A summertime visit to Sapsucker Woods

Wednesday last, grandson Sam, three years old at the time, and I wandered the landscape, catching the sights of summer. Eventually, we visited Sapsucker Woods, a Cornell University nature preserve. There, a boardwalk over the swamp is a proven venue for frog spotting and, this day, we had some success.

We found this cooperative golden-eyed beauty calmly squatting and croaking.

In this 30 second clip, reflected light off the water surface captures proto-croaks that did not quite escape from the source. There is a successful and full croak finale.

Off the boardwalk, we took a short detour to view an elaborate cairn built of local rock by a famous artist. The dappled sunlight across the surface is especially enjoyable.

The Sapsucker Cairn, Andrew Goldsworthy

At the furthest extent of the preserve is this pond where the residents were notably raucous in this 30 second clip.

About this time the mosquitoes descended for a determined attack on Sam’s legs. “Itchy,” he said. Myself, protected by deet, they left alone. Sam’s Mom prepared him for the trip with natural mosquito repellent that was not up to the task. Next time we visit, Sam will wear long pants and sleeves fortified with deet.

Just before picking Sam up for a quick retreat, I caught this turtle encrusted in duckweed sunning on a narrow branch. The head is retracted for the moment, can you imagine someone wading through that muck to place a rock? It is possible, but I witnessed the head, so am absolutely sure.

Special thanks to blogger shoreacres for the identification of duckweed. In my original posting I called it algae.

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Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

Flowing water

Water flowing from glacial till

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.

Click me for better experience viewing the following video. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page. Note the replay icon (an arrow circling counter-clockwise.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Formed by Water


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