Posts Tagged ‘bees’

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 »

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 »

The Quest for Enemion Flowers at Table Rock

Clackamas iris (Iris tenuis)

Yesterday (July 29), my husband Jim and I were invited to join Ed Alverson of the Nature Conservancy on a trip north to Table Rock Wilderness to meet up with Daniel Mosquin of the UBC Botanical Garden. I’ve been wanting to get Jim up to see Table Rock’s huge cliff for years, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to head up there with trained botanists, especially if I didn’t have to do the driving. Neither Ed nor Daniel had ever been to Table Rock either. Daniel, whom some of you may recognize from Botany Photo of the Day, was on a mission to photograph the rare Enemion hallii that grows there. He was down in Oregon on other business just for the weekend, so we were crossing our fingers that we could find it in bloom.

Last year (see Rock-hopping at Table Rock Wilderness), it was blooming beautifully on July 22. We were a week later on an even later-blooming year, and I’d seen it blooming well earlier in July on a drier year, so I had high hopes. I started to get a little nervous as we walked along the old road that now serves as the beginning of the trail. The Penstemon serrulatus that was blooming so profusely last year was just beginning. Are we still several weeks later than last year, already a late year? One bonus was that we found the last blooms of another, even rarer plant, Clackamas iris (Iris tenuis), which was completely finished on last year’s trip. This Oregon endemic is found almost entirely in Clackamas County. It reminded me a lot of some Iris japonica I have in my garden, with its wide leaves and spreading habit. It turns out it is the only western American species in the crested iris group (section Lophiris), which includes most of the prettiest irises in my garden including I. gracilipes, I. lacustris, I. cristata, as well as I. japonica. The rest are Asian or eastern North American, so Clackamas iris is a real anomaly.

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Another Surprise at BVD Meadow

The Western Cascades is one of the best tree-growing places in the world, and we have some beautiful old growth forest still remaining in spite of the extensive logging. But the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, so, naturally, I’m always looking for non-forested spots—meadows, outcrops, wetlands, and so on. While I use Google Earth to look for naturally open areas now, in the “old days”, I used to look for white spots on the USGS map. Sometimes I got lucky. On a trip to Twin Lakes in August of 2004, I got really lucky when I discovered the old BVD trail.

The large open meadow along the BVD trail has a great view to the east of Mt. Thielsen and Mt. Bailey.

The Twin Lakes trail is one of the most beautiful in the North Umpqua district. There are two beautiful lakes, huge old growth trees in the forest, and both wet and dry meadows. The second time I went to Twin Lakes, I ended up camping by the trailhead. I woke up really early and decided to see what a nearby large white area on the map represented. Instead of heading west from the parking lot onto the Twin Lakes trail, I headed east. There is a very short stretch of road that ends at a man-made pool of water, presumably there for fire fighting. A sign read “BVD Trail No. 1511, caution this trail is not maintained and may be difficult to follow”. They were right about the faint trail being hard to follow, but by going straight along the ridge for less than a third of a mile, I did end up quite quickly and easily in a huge south-facing sloping meadow with wonderful rock outcrops down slope. As it was late August, everything was dried up, but I could see the remnants of balsamroot, buckwheats, and other great plants. The following year, I went back to see it in bloom and was thrilled to find lots of wonderful flowers, some of which were quite uncommon. Read the rest of this entry »

Pollinator Party at Grizzly Peak

Great spangled fritillary

Great spangled fritillary on double delphinium (see next post for more on the delphiniums!)

My last trip of the year to Grizzly Peak turned out to be more about insects than plants. I can’t remember ever seeing such a variety of insects in one day. Kelley and I should have realized what a good insect day it was going to be when we met a bee expert in the parking area as soon as we arrived. We had seen some enormous bumble bees on our previous trip in late June, so we were sure he was in the right place for his research.

Along with bees, Grizzly Peak is an excellent site to look for butterflies. We saw quite a few as we passed through the various habitats. The gorgeous and statuesque Delphinium glaucum might not appear to be attractive to butterflies, but large butterflies that can reach their proboscis into the long spurs seemed exceedingly pleased with the stands blooming in openings in the woods near the beginning of the trail. We saw Western tiger swallowtails, anise swallowtails, great spangled fritillaries—both the golden brown males and the striking females with their deep chocolate brown and contrasting cream-bordered wings. There were even a few skippers and a clearwinged bee-like moth.

female blue copper on Eriogonum sphaerocephalum

My favorite of the day were the lovely female blue coppers. Their caterpillar host plant is Eriogonum, no shortage of sustenance for them there with four different species. The most unusual is Eriogonum sphaerocephalum, an East side plant. It is found in the burned western end of the summit. The female coppers were nectaring on these buckwheats. I love the subtle beauty of both of their gold-tinged colors and how they work so well together. The female, like many coppers, is brown on top, while the upperside of the stunning male is vibrant blue. You can tell the male blue copper from true blues by the prominent black veins across the blue.

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