Finding Something New in a Place I Know Well
My trip to New England was several weeks ago- but I wanted to do a final post about my last day there before I forgot about it. Before going boating, Leon and I took a quick hike up to Agassiz Rock to try to see the rare red-bellied tiger beetles. No luck, but I did take GPS coordinates and some better habitat photos.
The tiger beetles run over the open expanses of bare granite. I think we may have been a bit too early to see them- the Massachusetts data sheet that I have lists flight times in July and August.
Northern Cloudywing (Thorybes pylades) along the carriage road
That evening, we planned on taking my dad out for an early Father's Day dinner. We got back from boating with plenty of time to spare, and decided to go for a walk in the woods before dressing for dinner. There are old carriage roads all over the woods next to Dad's house, and I wanted to walk there and do some insect photography.
Way down one of the carriage roads, we saw an unfamiliar side trail into the woods. We decided to follow it for a while. I vaguely remembered it leading to a pond. It did- but not the pond I remembered. I was absolutely stunned to break out of the woods and find an absolutely gorgeous floating sphagnum bog.
Floating bogs form where sphagnum moss begins growing around the periphery of a pond. The moss forms a floating mat that thickens and begins growing towards the center of the pond. Eventually other plants, including shrubs and small trees, begin growing in the floating mat. Many floating bogs, including this one, retain open water at the center. They can be treacherous to walk on- it's possible to break through the floating mat and become trapped under it.
Sundew! (Drosera rotundifolia)
Sphagnum bogs are home to an amazing array of specialized plants, including orchids and carniverous plants like this sundew. We weren't dressed for slogging our way out into the soggy center (boots, or even hip waders are needed for that sort of thing), so we had to be content with looking in from the edges. I would have loved to have known this was there when I was growing up. I'll definitely have to go back. We were too early in the season to see if the rare bog copper butterfly can be found in this bog.