Busy, Busy Summer and a Swollen Bladderwort

Summer has been speeding along for me and it seems that I have had time for everything but blogging.  I have a backlog of photos to share, though, and I offer this interesting flowering plant today – the Swollen Baldderwort (Utricularia inflata).

Bladderworts are carnivorous herbs which feed on small aquatic animals and grow without roots in water or wet sands.  You may recall from my earlier posts that I am in the very early stages of learning about the plant (and especially the wildflowers) of the New Jersey pine barrens.  There are several examples of bladderworts which occur in the pine barrens and I found this one in a couple locations, Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area and Allaire State Park.

I hope you find the Swollen Bladderwort as facinating as I do and thank you for your patience as I gradually catch up on my postings.

One final comment for tonight.  Thank you very much to the reader who provided me with the correct name for the “Redbuds” shown in an earlier posts.  I now know that these are the flowers of the Red Maple (Acer rubrum).  Thank you!!!

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Late Winter Walk in Allaire State Park

Today was about as nice as you can expect for late winter around here, so I took advantage of the warmer temps and lack of rain to get out for a long walk around Allaire State Park.   The Park preserves the remains of an old iron works and makes for a really nice location for a day out.

Back in the early 1800’s James P. Allaire , a New York iron manufacturer and engine builder, purchased a large track of land here in New Jersey that became known as the Howell Works.  The Works were a rich source of bog iron at the time and became a major industrial center in the 1830’s.    James Allaire ultimately retired to the Howell Works and spent the remainder of his life in this house. 

Remains of a Blast Furnace at Allaire State Park

Bog iron forms in the swamps and bogs found throughout this part of New Jersey and blast furnaces like this one were used to extract the iron that used by Allaire’s factories in New York.   This is the only one left in the park and is protected from the weather by the structure built around it. 

This area was very isolated in the 1830’s, so the Howell Iron Works had to be a self-sufficent town.  Several of the building remain and are used as bakeries, gift shops, or as visitor centers.

The church survives and is still used for weddings and special ceremonies.  Notice the steeple is built at the rear of the building – the original building is located at the front.  When the church was expanded, the original structure couldn’t support the weight of the steeple, so it was added to the rear of the building.

The iron works needed lots of water and there are several canals like this one – Spring must be on the way.  The frogs are already laying eggs in several places throughout the canal!

And another sign of Spring – the skunk cabbages are pushing up everywhere throughout the swamps.

Some weekend birding

Palm Warbler
Palm Warbler

Bird activity is beginning to pick up around the Garden State with increasing varieties and numbers of  newly arriving migrant species are being reported every day.  I was able to get out for a relaxing walk through the park a couple weekends ago and captured some photos of early arriving warblers and sparrows.  Some of these little fellows are headed much farther north, like this Palm Warbler which breeds in extreme northern New England (US) and throughout eastern and central Canada.  These attractive warblers winter throughout the southern US and will pass through New Jersey before most other warblers even begin to arrive.

Chipping Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrows, or Chippies,  also arrive early but they are here to stay for the summer.   Chippies are one of the first sparrows I learned to identify when I started birding, and I’m always happy to see them come back in the spring.  They’re song,  an insect-like trill,  can be heard throughout New Jersey and especially in the Pine Barrens (where I spend a good amount of time hiking in the summer).

Pine Warbler
Pine Warbler

Pine Warblers show up at about the same time as Palm Warblers but, like the Chipping Sparrow, they are here to stay.  Pine Warblers are the best named bird that I know as they are almost always found in or very near pine trees.  Their song is similar to but a little slower and a bit more muscial than the Chippies, and is another one that I enjoy while hiking in the Pine Barrens.

I found all these little guys at Allaire State Park near Howell, New Jersey.   Allaire is a great spring birding location, mainly because it offers an island of great habitat for the birds to rest and feed in while they continue their migration north through the  highly developed eastern seaboard.  It is one of my favorite places.

Theme 43 – Celestial Bodies

Moon ove Allaire State Park
Moon over Allaire State Park

Once again, I am slowly getting caught up on all the wonderful photos on the 365 blogs.  If I haven’t commented on your photos lately, please be patient. I’ve just discovered Google Reader and with it’s help,  I’m working my way through everyones blog!  I’m sitting here covered in spackle dust and fresh paint, waiting for the latest coat to dry.  Almost done…a little touch up and that’s it!  Yesterday, with temperatures in the 70’s,  the weather was too lovely stay indoors and paint, so I headed over to a local park for some hiking, birding and photography.  Walking through the pines, I noticed the moon was still high and looked great against the blue sky.  I wasn’t sure how the photo would work out, but I’m pretty pleased with the result.  Ahhh…back to painting!

Theme 359 – Wheels

Wheels
Wheels

Not being very mechanically inclined, I marvel at the designs of antique machinery.  Seems like every little bolt and thing-of-a-bob has a very specific and important purpose and the whole thing would collapse if any one of them was removed.  I took this photo of a steam engine’s wheels while strolling through the train museum a few weeks ago.  The trains weren’t running and it gave me time to enjoy looking over their designs.