This morning, I met botanist and author Ruth Schottman near one edge of the Mohawk River State Park. The park and its trails cover 107 acres in the vicinity of Lock 7. We'd only gone a few steps when we stopped to examine the blossoms of a catalpa tree. Ruth knows about the trees and plants that grow here. I could listen to her all day.
Ruth had graciously offered to give me a tour of the area. I was especially eager for her to show me the easy labeling system that volunteers are using here to identify trees growing in the preserve.
Printed on a home computer, these labels are made on something akin to a bumper sticker, both sturdy and waterproof, yet lightweight. Volunteers use a heavy-duty stapler to affix the labels. The labels are low-cost and so can be easily replaced as needed.
The Thursday Naturalist group that does this work in Niskayuna will be coming to Malta this week. They will help us to get started labeling trees at the Malta Ecological Park. I think this system will work well for us.
A single Yellow Hawkweed blossom was an opportunity for a flower identification lesson for me. But when I got home and studied my guide, I still could not tell Hawkweed from Two-flowered Cynthia. I will have to keep working at this.
Madam Snapper became a startling obstacle halfway down a steeply eroded trail. We decided to clamber back up the muddy slope and go around her.
The detour provided an opportunity for Ruth to show me New Jersey tea...
... and the delicate yellow flowers of bush honeysuckle.
The reptiles just kept showing up. We had already seen a number of toads and frogs, in addition to the very large turtle. Here, a medium-sized garter snake was enjoying a sheltered sunny spot.
We came out from the woods onto a bike trail near Lock Seven of the Erie Canal system. The Mohawk River seemed a little calmer today.
Just off shore, a great blue heron stood quietly fishing. Can you see him?
Here's a cropped close-up, below.
I can't remember for certain what kind of dogwood this was. Gray dogwood, maybe? I really need to do more studying and better note-taking.
My camera couldn't capture the amazing emerald color of this ebony-winged damselfly. It was so lovely basking there in the sun.
We spotted one more garter snake along the bike trail as we headed back to our cars.
Thank you, Ruth Schottman, for a beautiful morning. You are a patient teacher and a genuine inspiration.