Hard on the defunct gravel pit of the northwest side of the preserve is the deposit of glacial rocks washed to some extent by melting ice the former owners of the pit were turning over for profit with the averted result of destroying the water sources for the ecosystems of the future preserve.
The deposit is called a kame. Kames are the obverse of kettles, formed with an enormous remnant of glacial ice melts in place leaving a substantial depression. A kame is formed when earth gathers in a depression formed by meltwater running over a glacial surface. When the glacier melts (in this area the ice wash a mile high), the washed earth is left as a steeply sided pile we experience as a hill.
Water flowing beneath glaciers forms the long, ridged hills, eskers, we explored in yesterday’s post.
Well formed, sinuous, graded on both sides, eskers can be mistaken for man-made earthen structures, such as railroad embankments. Here is an example, nine-tenths (0.9) of a mile long substantial enough to direct the flow of Fall Creek. On entering the Malloryville esker bed the stream makes a right angle turn.
Here we are at the foot of the primary esker of Malloryville Preserve (it is marked as such on the information placard of this series first post). The slope to the right is the esker. A swamp lies to the right.
This video provides a better feeling for this esker.
Two kettles of the preserve represent a pond and, below, a bog. Here is a photograph from the observation platform using the IPhone 7. I brought along the Canon dslr and 100 mm “macro” lens for the stars of this show…..
….purple pitcher plants (scientific name: Sarracenia purpurea). In past years, the central observation deck cut-out, hosted healthy pitchers. Today, invading high bush blueberries from the bog margin, crowded out the pitchers and the only flowering plant were among the grasses 8 to 10 feet away. My goal was photographing the extraordinary flowers.
Each flower rises from the base on a strong stalk. Here are the pitchers, also called “turtle socks”, flooded with sunlight.
A flower unlike any I have experienced, like the carapace of an insect, the reproductive element underneath a hood.
The posterior, there are only bracts.
I have, somewhere, macro images of the pitcher, with the downward facing hairs. Brought the wrong lens to capture this at a distance.
Amazingly swamp, fen, bog, marsh can all be experienced during a thirty minute walk within this preserve. Here we are traversing a swamp …
…buoyed along on planking from recycled plastic.
The founders of this place, from a dairy farming family, strove for years to protect the water sources from encroachment by development, primary a duplicate of a gravel pit found on the other side of the Fall Creek valley.
This former acidic rainwater, percolating through glacial till, is buffered and chemically altered to create these multiform environments.
Water, flowing quietly, almost soundlessly, with powerful effect.
Let’s digress from our exploration of Iquique, Chile for this attraction local to the Finger Lakes Region of New York State, an environment diametrically opposed to the Atacama desert. The Preserve at Malloryville opened 1997, eleven years after we moved to our home our home on Fall Creek (see header photograph).
The correct name is the O.D. von Engeln Preserve at Malloryville. I knew this name from his Finger Lakes geology book obtained from the library and read closely in the early 1990’s. It helped me understand the landscape among which our home was set, in 5 minutes walking distance from the future location of the preserve.
The text from the above information placard at the preserve entrance says it all:“Wetland habitats are shaped by the water that supplies them: the amount, how it moves, and the minerals it carries. Malloryville’s eskers, kames and kettles control the rate of delivery of water to the surface and suffuse it with varied concentrations of minerals. As ground water bubbles to the surface at the base of these hills, distinctive wetland habitats form, each with its own unique community of plants. The preserve’s intense concentration of bog, fen, marsh and swamp habitats is the direct result of ground water moving through this unusually complex array of glacial features.
Before the preserve was opened I was familiar with the landforms described in the above placard. My son and I did his first camping on top of an esker outside our front door. We enjoyed hiking along Fall Creek.
To be continued…..
Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
This January 2005 morning dawned cold, the risen sun low to the south of a forested esker ridge, as I suited up for this long planned for photograph. A Sony DSC-F828, a UV filter and tripod were all I needed to capture this. That camera model has a integrated flex lens. I needed to stabilize the lens to achieve this image clarity, depth and sharpness.
The shimmering gloss was achieved by waiting until the sun was above the ridge, shining light shafts through the trees, lighting the water obliquely.
As late as January the stream carries enough heat to create a fog or mist as the air chills after sunset. This causes twigs to frost up to create those white stick figures on the far bank. Snowfall from the previous day clings to trees.
Fall Creek freezes from the bottom up. First the water smoothed boulders accumulate a glaucous ice coat. Slowly moving water freezes from the edges, in stages, the middle stage an ornate filagree. The stream narrows downstream where the surface ice first joins. As the year progresses through February the creek gradually recedes under the ice, replaced by an ice road.
What is an esker ridge? As the last glaciers melted 10,000+ years ago, the channels carrying meltwater and sediment, under the glaciers, deposited these winding ridged hills. One of the outcomes was the channel of Fall Creek was altered to flow through the field of eskers among which, in the 19th century, a dam and water mill were created. It made barrels and furniture. My former home, in this photograph, was converted from the workshop of that mill.