Archive for the ‘Wetlands’ Category

Meandering About Moon Point

From the rocky viewpoint at the end of the trail, we had a great view to the south of the east-west-oriented Calapooya Mountains, including Bristow Prairie where we were the day before and Balm Mountain where I went 10 days later. The coppery-colored shrub to the right is actually a very dwarf Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia), while some snowbrush (Ceanothus velutinus) is blooming to the left.

I believe this is the caterpillar of the police car moth. Its host food plants are in Boraginaceae like this blue stickseed (Hackelia micrantha). He’s clearly been eating both the leaves and the inflorescence.

After our Bristow Prairie trip (see previous post), Betsy Becker decided to stay in the area another day, so on Sunday, June 23, I brought her up to the Moon Point trail. We had a mostly relaxing day (Betsy was not so relaxed when I persuaded her to sit on top of the cliff at the end of the otherwise easy walk!). It was a beautiful day, and the flowers were still fresh. We saw some more plants she wasn’t familiar with, including the rare green-flowered wild ginger (Asarum wagneri). We also made a loop through the lower meadows to pretty Moon Lake. Here are some photos. Read the rest of this entry »

Citizen’s Rare Plant Watch at Bristow Prairie

Kris checking the Lewisia key on her tablet while Betsy continues to count plants.

Betsy spotted this pair of three-leaved plants trying to trick a trio of botanists. The Columbia windflower (Anemone deltoidea) flower is trying on the western trillium (Trillium ovatum) leaves, perhaps disappointed that its similar leaves (hiding above) are much smaller.

Citizen’s Rare Plant Watch is a citizen science program that was started by the Native Plant Society of Oregon in 2012 and is now run by the Rae Selling Berry Seed Bank and Plant Conservation Program at Portland State University. Volunteers, led by Kris Freitag, travel around the state gathering information on rare plants and trying to relocate plants that have not been seen in the state in many years.

Kris contacted me a while back about monitoring the Columbia lewisia (Lewisia columbiana) John Koenig and I found last year (see Yet Another Exciting Discovery at Bristow Prairie). I suggested I join her and give her the “tour” of one of my favorite places. After several volunteers had to cancel, only Betsy Becker was able to make it all the way down from the Portland area. As it happened, Walama Restoration was hosting a campout at Sacandaga Campground that weekend, so Kris and Betsy and I joined them there on Friday night and headed up to Bristow Prairie on Saturday morning, June 22nd.

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First Trip of the Year to Bristow Prairie

An unusual “pink-eyed Mary” (Collinsia grandiflora)!

So far, my botany season has been spent checking out lower elevation meadows in the Cascades. But finally, on June 4, it seemed like it was time to head up to the higher elevation sites. The Middle Fork District office told me that the day before they’d gotten a truck through Road 5850, which rides the ridge near Bristow Prairie, although there was a little bit of snow still along the side of the road. They weren’t sure about the upper part of Road 2125 where it comes into 5850, but I figured if the rest was clear, that part would be too. Thankfully it was, as I really wanted to see the early flowers at Bristow Prairie.

I saw a sawfly (sounds like a nursery rhyme or riddle: “I thought I saw a sawfly fly”) for the first time on Eagles Rock a few weeks ago (photo on right) and found another on this trip in the rock garden area (left). Actually, they are not flies (order Diptera) but are in the same order (Hymenoptera) as bees and wasps, and they fly with their legs hanging down the way wasps do. This one looks like the genus Trichiosoma. Although they are large and look rather intimidating, they don’t sting.

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Quick Return to Bristow Prairie

A lilac-bordered copper, a snowberry checkerspot, and a pair of mating Hoffman’s checkerspots all sharing the same leafy fleabane (Erigeron foliosus)

I was so excited about finding Columbia lewisia (Lewisia columbiana) at Bristow Prairie (see previous post) that I contacted Molly Juillerat right away. Although she is now the deputy ranger for the Middle Fork Ranger District, her old post as district botanist hasn’t been filled yet, so she’s still the main botanist and the one other local person I know who has been to all the other lewisia sites in the district. I was thrilled that she was able to arrange her schedule to see the lewisia that same weekend, on June 30th. I wanted to get back quickly before the plants finished blooming and became hard to spot again. Read the rest of this entry »

Yet Another Exciting Discovery at Bristow Prairie

Acres of bistort in the wetland by the lake

We always make a stop along the road to see the tiny least moonworts (Botrychium simplex). There were hundreds of them, some only a half-inch tall. Happily, the population seems to be increasing.

John Koenig was disappointed he wasn’t able to join us for the trip to Bristow Prairie (see previous post) and was still hankering to go there. And I hadn’t managed to get to the lake to look for Sierra Nevada blues on either of my earlier trips, so I was quite willing to return to this wonderful area just a few days later, on June 25th. We started out by hiking down to the lake. I had made sure to put my rubber boots in my vehicle, but I had forgotten to transfer them to John’s truck, so I had to walk very carefully through the still fairly damp wetland surrounding the lake. It was quite beautiful, filled with bistort (Bistorta bistortoides), the Sierra Nevada blue’s favorite nectar plant, and we saw a great many butterflies, including a swallowtail nectaring solely on the gorgeous white bog orchids (Platanthera dilatata) and many checkerspots. But where were the Sierra Nevada blues? We both looked at every blue we saw, but although there were many greenish blues and a few other species, I only saw one butterfly that I believe was a Sierra Nevada blue, but it was so low in the foliage, I couldn’t get a very good look at its underside to be sure. Read the rest of this entry »

Southern Willamette Forest Collaborative Hike to Bristow Prairie

Sarah enjoying the riot of color in the rock garden.

We were very pleased to see several Sierra Nevada blues in the wetland. As usual, they were nectaring on their favorite flower, bistort (Bistorta bistortoides).

Earlier in the year, Sarah Altemus-Pope, the coordinator of the Southern Willamette Forest Collaborative, had asked if I wanted to lead another trip in the district after taking some folks up to Moon Point last year (see Youngs Rock to Moon Point). After my earlier trip to Bristow Prairie (see Bristow Prairie Bursting into Bloom), I was anxious to get back up there again and to introduce more people to this beautiful area in the Calapooyas. So on Thursday, June 21, Sarah and two of her kids, Maya and Kris from Walama Restoration Project, and a couple of other gentlemen from the Collaborative spent a lovely day hiking along the north end of the High Divide trail. We also drove over to the main prairie to enjoy the view at the end of the day. The weather was great, the flowers were still fabulous, and we saw lots of butterflies; all in all, it was a great day. Here are some photos from our trip. Read the rest of this entry »

Early Season in the Calapooyas

A last remaining snow bank in the wetland. The mountain shooting stars (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) and marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala) were still in bloom, so it was probably too early for the Sierra Nevada blues to be out yet.

It was very odd to see a number of cliff paintbrush (Castilleja rupicola) blooming along the edge of the gravel road right beside the wet ditch and moisture lovers such as brook saxifrage (Micranthes odontoloma).

On June 19, John Koenig and I took a trip up Coal Creek Road 2133 to see what was blooming in the high country. This is one of our favorite areas. But first, we stopped by Monarch Meadow to see if there was any activity. There were no monarchs flying around, but we saw a handful of eggs. Then we stopped at many wonderful spots along Coal Creek Road to look at plants and butterflies before ending our day in the wetlands near Loletta Lakes. Thickening clouds right above us along the crest of the Calapooyas kept the butterflies down at the top, but we saw plenty on the way up. Things were still pretty early up there, and we even saw a few lingering glacier lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum) and some snow. Here are a few photographic highlights. Read the rest of this entry »

First Flowers at Coal Creek Bluff

After discovering new sites for purple (or heartleaf) milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) in the Western Cascades last summer, my main goal for this spring and summer is to explore these lower elevation meadows in the Rigdon and North Umpqua areas of the Western Cascades for more milkweed sites—and hopefully more monarch sightings. Several weeks ago, John Koenig, Sheila Klest, and I tried to get to what I named “Coal Creek Bluff” last fall on my first visit there (see Final Outing of 2017). We drove across a thin layer of snow on the bridge across Coal Creek but were immediately stopped by a tree across the road. So we changed our plans and went back to “Monarch Meadow” and “Many Creeks Meadow”. John hadn’t been to Monarch Meadow, and Sheila hadn’t been to Many Creeks Meadow. It was an enjoyable day, and things were a little further along than the earlier trips I posted about most recently, but it was still quite early, so not much to report yet.

Gold stars light up the steep slope near the base of the open area. A glimpse of Coal Creek can be seen through the trees below.

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Butterflies and More at Groundhog Mountain

Looking north from “Sundew Road”, you can see haze from smoke, but at least there was some view! Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) was blooming abundantly along the old road.

Painted ladies were abundant everywhere we went. Note the 4 or 5 circular marks along the edge of the hindwing.

The area by Groundhog Mountain has been one of my favorites for many years. What with the roads deteriorating, the oppressive heat, and the awful smoke from so many wildfires, I was afraid I wouldn’t get there this year. But on August 11, John Koenig and I took advantage of a relatively pleasant day in an otherwise nasty month and had a wonderful day up at Groundhog. There were still plenty of late-season flowers and a surprising amount of moisture after 2 months of drought. We really enjoyed it and so did the many butterflies and other insects. We spent a long day exploring Waterdog Lake, many of the wetlands, including the shallow lakes up Road 452, and what I like to call “Sundew Road”—what’s left of Road 454 on the north side of the mountain. We saw so many butterflies, moths, caterpillars, bees, dragonflies, as well as hummingbirds, frogs, and toads—too much to show it all, but here are a few highlights from our day. Read the rest of this entry »

Gorgeous Day at Grassy Ranch

From the summit above Grassy Ranch, there’s a grand view. Looking southeast, we could see still snowy Mt. Thielsen and Mt. Bailey.Nancy and I saw the burned area in the middle ground when we drove up Medicine Creek Road a couple of weeks earlier. Spreading dogbane was abundant and attracting lots of pollinators.

On Saturday, July 15, John Koenig and I spent a long, wonderful day up in the Calapooya Mountains. After the butterfly survey a few days before (see Second Year of Sierra Nevada Blue Surveys), I couldn’t wait to get back up there. We decided we were going to try to drive up Coal Creek Road 2133 without making very many stops—after all, we just drove by there a few days before. Our destination was Grassy Ranch and Reynolds Ridge, over on the south-facing slope of the Calapooyas. It was a long drive coming from Lane County to the north, and we wanted to have as much time as possible over on that side since we seldom get there. But alas, there were so many beautiful things to see, we just had to make one quick stop, then another, and another, and ….. We didn’t even cross over to the south side of the ridge until after noon. The first stop was for a beautiful sweep of Cardwell’s penstemon (Penstemon cardwellii). Then we had to get out at our favorite area where there is a long, wet roadside ditch filled with wildflowers. Here we discovered a single blooming plant of Sitka mistmaiden (Romanzoffia sitchensis), a species I’d never seen in the area. We surmised it must have come from a seed swept down the creek from a population hidden far up the steep, rocky slope. There were also lots of my favorite clover, King’s clover (Trifolium productum var. kingii or T. kingii, the name seems to go back and forth).

Cardwell’s penstemon seems to prefer gravel roadsides to more natural habitats.

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