Butterfly Survey at Groundhog Mountain

Elephant head (Pedicularis groenlandica) blooming in a boggy section of the wetland at the end of Road 462.

Elephant’s head (Pedicularis groenlandica) blooming in a boggy section of the wetland at the end of Road 462.

While the Sierra Nevada blues (Agriades [Plebejus] podarce) were out and about, Willamette National Forest Service wildlife biologist Joe Doerr organized one last group butterfly survey. Now that we knew they were definitely established in the Calapooya Mountains (see the previous post, More Butterfly Surveying in the Calapooyas), we wanted to know if they had moved north across the Middle Fork of the Willamette. The area around Groundhog Mountain has an extensive network of wetlands, most of which have abundant mountain shooting stars (Dodecatheon jeffreyi), its host food plant, as well as lots of bistort (Bistorta bistortoides), its favorite nectar plant. If they were going to populate anywhere to the north of the Calapooyas, I thought Groundhog would be the ideal spot, although I had no real expectations of finding them there since I’d been there over three dozen times and never spotted them. Still, it was worth checking. And any data is important. So on Monday, July 11, Joe, Cheron Ferland, Lori Humphreys, and I, along with 4 botanists from the Middle Fork district headed off to Groundhog. Read the rest of this entry »

More Butterfly Surveying in the Calapooyas

I watched a male Sierra Nevada blue (top) chasing a female around, but she played hard to get, and he never managed to catch her.

After our successful day finding Sierra Nevada blues at Bristow Prairie (see Searching for Butterflies at Bristow Prairie), Joe Doerr, Willamette National Forest (WNF) wildlife biologist, was hot to see if we could find more populations of the rare butterfly within the WNF. Other surveyors had been looking for them on the Umpqua National Forest in the past couple of years, but after I spotted them at Loletta Lakes last year (see NARGS Campout Day 2: Loletta Lakes), just inside the WNF, it seemed likely there might be more spots nearby. The boundary of the Forests is the crest of the Calapooyas, so while the northern Bristow Prairie site is in Lane County, both populations there are just west of the crest, putting them over on the Umpqua National Forest side. So far, this area is the northern end of their limited range, which reaches south to the Sierra Nevada in California. Read the rest of this entry »

Wildlife and Wildflowers at Parish Lake

The vast amounts of great sundew (Drosera anglica and hybrid D. x obovata) turn the bog west of the lake bright red.

The vast amounts of great sundew (Drosera anglica and hybrid D. x obovata) turn the bog west of the lake bright red. There is plenty of round-leaved sundew (D. rotundifolia) as well, but it is much shorter and less conspicuous.

On Saturday, July 2, I made the long drive up to Parish Lake to prehike it for a short trip I’m leading for the NPSO Annual Meeting. It was a really beautiful day, and it wasn’t spoiled by any mosquitoes. At around 3400′, it is actually somewhat late in the season here, and a lot of the flowers were finished. But there were still some things in bloom—notably the sundews, which are always the highlight of a trip to this cool bog. The wildlife and signs of their presence also made the trip worthwhile. Read the rest of this entry »

Highs and Lows at Quaking Aspen Swamp

Lovely Columbia windflower in the forest on the trail down to Quaking Aspen Swamp.

Lovely Columbia windflower in the forest on the trail down to Quaking Aspen Swamp.

Ruby "dogging" her mom's heels. In front are alpine aster, notable for their solitary flower heads.

Ruby “dogging” her mom’s heels. I wouldn’t recommend taking a dog into a bog like this, but Ruby is an incredibly well behaved canine and a pleasure to botanize with. In front of her are alpine asters, notable for their solitary flower heads.

Yesterday, June 30, Nancy Bray and I accompanied Molly Juillerat and her sweet dog, Ruby, on a trip to Quaking Aspen Swamp. Like last week’s trip to Horsepasture Mountain, this will be one of the sites Native Plant Society of Oregon annual meeting participants will visit, and Molly will be leading that hike. She is the Middle Fork district botanist, so this is out of her area, and we came to help familiarize her with the ins and outs (and, as it turns out, the ups and downs!) of this neat wetland. Since there isn’t a trail in the wetland itself, it takes some planning to figure out how to navigate it and where the best flowers are.

There were a number of highlights. Many of the predominantly white woodland flowers were at their peak. These included floriferous patches of bunchberry (Cornus unalaschkensis), Columbia windflower (Anemone deltoidea), and queen’s cup (Clintonia uniflora). Out along the edges of the wetland, there were pretty displays of alpine aster (Oreostemma alpigenum), blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium idahoense), and bog microseris (Microseris borealis). While the amazing colorful sheets of marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala) and mountain shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) were over, there were a few pockets of still fresh flowers to be seen. The abundant sundews (Drosera rotundifolia, D. anglica, and hybrid D. x obovata) were just starting to bloom. Read the rest of this entry »

Back to Back Trips to Horsepasture and Lowder Mountains

The view of the Three Sisters is outstanding from the summit of Horsepasture.

The view of the Three Sisters is outstanding from the summit of Horsepasture.

It’s been a busy week, so I’m just going to post some photos from my last two trips. On Wednesday, June 22, I went up to Horsepasture Mountain with Jenny Lippert, Willamette National Forest botanist, to scout for an upcoming trip that she’ll be leading during the Native Plant Society of Oregon annual meeting in a few weeks. Then on Sunday, June 26, I led a trip to Lowder Mountain for Oregon Wild with Chandra LeGue, their Western Oregon Field Coordinator, and six other hikers interested in learning some Cascade wildflowers. Both trails are in the Willamette National Forest McKenzie District. The flowers on both mountains are still great, but we are definitely a few weeks earlier than “normal”, and things are moving along fast. Read the rest of this entry »

Searching for Butterflies at Bristow Prairie

A gorgeous clodius parnassian. Note the transparent wing tips.

An elegant clodius parnassian. Note the transparent wing tips.

On Monday, June 20, I was invited by wildlife biologist Joe Doerr to join a group of wildlife biologists and botanists from the Willamette National Forest on a trip to Bristow Prairie. The goals were generally to familiarize everyone with butterfly species in our area and specifically to search for the Sierra Nevada blue, also called gray blue or arrowhead arctic blue (Agriades or Plebejus podarce—so many names!). Last year I discovered it at Reynolds Ridge (see A Day Full of Surprises) a year after it was first discovered there by Forest Service biologists surveying for it in southern Oregon. I mentioned it to Lori Humphreys who promptly went out and discovered it for the first time in Lane County in the little wetland off of the High Divide trail just north of Bristow Prairie. I saw it the same spot a few days later (see NARGS Campout Day 1: Bristow Prairie). This being the northernmost site so far, it seemed like the nearest place to take everyone to see it. Along with the forest service employees, our group included Lori, Dana Ross, Gary Pearson, and Rick Ahrens, expert naturalists and also non-agency “volunteers”. Read the rest of this entry »

Finally a Look at a Hidden Meadow at Tire Mountain

There's a great view of the mountains beyond Oakridge, including Diamond Peak on the right and Fuji Mountain on the left, both still snowy. You can also make out the two west-facing meadows of Heckletooth Mountain.

From the hidden lower meadow, there’s a distant view of the mountains beyond Oakridge, including Diamond Peak on the right and Fuji Mountain in the center, both still snowy. You can also make out the two west-facing meadows of Heckletooth Mountain near Oakridge, to the left and below Diamond Peak.

Last month I went to Tire Mountain to check out a hidden meadow below the trail near the beginning of the Tire Mountain trail (see Off the Beaten Path at Tire Mountain). I wasn’t paying attention, however, and went up the wrong meadow. Having first explored it in the fall of 2012, I still needed to get back and check it out while it was still in bloom. I had also wanted to return to see the yampah (Perideridia sp.) in bloom and hopefully collect some seeds of early blooming flowers. My schedule has been pretty full, so I figured I’d better jump on the first decent day before it was too late. So on Sunday, June 19, I headed up to Tire Mountain hoping to accomplish at least some of my goals. Read the rest of this entry »

Gorgeous Day on Middle Pyramid

The view from the summit was spectacular on this clear day. Looking north we had a clear view of Mt. Hood and even Mt. Saint Helens framed by Coffin Mountain (left) and Bachelor Mountain.

The view from the summit was spectacular on this clear day. Looking north we had a great view of Mt. Hood and even Mt. Saint Helens framed by Coffin Mountain (left) and Bachelor Mountain (right). Trappers Butte is in front on the left.

Cliff penstemon can live in the harshest spots and still look beautiful—much nicer than the ones in my garden, which wouldn't even bloom this year. Three-fingerd Jack is in the background.

Cliff penstemon can survive in the harshest spots and still look beautiful—much nicer than the ones in my garden, which wouldn’t even bloom this year. Three-fingered Jack is in the background, looking east.

After all the super hot weather we’ve been having, it was a glorious weekend, and I was thrilled to get back into the Western Cascades on June 12 with four friends: Nancy Bray, Ginny McVickar, Sheila Klest, and her friend Sherry. I’m going to be leading a short trip to Park Creek during the upcoming NPSO Annual Meeting, which our Emerald Chapter is hosting next month, so I had wanted to take a look at how things were shaping up in the area. I realized I hadn’t been to the Pyramids since 2010 (see Yellow Cliff Paintbrush Still at Middle Pyramid), so, since Park Creek is on the way to the Pyramids trailhead, I figured I could do both. None of my companions had been to the Pyramids Trail before, making it a special trip for them as well.

We really couldn’t have picked a better day. There were few clouds in the sky until late afternoon, and the temperature wasn’t too hot or too cool. As Goldilocks would have said, it was “just right.” The air was much clearer than it had been during the high humidity of the recent heat wave, giving us awesome views at the summit. The foliage was quite lush, and the flowers were also fabulous, with a great many things in their prime.

Read the rest of this entry »

Spring at Heckletooth Mountain

Silver lupine (Lupinus albifrons) is outstanding on the steep, rocky, south-facing slope below the summit.

Silver lupine (Lupinus albifrons) is outstanding on the steep, rocky, south-facing slope below the summit.

The paintbrushes on the summit are hard to pin down as they are in many spots in southeastern Lane County. They may be a mix of Castilleja hispida and C. pruinosa. But whatever they are, they are gorgeous!

The paintbrushes on the summit are hard to pin down to species just like they are in many spots in southeastern Lane County. They may be a mix of Castilleja hispida and C. pruinosa. Whatever they are, they are gorgeous!

Spring is a busy season, and I’m already running behind. So I’m just going to post some pretty photos of a lovely trip to Heckletooth Mountain that Sabine and I took a week ago on May 28th. After going there at least once almost every year since 2006, I hadn’t been since 2013, so it was good to get back to this steep but lovely trail. There were still plenty of things just starting, including the grand show of showy tarweed (Madia elegans) and white-flowered threadleaf phacelia (Phacelia linearis). The weather was gorgeous. Everything was really quite perfect except for one major problem. The gravel road to get there is only 1.8 miles, but since my last trip, it had really gone downhill (pun intended—it’s pretty steep!). Some major downpours must have caused the many gullies in the road. Usually those kinds of gullies only last for short distances, but these must have gone on for a mile. And once I started up, I couldn’t turn around or back up over them. No fun! I hadn’t felt like dealing with gravel roads—one of the reasons I decided to go to Heckletooth—so it was quite an unfortunate surprise, and one that will keep me from returning to see the next wave of flowers.  Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Beaten Path at Tire Mountain

Harsh paintbrush in bloom, looking south across the large east-facing meadow near the beginning of the trail.

Harsh paintbrush in bloom, looking south across the large east-facing meadow near the beginning of the trail.

This yampah has highly divided and irregular lower leaves as described for Periderida bolanderi, but the upper leaf has only a few lobes, and looks much more like one would expect for P. oregana.

This yampah has highly divided and irregular lower leaves as described for Periderida bolanderi, but the upper leaf has only a few lobes, and looks much more like one would expect for P. oregana.

Tire Mountain is one of my favorite spots and one of the premier wildflower destinations in Lane County and in the Western Cascades. Yet I have very few reports on my blog. That is because I had already been to Tire Mountain so many times before I started my blog that I haven’t been very often in the last few years, and it had been 5 years since I’d been during flowering season—far too long! I never had gotten back to check out the lower meadows that I explored in fall of 2012 (see Forensic Botany at Tire Mountain), and I also needed to go back to look at the suspicious yampah that might be Perideridia bolanderi. I was on my own for the day, so it seemed a good opportunity to do some more exploring, and there’s so much to see at Tire Mountain, both on and off the trail. Read the rest of this entry »

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