Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category
I haven’t been posting much lately. Partly, that is due to my winding down my botanizing as the flowers are also finishing their season. The other reason is that I’ve been exploring some High Cascade wetlands. In the last few weeks I’ve visited Gold Lake Bog, Blue Lake, Hand and Scott lakes, and some interesting unnamed bogs near Little Cultus Lake, an area I’d never investigated before. On Friday (September 14), however, I went back to one of my favorite haunts, and the last one I posted about: Hills Peak. I’ve been wanting to show Molly Juillerat (Middle Fork District botanist) the wonderful lake on the east side of the peak because it is home to lesser bladderwort, one of the rare species the Forest Service monitors (see the previous post). Molly was finally free after fires near Oakridge pulled her away from her other duties, and Nancy was also able to join us.
On Thursday (August 23), John Koenig and I spent a lovely day in the area by Hills Peak. I had been looking forward to showing John one of my favorite areas in the Calapooyas, a part of the Western Cascades that is special to him as well. He “adopted” the Dome Rock wilderness area for Oregon Wild (then ONRC) back in the late ’90s when they were trying to assess all the small unprotected wilderness areas in the state. The day was absolutely gorgeous with none of the heat of the previous week or so and no sign of smoke from any of the small fires in the area.
We started out the day by walking down the old road to the shallow lake to the east of Hills Peak. I didn’t have time to check it out on my earlier trip this year (see Hills Creek to Hills Peak). Although the majority of flowers were finished, there was still plenty to see. Poking around a small wet meadow beside this old road, we found dozens of one-flowered gentians (Gentianopsis simplex), including a few plants whose petals were twice the normal length. There were also a great many starry ladies’ tresses (Spiranthes stellata). I’ve seen these both here before, but one of these days I’ll come back earlier enough to see what must be a lovely display of mountain shooting stars (Dodecatheon jeffreyi). Read the rest of this entry »
After last week’s trip to Warfield Bog and Hemlock Butte (see previous post), I was interested in checking out some more places in the area. While exploring on Google Earth, I noticed several apparent wetlands in the area near Lopez Lake, just a couple of miles northeast of Hemlock Butte. From the spotty appearance of the lake in the aerial image, it also seemed likely that Lopez Lake had aquatic plants—always a plus for me. All of the areas of interest could be reached off of Road 5884, out Hwy 58 east of Oakridge. I’d been up the first half of this road a couple of times before to hike to Devil’s Garden, an area with a small wetland and a lake at the base of a talus slope, but I’d never been all the way to the end. Read the rest of this entry »
On Sunday (July 29), I drove down along Road 21 past Hills Creek Reservoir, yet again. I believe that’s the 13th time this season—and it won’t be the last. It is such a fascinating area botanically with a few good trails and a great deal of roadside interest. I was still tired from bushwhacking around Bearbones Mountain, so I wanted to avoid any real hiking and to instead check up on some good roadside spots and see as much of Hills Peak, way out past the end of 21, as I had time and energy for. My first stop was to Youngs Flat Picnic Area to see if the piperias were in bloom. What great luck, the white-flowered royal rein orchid (Piperia transversa) was in perfect bloom. Chaparral rein orchid (P. elongata) blooms a little later and was just starting, although I found several in good bloom. As far as I know, it is impossible to tell the various species apart from the leaves. So this was the time to check out some of the areas along the road where I’d seen the leaves but never the flowers. So my next stop was Mutton Meadow. In the woods across the road from the meadow were some scattered Piperia transversa, no elongata. The meadow itself was filled with elegant cluster-lily (Brodiaea elegans), some kind of birdbeak (Cordylanthus sp.)—a rare plant around here, and yampah (Perideridia spp.). I believe I saw both P. gairdneri and P. oregana, but until the seeds appear, I can’t be sure. That’s a tough genus to get a handle on.
Hopscotching over to “Heavenly Bluff”, the rocky opening I saw from Bearbones, worked so well on my last trip (see A Heavenly New Site in Lane County) that I decided to try it again. On Friday (July 6), I jumped a little farther west to Scorpion Butte, a place I’d never heard of but had seen from Heavenly Bluff a couple of days before. While it is less than 4 miles as the crow flies from Heavenly Bluff, I couldn’t get there from the east and had to drive to Cottage Grove and approach it from the west side. It is just a couple of miles south of Bohemia Saddle, but the shortest route was to follow Sharps Creek down to Martin Creek Road 23 (confusingly, not the same Road 23 that runs east from the Hills Creek Dam), up Puddin’ Rock Road 2328 to Shane Saddle, and east a little less than 2 miles down Road 3828 to a hard corner with a large gravel area. It was almost 12 miles of gravel road, but thankfully it was all in pretty decent shape and lined with colorful flowers in some of the higher elevation sections. And it was well worth the drive to see this beautiful spot. Read the rest of this entry »
Last year, when Mark Turner was looking for places to photograph shrubs for his upcoming Shrubs of the Pacific Northwest book, I suggested he visit the Park Creek Basin near Three Pyramids. There are lots of interesting shrubs growing within a short distance of the roadside. Not only was he successful photographing the shrubs he was looking for, he also discovered a very rare one: Ribes triste, known as swamp red currant or wild red currant. I located the plants later in the summer (see Rare Currrant at Park Creek), but was anxious to see them in bloom. I also wanted to see the flowers of some odd little willows I’d found on that trip.
I decided to head up there on Wednesday (June 6). Sabine accompanied me. I was concerned about the timing, as I hadn’t been that far north yet this year, and there’s no telling where the snow level is in a cool spring like this. Last year, Mark saw them in perfect bloom on June 23, but in 2001 we were about a month behind “normal”. It’s been cool and damp this spring but not as extreme as last year, so I figured I might hit it right. I used to be quite good at figuring out when a particular plant might be in bloom, based on spring weather, winter snowpack, and past experience at a variety of locations. But the last few years, the nasty springs had really thrown off my phenology radar. It seems I might be back in business—my timing was perfect! Read the rest of this entry »
Last Saturday (April 7), Nancy Bray and I headed east to the Fall Creek Trail to enjoy the dry day and early flowers. I am very lucky to live so close to this beautiful 14-mile trail that follows along Fall Creek through stunning old growth forest. It might seem a poor choice to take advantage of the sunny day, but with the deciduous trees not yet leafed out and a number of now-open burned areas, we enjoyed the sun (while it lasted) and even saw one butterfly, an anglewing, fluttering about.
Our first stop was to admire one of the many small roadside swamps lit up by the bright yellow spathes of skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus). With the sunlight behind them, they look lit from within, giving rise to another name: swamp lantern. I have always been interested in fragrant plants, and I can’t help but pester anyone I’m with to smell different flowers. It’s always interesting to find out how different everyone’s sense of smell is. So I had to see what Nancy thought of the fragrance of the skunk cabbage flower. It is nothing like that of the skunky-smelling leaves. She agreed that it was pleasant.
Another fragrant plant all along the wet roadsides this time of year is coltsfoot (Petasites frigidus). I’ve always thought its unusual scent reminiscent of menthol. Someone recently suggested vanilla, and I think I can smell that as well. Lately, I have been looking more carefully at the variety of tiny florets in composites. Coltsfoot flower heads are either male or female. The males are composed mainly of disk florets and may or may not have any ray florets. The females have quite a few ray florets with only a few disk florets. I’d never noticed this before. Read the rest of this entry »
On Friday (September 23), Nancy Bray, Ingrid Ford and her adorable dog Bogy, and I headed up to Tidbits to see the gentians. I had planned to get up there early in the season to see the many great plants that grow on the massive rock formations, but there are just too many places to visit. But although it was actually the first day of fall, there are still a few things to see. Thank goodness for the gorgeous gentians. They are somewhat like dessert after a great meal, saving the best for last, the final sweet treat that lingers with you and tides you over until the next flower season. There are not very many species of Gentiana in the Cascades, and they are never terribly common. Tidbits is one of the few places in the Western Cascades with a good show of gentians, so it is always worth a late season trip. Read the rest of this entry »
On Tuesday (August 30), I left the Hemlock Lake campground and drove the 18 miles or so east along the ridge to the Whitehorse Meadows trailhead at the northern end of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide. I wondered what might still be in bloom at the relatively high trail at about 5700′. Just a mile or so before the trailhead, I stopped at a favorite spot, a lovely roadside wet slope. It was filled with Parnassia cirrata, Kyhosia bolanderi, Erigeron aliceae, and there were also some lovely leopard lilies (Lilium pardalinum). It looked like things would be great along the trail. Then I noticed some burned trees above the wetland. Hmm. It wasn’t until I came around the corner and saw Black Rock, the prominent feature in this area, completely surrounded by dead trees, that I realized what had happened. What a shock! One of my favorite trails utterly devastated. The trail meanders slowly downhill over 3 miles to the large Whitehorse Meadows. Until just before the Whitehorse Meadows, almost no trees had survived this fire except a few in the many small patches of meadows, outcrops, and wetlands along the way. How did I not know this area had burned? It wasn’t until I got home and called the Diamond Lake Ranger District office of the Umpqua National Forest that I found out it burned in the fall of 2009, just a couple of months after my last visit here. The fire was named after Rainbow Creek, a tributary of Black Creek that starts nearby. It burned over 6,000 acres. It occurred around the same time as the Tumblebug Fire, which was much closer to me and kept me away from southern Oregon entirely. For a dramatic aerial photo of the fires, see Earth Snapshot. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »