Saco Heath 7/1/2014

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Sheep Laural still in bloom along the boardwalk, ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8, Sony NEX 5T

Saco Heath is a remnant Peat Bog, the southern-most in Maine, near the town of Saco. It is owned and managed (and protected) by the Nature Conservancy. For many years there has been a trail in through the wet woods and a boardwalk across the bog itself. Over the past 2 summers, a Volunteer America grant and matching funds have rebuilt much of the bog section of the boardwalk. In early spring the Rhoda and Sheep Laural blooms along the boardwalk. In July you look for Pitcherplant and bog orchids. In August the high-bush blueberries are ripe and bird life is at its peak. In Autumn, the trees and bushes take on color. It is a wonderful place in any season.

On July 1st, I drove up to the Heath in mid-morning and spent a few hours walking the boardwalk and the trails. I was carrying the Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom, the Sony NEX 3N with the ZEISS Touit 50mm f2.8 macro, and the Sony NEX 5T with the ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8.

Right out of the parking lot is one of my favorite stretches of forest in Maine. It is a wet forest, with lots of lush ferns and undergrowth, and short sections of boardwalk of its own to keep your feet dry as you hike into the bog, and it is always full of life.

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Entering the Preserve through the wet forest. ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8, Sony NEX 5T.

Most of the shots in the slide show are with the ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8. The obvious macros are with the ZEISS Touit 50mm macro.

Once you reach the bog, things open out. This is a authentic Peat Bog, formed when Peat (mostly decayed Sphagnum Moss, but also a variety of other wetland plants) fills in a glacieral pond. The Peat in the Saco Heath is hundreds of feet deep, and completely saturated with water. The super-acidic environment favors only a few plants besides the moss. There is an excellent Nature Conservancy brochure here.

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Pitcherplant. The cups fill with acid water and trap insects with dissolve to feed the roots.

The Pitcherplants were well grown and in flower, but the flowers were a bit past their prime. When they rebuilt the boardwalk (a very necessary improvement) the Pitcherplants nearest the boardwalk had to be sacrificed, but there are still some within reach of a telephoto. These shots (including the one above) are with the 75-300mm zoom on the Olympus OM-D E-M10 at 600mm and 1200mm equivalent.

The Rhodora of the spring are were well past on the first of July, but there were still a few Sheep Laural plants in bloom.

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Sheep Laural along the boardwalk. Sony NEX 5T with ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8.

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Still with the 12mm.

The other plant in bloom on the Heath on the first of July was one of the bog orchids…probably the most common in Maine…the Rose Pagonia. The panel that follows is a mix of telephoto macros with the OM-D E-M10 and conventional macros with the ZEISS Touit 50mm f2.8 macro.

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Rose Pagonia. Telephoto and conventional macros.

And for a sense of the plant in its environment, a shot with the 12mm Touit.

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Wide shot of the Rose Pagonia as you would see it from ground level in the bog.

Of course there is more than plants to Saco Heath. Common Yellowthroats were singing all over the bog, and a Roufous-sided Towhee was “drink your tea tea tea”ing from the top of a Jack Pine. Song Sparrows sang from the lower limbs of the Pines. All of these shots are with the Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom at 600mm and 1200mm equivalent.

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Common Yellowthroat. Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom.

I am sure this will not be my only Photoprowl at Saco Heath this year. Stay tuned for more.