Sunday, August 05, 2007

Crowley's Ridge in late summer

It's been a dry few months in southeast Missouri. The acid seeps and springs of Crowley's Ridge are barely trickling these days, keeping the rich layer of ferns and mosses alive by a thread. After the spring burn, large stands of woodland sunflowers have appeared as well as a very unwelcome population of agricultural weeds who have capitalized on the open space in the woods. Late July on Crowley's Ridge was hot, but rich with scarlet tanagers, poison ivy and a handful of wildflowers. So, see! The shrubby Devil's Walking Stick in flower (left), Euphorbia corollata (the white compound flower whose common name I don't know), woodland sunflower (above), the great fern Thelypteris hexagonoptera, and the legacy of those fine, Crowley's Ridge soils, a field of rice that has played host to migrating stilts, dowitchers and egrets this week. Even though the rest of the area doesn't have any water, the federal government pays rice farmers to keep their fields flooded for the sake of the crop. The narrowmouth toads appreciate the water, too. They were calling all the way from Malden to Risco.

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