Saturday, July 5, 2014

Town Corner Cedars State Natural Area

Last weekend I needed to complete two breeding bird surveys in Marinette County.
Mourning Warbler, BBS Route 028, Benson Lake Rd.
Despite having to wake each day at 3:15 a.m., I deferred any sort of daytime nap in lieu of looking at plants, bugs and butterflies and visiting some of the nearby state natural areas in search of orchids and other interesting flora.  After completion of my bird survey along Benson Lake Road, I returned to an area where I had observed Pale Corydalis growing, a plant I've only seen once before.

Pale Corydalis, Benson Lake Rd.
In addition to this unique flower, the roadsides were teeming with these orange skippers and crescent butterflies. I believe all the orange skippers were European Skippers, an introduced species commonly found in the Great Lakes states. The crescent species is likely Northern Crescent based on location.

Probable Northern Crescent
European Skipper.
Following a late breakfast at the only diner in Amberg, WI, I headed to Town Corner Cedars State Natural Area to see what treasures I could uncover.

Town Corner Cedars State Natural Area

Town Corner Cedars is a northern wet mesic forest dominated by white cedar with a small lake at its center. The undeveloped lake is surrounded by transitional bog.

On this particular visit, the forest floor was covered in beautifully green sphagnum moss with a scattering of ferns and One-flowered Wintergreen.

One-flowered Wintergreen

As the forest transitioned to bog, Twin Flower and Liver-leaved Wintergreen were found in small clusters.

Liver-leaved Wintergreen
I then noted the first of what turned out to be an impressive density of  Round-leaved Sundew. The plants growing in dappled shade were greener than I've seen in this species, whereas those in full sunlight were a brilliant red.

Round-leaved Sundew
Round-leaved Sundew

Among the sundew, Cranberry and Pitcher Plant were in bloom.



Pitcher Plant

Reaching the bog I was hoping to be greeted by a meadow of Grass Pink and Dragon's Mouth Orchid. However this was not the case, I was able to find a single Grass Pink plant, the first I've seen in Wisconsin.

Grass Pink Orchid
Dragonflies were happily hunting the bountiful mosquitos of the bog...

Frosted Whiteface
At the edge of the lake I spied what I surmised was Marsh Cinquefoil. Upon closer inspection I found I was correct. In nearing the plant I also discovered what turned out to be a Goldenrod Crab Spider, one of my cherished sightings of day. I braved the spongy floating mat of sphagnum to approach this beauty to capture some images.

Goldenrod Crab Spider on Marsh Cinquefoil
On my journey back to the car more interesting sights revealed themselves. My second prized observation of the day was the Yellow Coralroot I found growing on the edge of the open forest.

Yellow Coralroot
Under the shaded canopy, I started noticing numerous Wood Frogs.

Wood Frog
Having adjusted my sight image to looking for orchids of much smaller stature like the Yellow Coralroot, I noticed several Blunt-leaved Orchids blooming under the shaded canopy of the white cedar. This was my first time observing this orchid anywhere and a lovely way to conclude my excursion to this impressive state natural area.

Blunt-leaved Orchid

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