Archive for August, 2011
With the continued warm weather, I didn’t feel like exerting myself, so on Friday, August 25, I went to Groundhog Mountain, accompanied by Sabine Dutoit and Nancy Bray, to do some relaxing roadside botanizing and butterfly watching. There’s too much to see to do everything in one trip, so we started by heading up Road 452, which goes around the east and north sides of the mountain. The best butterfly area, a little less than a mile up the road, was really superb. The coyote mint (Monardella odoratissima) and Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum) were at peak, along with lots sulphur buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum), leafy fleabane (Erigeron foliosus), fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium), and skyrocket (Ipomopsis aggregata). What a sight. There were oodles of butterflies including pale swallowtails, hydaspe fritillaries, variable checkerspots, Anna’s blues, pine whites, parnassians, a tiger swallowtail, one painted lady—possibly my first of the season, a woodland skipper, a mylitta crescent, a Lorquin’s admiral, and several coppers, including a purplish. Read the rest of this entry »
Another great day for wildlife began before we even got to Hills Peak on Tuesday (August 23). As we drove out Road 21 around Hills Creek Reservoir, both Sabine and I took a double-take at an object on the edge of the road. I backed up when I realized it was a western pond turtle… intent on crossing the road! Picking him up wasn’t as easy as I expected. He squirmed and scratched much the way my cat does when I want to move her somewhere she doesn’t want to go. We were right near where Stony Creek meets the lake, so we brought him down to the water’s edge where he headed straight into the water. Hopefully if he gets the urge to go to the lake again, he can find a way under the road. I’ve never seen a pond turtle out that way, so it was great to see him, especially still alive and not squished on the road. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has posted a Western Pond Turtle fact sheet if you’re interested in learning more about these uncommon turtles in Oregon. Read the rest of this entry »
After some time off for my first visit to the Olympic Peninsula, I was back up in the Western Cascades on Thursday (August 18). Sabine accompanied me for a trip to Warfield Bog, an interesting wetland east of Oakridge. Last year I discovered a population of the rare swamp red currant (Ribes triste) there (see Unexpected Find at Warfield Creek Bog), and I wanted to do a more careful survey to see how much of it grows there. We relocated last year’s site easily, under a clump of firs growing near the south edge of the bog. The plants had a few unripe berries on them. We crossed the bog and headed to the northeast corner to check on the woods at the edge there. It turns out a photo I had taken there the year before had the currant leaves in them but I hadn’t recognized them at the time. We found those plants creeping along a bleached out log growing with its prickly cousin swamp gooseberry (Ribes lacustre). We actually saw six species of Ribes in the area. When we returned to the small lake by the road, we found three more patches of swamp red currant, all under trees or shrubs fairly close to the water. This is quite similar to the habitat of the ones at Park Creek I’d seen earlier in the month (see Rare Currant at Park Creek). Next year I hope to come back to see them in bloom. Read the rest of this entry »
Last Friday (August 5), I helped lead a field trip to Blair Lake with Molly Juillerat, Middle Fork Ranger District botanist. It was a lovely day and very relaxing for me, especially not having to drive—Molly and two other Forest Service employees, Kate and Anna, took care of that. There were lots of flowers in bloom. The brightest and most noticeable plant was subalpine spiraea (Spiraea splendens). Its gorgeous bright pink flowers lined the road. A few hybrids (called S. xhitchcockii) between this species and the later blooming hardhack (Spiraea douglasii) were evident. These are somewhat cone-shaped—an intermediate form between the relatively flat tops of splendens and the narrow wands of douglasii. There were also multitudes of tiger lilies (Lilium columbianum), always a favorite. Since one of my fascinations is plants that close part of the day, I watched carefully as the pretty blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium idahoense) seemed much more abundant after a few hours. I’ve waited before for them to open so I could photograph them. It seems they are late risers, preferring to keep their petals closed up until around noon. Until then, they are much harder to spot. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been trying to get back to Coffin and Bachelor mountains for several years, and, coincidentally, I finally made it back this past Wednesday, August 3, exactly three years to the day of my last trip. These two mountains have fairly short trails and are side by side, but it is still hard for me to do both in one day (without rushing too much) unless I camp nearby to give myself more time. Otherwise, I’d head up there at least once a year. They really are jewels for flowers and butterflies. I don’t know why more people don’t know about them. They deserve the popularity of Iron Mountain and Cone Peak, but I can’t complain too much about how much quieter they are.
Many of you have Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest by Mark Turner and Phyllis Gustafson. Mark is currently working on a follow-up book on shrubs. He contacted me earlier in the year to find some locations in Oregon for Lonicera caerulea and some uncommon willows. I suggested Park Creek as a place to find some of these. Not only is it a lovely area with lots of interesting plants, but the many great spots are easily and quickly accessible from the road. This is a big plus if you are a photographer, especially one with a long list of plants to photograph in a limited amount of time. I was glad to hear he found his target species in bloom there on his visit. But even more exciting for me, he discovered and photographed a rare currant, Ribes triste, known as swamp red currant (click here for Mark’s Park Creek photos including some of the pretty flowers). I found this last year at Warfield Bog (see Unexpected Find at Warfield Creek Bog), otherwise, I probably would never have even heard of it. There are very few recorded locations on the OFP Atlas (click here for map). I just couldn’t make it up to Park Creek earlier in the season, but I still wanted to see where it was, and Mark sent me a GPS location. Read the rest of this entry »
Last Sunday (July 31), I led a trip to Lowder Mountain for NPSO. The original plan to take people to Balm Mountain had to be changed as a result of the amount of snow on the road (see Not Balmy Yet at Balm Mountain!). But a number of people hadn’t been to Lowder Mountain, and those that have usually enjoy it so much they are happy to return. The woods were really pretty with an especially good show of both queen’s cup (Clintonia uniflora) and Columbia windflower (Anemone deltoidea). So many forest wildflowers are white or light-colored. These show up better in the shade for the pollinators—and wildflower lovers. At the first dry opening, there were many tiny annuals growing in still damp soil between the masses of Eriogonum compositum, including a yellow-flowered plant. I like to point these out because so many people miss these miniature gardens that fill in the spaces between larger perennials. Read the rest of this entry »