbush blueberries, Sweet pepperbush and swamp azalea, some still in bloom.

On the swamp azalea I saw many examples of this strange growth, sometimes bell-shaped and hanging from a leaf, sometimes just a bulgy swampy lump.
 Closer to the ground we saw plants like Arrowhead

and leatherleaf
Aquatic plants in the water, which was full of vegetation.

Looking up, the old Atlantic cedar trees.

Eventually came a clearing and the boardwalk continued under open skies.  The landscape was wide open.

 Some condition made the sphagnum moss turn red in patches.

I have many mourning doves at my backyard feeder every year and I have seen them as slightly anxious flock birds, waiting for me to throw some feed on the ground for them, flying away at the least provocation. To see it here made me feel it has a wilder side to it, which it won't show us while living in the city.

The light that day was special. The open sky had a powerful effect on me, of peace and happiness.

Out in the open the bog hosted many different plants.

This orchid is called grasspink. Some regular visitors to the bog said they had never seen it before.

This is also where we saw the sundew - the pretty carnivorous plant my son was eager to see, and above all, feed.

The sundew came in both red and green - if it was because of the same phenomena that colored some of the moss red, or if they were different species I don't know, but they did match their surroundings perfectly. 
We also saw some pitcher plants, attracting insects who then get trapped inside the liquidfilled cups and slowly get dissolved to feed the plant some extra nutrients.

 Some ants living dangerously - or maybe they are very aware of the dangers?

The boardwalk ended here at the beautiful pond.

 At this end of the walk there were plants such as alder


and sweetgale.

Returning on the path gave us more views.

Lots of birds were singing during the time we were there.

An old plank

 Maleberries typical little seedheads

Red maple seedling, seemingly taking on the red hue from the surroundings.

 Sheep laurel is mountail laurel's bog cousin. It's toxic to live stock but out here it's free to grow.

Tired, muddy and very happy explorers on the way home.