right away this morning i noticed the weather was 20 degrees cooler at 75 degrees. without bothering to have breakfast, i got dressed and headed out to the assabet national wildlife refuge in sudbury. studying the trail map last week, i noticed some areas designated as bogs, which peaked my interest. from route 2A i turned onto 62 followed by 27 onto old marlboro road, where it hit the eastern edge of the NWR at trail junction 10. it's a weird spot, on one side of the road a large federal storage property, while residential homes on the other side. there wasn't any designated parking area but since i was on the motorcycle i stashed it by the side of the road and walked into the refuge.
less than half a mile on the trial i immediately noticed something different. it was something i could smell first before i could see it, a horrible sewer-like odor. through the trees i noticed the horizon was a pale green color, which was a duckweed-covered pond, what the map describes as "shallow marsh meadow." the nearly choke-inducing marsh stench was joined by the clove-like fragrance of blooming
swamp azaleas pepperbush. off in the distance a great blue heron silently flapped away.
despite the smell, it was a pretty amazing place. i knew there were marshes but i wasn't expecting to find a large duckweed pond. walking along the edge of the water set off a domino effect of frogs retreating into the pond, sudden splashes punctuated with alarming croaks and squeaks. there were all sorts of dragonflies as well, vying for territories and mates. there were even some of those near mythical dragonflies with 3"+ wingspans but they were too far away to photograph and never once stopped to perch.
there wasn't any new dragonfly sightings. the red meadowhawks have started to appear, which can only mean summer is drawing to a close as these are late season odonatas. the dragonfly with the prettiest wings are the twelve-spotted skimmers, with translucent patches of black and white markings.
clymene haploa is a new moth i haven't seen before. wood boring beetles (of which the locust borer belongs to), despite their destructive influence on native forests, have a pretty interesting appearance: if you check out its head, the eyes sort of wrap around the base of the antennae, forming a horseshoe shape.
there are many brown woodland butterflies with eyespots, but not all of them are the same. i identified a pearly eye for the first time. on the surface, they're almost identical to wood satyrs, except satyrs have two pupils per eyespot, while pearly eyes only have one pupil. wood nymphs can be distinguished by the pale yellow band in the forewings.
at a certain point the tree-covered trail came out to a small clearing. a segment of the path beyond was submerged. while deciding what to do next, i noticed a rustle of activity as a mother wood duck led her ducklings across the flooded road like a crossing guard with school children. they made it out to the pond and quickly swam away when they noticed me standing nearby, the ducklings overtaking their mother. (my last wood duck sighting was back in may; mandarin ducks are the only other species in this genus).
besides insects, there were a lot of wildflowers, several species which i've never seen before until now:
indian tobacco i identified from the last time i visited assabet (so it'd make perfect sense to see it again, just a few miles from where i spotted them originally). marsh st. john's wort is a new one for me. the tiny flowers might escape notice but closer inspection reveals very pretty and elegant blossoms.
i've never really noticed groundnut before. a member of the pea family, the flowers have a slight fragrance. ants seem to really love this plant, climbing all over it. it's my first sighting of blue vervain with its multiple columns of tiny purple flowers. knapweed i've seen before not it's not a very common flower.
the trail continued all the way to puffer lake, but instead i turned around to get back on the patrol road. on the opposite side of junction 9, according to the map, was where the bog was supposed to be. from the road i could see a grove of dead trees, a sure sign of marsh activity, if not an actual bog. there was also a protective wire fence, but it was in such disrepair that it wasn't difficult to hop over it.
since there wasn't a trail leading into the bog, i basically had to bushwhack my own way in order to find it. there was definitely something marshy going on, but it didn't look like a bog to me. i basically walked along a small esker embankment. on one side appeared to be possibly vernal pools, while on the other side there appeared to be just a large marsh area. i didn't see the sphagnum moss carpets, and neither did i see any indicative bog plant species, like cottongrass or pitcher plants. not wanting to get lost, i retreated back out onto the road (but before suffering a gash wound on my leg from a nasty thorn vine).
so even though i didn't find that bog, i think this was still a successful outing, just to see the duckweed pond. i definitely want to come back again and look for the bog one more time, but also to get some more dragonfly photos.
i stopped by my parents' place and took a shower. when they came home, we all left for my godmother's house for dinner.
during dinner i managed to find out some things about my 80 year old grandmother i never knew: she married my grandfather (a whampoa military academy air force pilot) in 1946 when she was just 19 years old in hankou, hubei (now called wuhan). at her engagement party she drank so much she had to be carried back home. the party was open invitation and so many "guests" showed up that her 16 year old sister had to go pawn a gold bracelet in order to have more money to buy food and drinks. her first child - my eldest aunt - was actually born in qingdao, china (my grandfather was stationed there). she left for taiwan in 1949, the aftermath of the chinese civil war. she end up having 5 more children, who are all now scattered either here in boston, california, or in taiwan.