Friday, August 22, 2014

A Week on Ponkapoag Pond

Our week at an Appalachian Mountain Club cabin on Ponkapoag Pond (only half an our from home, but very different from the city) brought a few nice surprises along with familiar sights.  This was our Second Annual stay--showing how quickly a tradition can be formed if enough of the family approve!  (Here is last years'.)

There is no potable water at AMC Ponkapoag, and the outhouses are pretty ripe at this time of the year, but even my wife loves coming here.  The cabins are available year-round for modest fees, campers often have years and generations of memories of the place, and most work is done by dedicated volunteers.  It's a bit of a community, really.  Those who enjoy society hang around the little dock at the pond's edge, while their children swim, boat or fish.  The pond is rather small and not very deep, and various water plants can make kayaking difficult in places, but it boasts a real Atlantic White Cedar Bog at the other end, and it is set in the beautiful Blue Hill Reservation.  It is a great place to enjoy fairly undisturbed forest, and socialize with others of like mind.

 A dragonfly making  a long visit to our outdoor table (shy his right rear wing)
allowed me to make use of Sidney Dunkle's Dragonfies through Binoculars.
I decided he was mostl likely a young male Eastern Pondhawk.

 I haven't figured out this lovely big fungus yet.
If it's a good edible, it would have made a whole family meal.

Walking the trail near the camp brought to light two kinds of Tick Trefoils (Desmodium)

My attempt to get a panoramic view of the pond by the camp.  
At least a dozen kayaks and canoes line the nearby shore.

My son and I kayaked to the far end of the pond on the second day, and I enjoyed the pond edge plants.

The foundation of any bog is Sphagnum, aka peat moss.
In sunny locations it can take on a "sunburnt" appearance.

A boardwalk maintained by volunteers allows egress to the entire quarter-mile distance through the bog to open water. The trees are Atlantic White Cedar, making this unusual among bogs.

 Bog Cotton (Eriophorum virginicum) is related to neither cotton nor grass;
it is a distinctive plant I've never seen outside of a bog.
Red-rimmed leaves of Round-leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia)mark a palm-sized 'insectivorous" plant characteristic of nutrient-deprived places like bogs.  Sticky hairs trap passing insects, which are captured not for food, but really for their nitrogen "fertilizer" potential.

 The parasitic vine Dodder (Cuscuta) is a plant that cannot make its own food
--its yellow color showing its deficiency in chlorophyll.  Instead it twines around other plants,
 absorbing nutrition through peg-like haustoria that are just visible in the photo. 

Open water at the end of the boardwalk.  Its possible to land a kayak there, 
but the landward end of the boardwalk is a nice two-mile stroll through forest.

Once off the boardwalk, I took the time to admire a cattail marsh
that has so far escaped invasion by Phragmites reed.

Birds playing aerobatic chase over the marsh reminded me of chimney swifts at home,
but turned out (after many attempts to photograph) I think to be Bank Swallows.

One rainy day meant our only meal indoors.

 The last day I rose early to take in the dawn and early morning.
I sat quietly for half an hour with this sky overhead.

I had seen enough dead trees without their bark to know that the grain often spirals,
but I'd never seen bark that peeled off in a spiral.

 A tiny lichen & moss garden that caught my eye as we walked around the last day.
The branching lichen on the left is (confusingly) called Reindeer Moss, though it is no plant at all.

 Boulders--many enormous--abound around the pond, reminders of glaciers that receded 12,000 years ago.
But some have now become decorated with plants such as this Common Polypody (Polypodium vulgare).

The afternoon sun breaks through and glows on the far end of the pond.

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