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  • Writer's picturemariagross

Findings on a Training Patrol

On Sept 12, I met with Gloria Brennan and Sheila Drinkwater, 2 new patrollers this season, for their first water-training. We met at Gloria’s whose home is in zone 4, just south of where Rick Blank lives. Unfortunately it got to be too windy but we were able to start in sheltered waters (grid #3157) next to Blueberry Island. They got a very quick understanding of some techniques we can use when we patrol. Sheila lives off of the lake, has a kayak and is ready to go wherever she can put-in.

On Sept 20th I invited Sheila to patrol So Cove with me on the one day the weather cooperated. It was the chance I was waiting for to be able to patrol there without turbid waters caused by the storms. We patrolled So. Cove from the put-in up into the mouth of Snow Brook then north along the east side of the zone into Smith cove, up to grid #263 & 264.

Again, So Cove proved to offer an excellent wide collection of native plants to find, touch and identify. Here are some of our finds:

#1 Along the last part of Snow Brook (grid 18) and then a bit north in grids 31 and 101, Sheila and I found stunningly abundant thick clusters of a native pondweed that Amy had initially identified a few weeks ago as Bidens Beckii. But, as of yesterday, she has identified it as “grassy spike rush with algae clumps attached, likely a mix of diatoms.”

FYI: Amy spoke of diatoms. That is defined as minute planktonic unicellular or colonial algae with silicified skeletons and that can explain the two different directions that Amy took with her identification. In the photos below you can see fine clusters of either very tiny “branches” or they could be seen as “silicified skeletons” around the plant stalks. Much like the grassy spike rush, I read that Bidens Beckii is also a single very thin stem with tiny branched, submersed leaves that radiate like a fan, with absolutely no petioles, and dissected into threadlike segments. Because of the amount of thick algae present in the water these days I will be curious to check those clusters out next season and see how these plants look in their new growth.

#2 Also found 2 very short pondweeds in grid 30-31 that “popped out” amidst the dark green vegetation. Its leaves had a golden red-brown color and a distinct leaf arrangement of 2 leaves per node (all of their edges and surfaces were smooth.) Amy identified it as the native plant, Ludwigia, a water purslane but she did not name which variety. Go Botany offered a type (Ludwigia palustris) that appears to be the only one with foliage that takes on a distinct red color when exposed to the sun. These plants were right in the middle of the channel with no tree coverage remotely possible. No flowers were visible but they might show up next season. Water-primrose appears to be a common name for the species.

#3 Just as a point of information: I needed to clarify for myself that the multitude of tall and relatively flat blades of grass that grow straight up out of the water alongside the shoreline is of the Sedge family. On page 12 of the Native Plant ID the adage of “sedges have edges” proves helpful here + that sedge cross-sections are triangular. This blade's cross-section offers the triangular shape of a “flattened M.” (Photos below.)

#4 We also came upon several significantly large clumps of very bright green Filamentous algae (approx. 2 ft long.) It felt surprising to find so much at this time of year. But that said, we also had many sightings during this patrol of new light green growth of Bladderwort intermedia. Tim has seen them in Paige Brook and then recently we both saw them in Pennacook Cove. Amy confirmed that sightings of new plant growth are normal for this time of year as are remnants of insect hatches and molt casings floating on the surface of the water. They happen throughout the season.

#5 Poking about the smaller recesses just east of So Cove’s put-in Sheila found a very light green delicate blob of Orphydium in the shallow water up against the shore. It was almost the size of a golf ball and wasn't easy to pick out because the color was so faint, but she nailed it!

#6 Lastly, the several square feet mass of soft ruby-red Native water-milfoil (M. humile) is still to be found right next near the Smith’s dock in grid 263. Just has a magical feel to it.

Row #1 Blades of sedge with "flatten M" cross-section

Row #2 Ludwigia, a water purslane

Below: Grassy spike rush with algae clumps attached, likely a mix of diatoms vs possible Bidens beckii

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