Wandering The Edge

It's true what they say, you know, the best laid plans do often go awry. For instance, this morning I had planned to go along on Treebeard's monthly Saturday morning paddle on the pond. He had five canoes signed up and I figured I'd go along for the ride -- afterall, I wasn't on duty at my park this weekend. When I go on these paddles I usually act as look-out, scanning ahead as Treebeard talks to the participants. That way I can alert him to any wildlife or plants of interest and he can concentrate on answering the questions of the visitors without worrying about missing something. My plan was to paddle as little as possible, do a lot of looking, and take some pictures to share with you. Alas, twas not to be.

Since these Saturday morning adventures are conducted at a leisurely pace on flatwater, Treebeard does not require that the participants have any prior paddling experience. Still, it is rare that he gets a boat that is occupied by two absolute novices, but even when he does it is usually not a problem. He will just spend a few minutes going over the basics and offering tips before the boats head out. We are both certified canoe instructors and can usually size up a paddler pretty quickly once we are on the water. It didn't take us long to determine that this particular boat was not going to be able to keep up with the group.

I like for everyone who ventures out onto the pond to have a good experience. I also like for everyone to feel like a successful paddler since, for me, canoeing is such a rewarding and pleasurable activity. It is particularly important to me that first-time female paddlers feel successful because I want them to feel secure and confident on the water. Sexist? I don't think so. ;) Anyway, after a brief conference with Treebeard, I offered to "drive" the canoe that was having a problem. The boat's occupants readily agreed and got a quick lesson in musical chairs, canoe-style. The young man got into Treebeard's canoe and I got into the stern of the other boat, shifting the young woman to the bow seat.

The point of my rambling? Just to let you know that even though I was unable to take pictures on the pond as planned, I did spend a short while wanderering along the edge of a little peninsula that juts out into the pond. So here are some pictures from the edge...

A bed of netted chain fern, Woodwardia virginica.

Flowers of the Beauty-berry, Callicarpa americana, also known as French Mulberry.

Grape tube gall, Cecidomyia viticola. So what makes these impressive looking tubes? A little gall fly, known as a midge, lays an egg in the grape leaf. The grape leaf responds by producing this growth and the midge larva develops inside.

Sawfly boogie! These aren't caterpillars, they are sawfly larvae. Sawflies are in the same order (Hymenoptera) as ants, bees, and wasps. One distinction: sawflies don't sting. I'm not sure which sawfly this is -- still working on a positive ID.

Everybody dance now...
The sawfly larvae assumed defensive positions when I got too close. If you look closely you will note that they have 6 pairs of prolegs - the little stumpy legs behind the 3 pairs of true legs near the front. Caterpillars have 2 to 5 pairs of prolegs and each bears a little hook that is absent from the sawfly's prolegs.

Paper wasp (Polistes sp.) hard at work gathering wood fibers for nest material. It will make a little pulpy spit-ball, carry it back to the nest, and use it to build a new cell or add to an existing cell.

As I reached the end of the trail I spied a little brown eye peering at me from the underbrush -- one of the many rabbits inhabiting the point this season. With all the great horned owls, barred owls, bobcats, and grey foxes we have around here this little rabbit better watch its step!


Floridacracker said...

Gee Swampy,
You did pretty good for having to be helmsgal and shoot photos. Very nice.
Your sacrifice of photo freedom also allowed the canewbies to actually enjoy the trip too,
...which makes you a very nice person.

swamp4me said...

Aw, shucks, FC -- you're gonna make me blush.
I do try to remember we were all "canewbies" once...

Rurality said...

Wow I love all these pictures! I learn something new every time I read your blog. :)

eddie said...

very nice pictures,love the story about the boat ride, better luck next time, have a good day,

Eero said...

Grape Tube Gall! I love it! We see similar plant reactions here in AK---but nothing so, well, beautiful. Really great photography; thank you!

Ontario Wanderer said...

Is there a field guide for galls? I see many galls but know almost nothing about the majority of them.

Perhaps we need to do a monthly canoe adventure so we get our canoe out of the barn and into the water.

pablo said...

I wish I was along for the trip with you.