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Smooth Water, Mystery Globs, Deer, Vultures and Wildflars

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer fairly demands her due. You cannot let these crystal days pass unappreciated.

Just get some friends together, throw some canoes in the car and go. Rent a couple if you run short.

And watch what happens to your beautiful hardworking friends when they are rocked gently on the water.

Meander around with no purpose.

which turns out to be the greatest purpose of them all. 

Wonder at the weirdly firm jellied masses anchored on underwater snags.

Which, because you're a Science Chimp, you've already figured out are bryozoans, a species called Pectinatella magnifica. Only a few species inhabit freshwater (the vast majority are marine). They are the ecological analogs of corals, though they aren't related. They feed by extending tentacles into the water and snagging little critters floating past. Basically an intestinal tract, an oral opening, and a ring of tentacles, times several hundred, all glommed together in a cluster. Animals, not plants. Or something kind of in between. Why they're here, what if anything eats them, I dunno. One of nature's mysteries. Native, at least, and now spread from a primarily eastern distribution throughout the country's waterways. 
Bryozoans. Whaa? A life form that has simply never occurred to most of us, in full glory at North Bend.
We can only wonder. 

A juvenile Cooper's hawk bullets low over the water and snags his talons on a low limb. 

A doe works up a steep slope with her little family of twins.

Sun lights the fawn's ears and the blood vessels running through them. A little pink tongue flickers.

The doe casts one look back at me to tell me she sees me and they'll be moving along.

Cardinalflower lights up the muddy bank. I'm so glad to see it's found its way into the waterway.

We come upon a juvenile turkey vulture, newly fledged, who appears to be sitting on his (her) wing. Notice that he has yet to attain the red head of the adult turkey vulture. Also note the immaculate fresh feathers with pale fringes. Not a bit of raggedy on this bird!

Everyone expresses concern for it, hoping it isn't injured. I look at it for awhile and pronounce it fine. First off, a vulture with an injured wing is not going to be able to get 30' up into a tree. 
Second, baby vultures  do weird things, and if this baby were still in the hollow log or cave he was born in, he'd probably be flat out on his belly with his legs out behind him. 
He's just doing the best he can to relax while perched like a big boy. That apparently includes using his own wing as a bolster pillow. 

Weird as it looks. 

Sure enough, he rights himself and calmly preens his bolster pillow, then flaps easily off to another snag. Whew!! I don't know what I was planning to do about it if he was hurt. Something. But I knew he was fine.

How do you cap a paddle like that? You stop by a rose gentian meadow on the way out of Harrisville.

And exhort your friends to inhale that mysterious perfume, that nasal nirvana they emanate.
The contortions are fully worth it.


Your post a balm for the soul, for a few moments I am there out on the calm water, concerned for the vulture youngster, marveling at the sweetness of the gentian meadow. Thanks...

Posted by Gail Spratley August 28, 2014 at 1:41 PM

I wish we could hear and smell the things in your blog!

Bryozoan city here on the Gulf seagrass meadows.

I've seen Pectinatella magnifica in many Connecticut ponds in recent years! Thanks for sharing your picture of it (them).

Posted by Tom Baptist August 31, 2014 at 8:56 AM

Thank you for taking me on yet another trip. I so enjoy your photos, your blog, and your glimpse into the mysteries of nature.

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