Thursday, October 28, 2010

Orono Bog

I recently took a vacation in Maine, in the autumn, with Cyndi ... and went to see my parents, the fall color, the ocean, and all the things I love. We arrived late at night, and spent the night at a motel in Bangor. The next morning my parents came to pick us up, and by my request, we headed right for the Orono Bog. This natural area has an interpretive boardwalk. And, good thing too, because a bog is an area formerly open water, now slowly filling in with decomposing moss and water-loving vegetation. Sometimes the mat of moss actually hides a pocket of open water, and one can punch through the surface to the mucky water below. The boardwalk bobs up and down as one walks on it, like a dock floating on water.

This is a unique vegetation community, and the boardwalk goes from hardwood forest to coniferous forest to bog. The photo above is the bog. The trees may look small, but they're stunted by the harsh, wet conditions and can be as old as the tall mature forest in the distance.

A Sharp-shinned Hawk flew overhead. Often raptors and accipiters course over the open area, seeking prey.

The tiny tree is called by many common names: hackamatack, tamarack, larch. Whatever you call it, it is a tree with needles that sheds the needles in autumn. Next to it are some tiny Black Spruce trees, the classic bog-dweller.

This Golden-crowned Kinglet was in the larger forest, along with nuthatches and chickadees.

A Hermit Thrush or two was seen.

And, my favorite, the carnivorous Pitcher Plant. It has downward pointing hairs on the leaves, which are fused together to form a structure that fills with water which the plant supplements with digestive enzymes. Insects fall into the water, can't escape, and are digested to feed the plant. Cool, huh?

My next blog posts, and there will be three, will show the area around the Taunton River estuary where my parents live, then Acadia National Park (one of America's most-visited), and finally the Maine woods. Stay tuned ...

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