Monday, June 3, 2013

Ohio's most stunning orchid has arisen!

Last Saturday was a whirlwind of travel. I left that morning, and drove to Hastings, Michigan and Michigan Audubon's Otis Farm Bird Sanctuary. I was there to give that evening's program, which was, fittingly enough, on warblers as the event was the Cerulean Warbler Weekend. That was a lot of fun, and we found some interesting birds on the farm.
I really needed to be back in Ohio the following day, so about 9 pm that evening I hopped in the Jetta and jetted back south towards the Buckeye State. Finding myself near U.S. 68 and Rte. 33 at around 1 am Sunday morning, visions of Cedar Bog flashed through my mind. The Bog was not too far from this juncture, and its most spectacular botanical denizen should be starting to bloom. So I shot off down 68, and arrived at a very dark and deserted Cedar Bog parking lot around 1:30ish in the morning. With only the ghost of Terry Jaworski for company, I shut the car down and dozed off for a few hours. The dawn chorus of birds, including a loudly crowing Ring-necked Pheasant right behind the car, awoke me at dawn's first light and I packed up the camera gear and headed into the bog.
Bingo! The detour and crashing in the car paid big orchid dividends. A massive Showy Lady's-slipper, Cypripedium reginae, bursts from the cold wet mire of a small rill. If you've not seen these plants, do yourself a favor and visit Cedar Bog soon.

The slippers were just coming on, and probably won't reach their peak until next weekend. This big clump will resemble an orchid bush when all of those buds burst open.

PHOTOGRAPHY NOTE: I made this image, and the others, with my Tamron 70-200 mm lens (bolted to the Canon 5D Mark III). It's a fabulous lens, with a lightning quick 2.8 aperture. More importantly, this lens allows me to shoot the orchids without leaving the boardwalk, which is strictly taboo. Every year,  photographers, enchanted by the photogenic orchids, trample paths to the plants. Bad form. Just use a bigger lens, or zoom, or both. Sure, I would have loved to push that intruding willow branch on the right out of the shot, but I still think the image looks pretty good.

No matter what your camera rig, you'll be able to find some lady's-slippers near enough to the trail to capture some excellent images. This coming weekend will be excellent for the orchids, and I hope you can make a foray over to Cedar Bog to drink them in.

Showy Lady's-slipper is listed as a threatened species in Ohio, and is known from only a handful of locales. It isn't the only rarity at Cedar Bog, not by a longshot. This fen (it isn't really a bog) harbors what may be the richest botanical diversity per square foot of any habitat in Ohio. Over two dozen species of state-listed rare plants have been found, and once in the fen meadows, nearly every plant you clap eyes on is uncommon at best in Ohio.

If you would like to learn more about the rare plants of Cedar Bog, feel free to attend a program that I'm giving at Cedar Bog's fabulous new interpretive center on July 13 at 10 am. It's all about the rare flora of Cedar Bog, and I'll go into a bit of geological and botanical history in a PowerPoint program punctuated with lots of imagery of the "bog" and its rare inhabitants. Best of all, following that we'll head down the boardwalk and into Cedar Bog to experience its rarities firsthand, and learn a bit about botany. As a bonus, cool birds and bugs abound at that time of year, and we'll surely see threatened animals such as the Elfin Skimmer dragonfly and Seepage Dancer damselfly.


KaHolly said...

Stellar images of some little beauties, Jim!! Love to see them.

jaredmizanin said...

Ah, wish these were closer to home! Thanks for sharing, Jim.

zippiknits said...

i am soooo jealous. I have both camera envy and lens envy. But you share gorgeous shots, which makes you majorly cool.