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July Urban Nature Walk at Ponkapoag Bog

In April Urban Nature Walk went to Ponkapoag Pond. Some folks stayed for four or five hours, finally making it to the bog. Alas, I had to leave after 2 hours. Friends of mine (locals I call the "nature friends") found out I'd never been to the bog and were horrified. Finally enough things came together and I planned for the July walk to approach Ponkapoag from the opposite side so we would get to the bog quicker. Even before we got to the bog, it was a very different walk than the one we took in April. For one thing: mushrooms!

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These little teeny guys were right by the trailhead (which is right off of rt 93). They look very similar to mushrooms we've seen at Cutler Park--we haven't identified them to species, but Alexis named them "Spaghettio mushrooms."

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This mushroom emerged but dried out before it could open properly, splitting along the skin of the pileus. A sprig of moss took a ride up on the cap as well.

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A warty Amanita, seen from above.

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Dead logs along the path were studded with British soldier lichens.

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These gorgeous goblet waxycaps were abundant as we neared the bog. They seem to love the peat moss habitat.

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This white cedar bog is a rarity in our area; a very special ecosystem. My friends were right to be horrified that I hadn't been here yet.

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The boardwalk was well above the moist ground but sometimes the water level tops the wood. Here a wet log at the base of the boardwalk is studded with lemon drop mushrooms Bisporella citrina.

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And then, one of the things that makes this bog so very special, is the presence of carnivorous plants. This pitcher plant was the first one I've ever seen in the wild. I am stunned that it is in Massachusetts.

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There were dozens of them, every direction we looked in the bog.

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Swamp azalea lines the boardwalk, and many of them are decorated with these white galls, made by the fungus Exobasidium vaccinii.

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There was much discussion about the varying amount of red versus green in the pitchers and sundews.

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There were thousands and thousands of sundews, and many of them were in flower.

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The landscape opened up at one point, looking very subarctic--reminds me of Greenland or Alaska, while someone else said it looked just like Finland.

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It surely looks like no place I've ever seen in Massachusetts before.

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The boardwalk ends at Ponkapoag pond itself. Barn swallows were hawking insects at the surface. The silence here, so close to the city, felt sacred.

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A spider built a web on these mushrooms, preserving a puff of brown spores.

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Better than a spore print!

Thunder began to roll as we came back along the boardwalk. Just as we stepped out of the bog back into the forest the sky opened up and we walked back to the cars in a downpour. The group of nine scattered into three groups according to how quickly we each wanted to get out of the rain.

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So our group selfie is only a third of the total, but it's pretty epic.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 28th, 2014 11:07 pm (UTC)
So cool! I do wish I could have made it, but I was a couple hundred miles away. :P

Those 'shrooms *do* look like Spaghettios!
Jul. 28th, 2014 11:26 pm (UTC)
I gather that you had a pretty great time anyway! :)

We totally should go back there and check this stuff out again, it's really alien to what I expect about the Bay State.
Jul. 29th, 2014 12:33 am (UTC)
I would love to!
Aug. 4th, 2014 04:40 am (UTC)
I thought pitcher plants were tropical. How did they get there, I wonder, an how do they survive the winter?
Aug. 4th, 2014 09:32 am (UTC)
As it turns out, they aren't! They require a habitat with nutrient-poor, high acid soil, so this bog is perfect.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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