Sunday, June 8, 2008
I have been making paths in the dry marsh beside Orange Lake ever since I moved in last November. They were relatively easy to clear during winter because the flora was dormant, but require more effort now that everything has leafed out. Above is a series of pictures of the main trail located a couple hundred feet from my home. The trail may be a little indistinct in these pics.
The tall, sparse grass is maidencane (Panicum hemitomon), which will grow on dried marsh soil or in standing water several feet deep. When inundated, it is a terrific cover for invertebrates and small fishes and reptiles. With the lake level so low due to the current drought, maidencane is providing cover for mostly grasshoppers, spiders, snakes and rabbits. My favorite spider is the one (Dipluridae?) that made the funnel web amongst the maidencane.
This dry marsh has a relatively high water table supporting the lush vegetation. Several hundred feet north of my trail is a ditch and dike system encompassing a portion of the marsh that once held farmland. It is no wonder early settlers controlled water levels in this and other marshes for food production. Contrasting this with the previous post, I wonder if this marsh will someday again be farmed?