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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rediscovering a Rare Orchid After 50 Years - Green Swamp

Green Swamp and Brunswick County, NC Fieldtrip - June 16th, 2013

After leaving Tram Road(see previous post), I met Jim Fowler at the parking lot next to the borrow pit(also known as the pond) north of Supply on Hwy 211. He was photographing several different color forms of milkweeds growing along the roadside so I walked over and took a shot of the pond. The light was just right for a nice reflection composition.

Midday pond reflections
Our first stop was Big Island to find the rare Eaton's lady's tresses (Spiranthes eatonii), which had been seen by another photographer one week earlier. According to records at the NC Natural Heritage Program, this species was first recorded in Brunswick County in 1958 by Albert Radford and has not been officially located in the county since. 

Finding these plants amongst the tall summer vegetation takes a sharp eye and persistence. The tiny flowers 1/8" or so long bloom on a short(12" or less), wiry stems. They are easily overlooked. Not the most photogenic plant by any means, but l was excited to see it in person. To really appreciate the beauty one must see a good closeup of the flowers.

Spiranthes eatonii (Eaton's Lady Tresses)

After spending time photographing this orchid we wondered around the savanna to see what else was in bloom. Venus flytraps and pitcher plants were scattered throughout the savanna along with a few Calopogon orchids.

Big Island Savanna 

Calopogon tuberosus (Grass-pink Orchid)

Dionaea muscipula (Venus flytrap) flowers

Jim photographing orchids in Big Island

In another section of Big Island near a weather station we found another rare plant the savanna indigo bush or Amorpha confusa. The blooming season starts now and will continue into August.

Savanna Indigo Bush

Closeup of the flowers

Jim suggested we visit Myrtle Head Savanna, a preserve owned by The Nature Conservancy(TNC), to check out pale grass-pink(Calopogon pallidus). That proved to be an excellent choice. TNC did a recent burn in the preserve and in years past when a burn was done in late spring, a bloom explosion of pale grass-pinks occured a few weeks later. We found hundreds of blooming plants ranging in color from pink to solid white. Except for the swarm of hungry mosquitoes and the constant wind, it was quite a pleasure to photograph these beauties. Below are three examples of the many color forms this species can have.

Calopogon pallidus pink

Calopogon pallidus  light pink

Calopogon pallidus white

Our last stop was at a favorite site along Hwy 130 where a host of orchids species and color forms grow. This roadside near Shallotte, NC is a haven for not only orchids, but for sundews, Venus flytraps and other native flora. Today we hit the jackpot with several color forms of Calopogon tuberosus. Venus flytraps were numerous and a carpet of sundews(Drosera capillaris). Jim pointed out a huge flytrap with traps measuring close to 2" long! 

Venus flytrap with huge traps

 Calopogon tuberosus  deep pink

Calopogon tuberosus  back view

Calopogon tuberosus white form

A fabulous ending to a day of photographing native wildflowers of North Carolina. I think there are still more “discoveries” to be made in the biological preserve called the Green Swamp.

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All images and content are Copyrighted © Kelvin Taylor

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Rediscovering a Rare Orchid After 50 Years - Tram Rd Stop

Green Swamp and Brunswick County, NC Fieldtrip - June 16th, 2013

I met up with my photography friend Jim Fowler on Sunday to photograph native orchids and other wildflowers in the Green Swamp and surrounding area. We got word that a orchid Spiranthes eatonii, which hadn't been seen since the 1950's, was spotted by another photographer the previous week. It was a species I was unfamiliar with so I jumped at the opportunity to go see it. 

Jim was due to arrive around 11:00 at the pond along Hwy 211 so I left home early and made a stop at one of my favorite sites Tram Road in Duplin County. Here is where the thread-leaf sundew(Drosera filiformis) was discovered a few years ago. This is a rare plant in NC. Roadsides are not places most people would stop to look for for rare plants, but they can be very rich in botanical diversity.

 Tram Road in Duplin County, NC 

 Dense vegetation along the roadside makes it hard to see the sundews.

 Thread-leaf sundew with flower spikes

 Pink flowers of thread-leaf sundew

Orange milkwort (Polygala lutea)
common wildflower of the coastal plain

After spending some time photographing the sundews and other interesting plants, I headed to our meeting place at Green Swamp.  

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All images and content are Copyrighted © Kelvin Taylor

Pan-STARRS Comet and Crescent Moon

March 12, 2013
This is my first attempt at shooting Pan-STARRS comet with a thin crescent moon. Thanks Kevin Adams for the photo tips. This was shot from a open field near my house with a treeline above the horizon. Clouds lingered making me think I wouldn't see either the moon or comet, but the clouds broke enough to capture both. I wish I had been at a lake or pond to get a reflection of the sky. That would be the ideal scenic composition.
 Pan-STARRS comet with crescent moon
Canon G9, F/5.6, ISO 200, 1.6sec single exposure
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