Posts Tagged ‘Groundhog Mountain’
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 »
I’m a fairweather hiker and usually avoid going out on days without a good amount of sun. But sometimes it happens. On both of my last two outings, I ended up spending most of the day literally in the clouds. I don’t take anywhere near the number of photos I usually do, but I thought I’d share a few.
Bristow Prairie, 5/15/15
Molly Juillerat, Middle Fork NF district botanist, and her dog Ruby and I made the same trip John Koenig and I had done a couple of weeks before (see Bristow Prairie: 2015 Trip 2), but the low clouds gave the area a distinctly different mood. From a scientific standpoint (not from one of comfort!), it was interesting to see how much moisture the plants received without any actual rain.
On Thursday, August 7, Sabine and I headed up to Groundhog Mountain, accompanied by fellow North American Butterfly Association member Lori Humphreys. With the majority of the flowers on the wane, we had already figured we’d probably focus on butterflies, so it was great that Lori could come and help teach me some more about some of the tough groups like fritilliaries. She also looked a lot at the skippers, but I’m still not ready to put a lot of effort into the butterfly equivalent of LBJs (little brown jobs). Here are some photographic highlights of another lovely day on Groundhog. Read the rest of this entry »
On August 2, Sabine Dutoit, Nancy Bray, and I went up to Groundhog Mountain for a relaxing day of enjoying flowers and butterflies and whatever else we came across. We started our day in the small sloping wetland that heads downhill to the east off of Road 2309. While most of the flowers, even in the wetlands, are finishing up early this year, it was the perfect time for Cascade grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata) and rangers buttons (Sphenosciadium capitellatum). The latter is found mainly in the southern part of the Western Cascades. It is always fun to come across. The unusual flowers have open umbels of soft, dense, spherical umbellets, the kind of thing you just have to touch. I told Nancy that this was a good host food plant for Anise swallowtails, and, sure enough, before we left the wetland, she’d found a caterpillar chewing on the leaves of a rangers buttons.
Many of you know Gerry Carr’s fabulous plant photos that he donates to the Oregon Flora Project Gallery, the WTU Image Collection (the Burke Herbarium’s gallery of Washington plants), and posts on his own site, Oregon Flora Image Project. If you don’t, be sure to click on the links! Trying to photograph almost every species in Oregon is a huge undertaking, and I’ve enjoyed helping Gerry find plants in the Western Cascades that he hasn’t photographed yet. Several species still on his to do list grow in the wonderful area of southeastern Lane County that I spend so much time in. It seemed like it might be the right time to find some of those late blooming plants, so on Friday, August 10, I picked Gerry up in Lowell and headed down along Hills Creek Reservoir yet again.
Our first stop was Moon Point. Last year we spent the whole day at Moon Point (see Moon Point Melting Out), so this trip, we were only heading to the upper part of the Youngs Rock trail, which is easier to access from the top. With thousands of plants to photograph, one must be as efficient as possible! On the way to the trail intersection, I went poking around looking for the rare green-flowered ginger (Asarum wagneri), one of Gerry’s targets last year. I was surprised to find several still in bloom and was thrilled to find a couple of ripe seeds. The common long-tailed ginger (A. caudatum) was also still displaying flowers, and I found plenty of ripe seed. I’ve posted scans of the latter in the Seed Gallery or you can click here to see the neat fleshy appendages on the seeds. While I was searching for ginger seeds, Gerry discovered his first target plant of the day, mountain campion (Silene bernardina var. rigidula). This is a rare species I’ve only seen here, at nearby Groundhog Mountain, and at Abbott Butte. Silene species are often called catchfly and, indeed, these are sticky enough to catch insects. We photographed some really nice specimens in the shade just after the split in the trails. It was a good thing we did it then because on our way back they were in the sun and had shriveled up. I’ve noticed this with the fairly common Douglas’ campion (S. douglasii). They seem to look their best on cloudy days or first thing in the morning. Not sure why this is true, but I’m sure there’s a good explanation. 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 both my last two outings, part of my agenda was to relocate tiny annuals I had seen in the past. More and more, I find myself fascinated with these smallest of plants that have such a brief time in the sun. They just don’t get much respect. Sometimes I find myself ignoring large, showy perennials shamelessly calling attention to themselves with their bright colors. Instead, I look for the empty spaces in between the tall plants. Here lie an amazing array of Lilliputian annuals that can hardly be seen without kneeling down (hence the name “belly plants”). But up close, they are as fascinating as the relative giants above them.
At Bristow Prairie on July 13, my first stop was just a short ways from the road up a small wash. A couple of years ago (see Bristow Prairie’s Open Gravelly Slope), I had seen some tiny popcorn flowers (Plagiobothrys spp.). Unfortunately, they are so similar that to differentiate many species you need to see the nutlets. The various patterns of bumps and ridges and the placement of the scar where the nutlets were attached to the style help distinguish one species from another. I found the little plants pretty easily, and, unlike the previous trip, they had started to form nutlets. Even unripe, it is possible to see some of the necessary characteristics. I’m pretty sure they are harsh popcorn flower (P. hispidulus), as I had suspected, but it was good to finally get a look at the nutlets. Read the rest of this entry »
Ever since I discovered the most southerly population of Douglasia laevigata on Groundhog Mountain in the fall of 2010 (see Exciting Cliff at Groundhog Mountain), I’ve been wanting to get back to see the hidden cliff on the north end in bloom. The deep snow pack last year discouraged me from even trying, as the cliff plants would have been quite far along before the north-facing road melted out, and Douglasia is a very early bloomer. Two weeks ago I decided to give it a try, but, alas, I ran into snow before the turn onto Road 451 to Waterdog Lake, so I cut over to Moon Point instead (see Butterflies, Currants, Shooting Stars, and More). Yesterday (July 2), I was pretty confident I could get over to the west side of Groundhog, and I hoped that there might be at least of few flowers left on the Douglasia. Sabine Dutoit and Ingrid Ford and her sweet dog Bogy joined me. Read the rest of this entry »
After much time off, I’m back to writing descriptions for my book and am trying to finish up the arnicas. Arnicas are a difficult bunch to sort out, and I’ve been struggling to gain some understanding of them for a while now. They are variable, can hybridize, and sometimes reproduce by a form of self-sowing called apomixis. Apparently this can lead to populations with different characteristics than the norm. This genus definitely has an independent streak and doesn’t like to follow the rules.
On Tuesday (September 6), I returned to Groundhog Mountain to spend more time watching butterflies and seeing what was still in bloom. Groundhog Mountain is my go-to place when it seems too hot to do any real hiking. After stopping several times to photograph some difficult plants like the tiny-flowered spreading groundsmoke (Gayophytum diffusum), I parked in the wide spot where the bottom of Road 452 meets Road 2309. Already there were lots of butterflies including an unusually pale-bordered Lorquin’s admiral and a fresh hoary comma where the water flowed across the road. He kept disappearing on me when he closed his golden wings and his cryptic gray underside seemed to melt into the gravel road. The first of many Anna’s blues were also enjoying the damp soil. Since I only wanted to go as far as the Monardella area, just under a mile up the road, I walked up from here. It’s only 200 feet or so of elevation gain, and there really are flowers all along the road. The goldenrod was still blooming well along with loads of Eriogonum nudum. I don’t know why these weren’t of interest to the butterflies. They all seemed to be much more interested in the masses of leafy aster (Symphyotrichum foliaceum) and Cascade aster (Eucephalus ledophyllus). There were a good many fritillaries, all apparently hydaspe fritilliaries with cream undersides. I rarely see any of the species with the lovely silvery spots underneath. They seemed to be particular about the coyote mint (Monardella odoratissima). Their other favorite foodplant in my experience is horse mint (Agastache urticifolia), which blooms in one of the wetlands nearby but not along the road. There were lots of skippers and parnassians also enjoying the coyote mint, but the coppers never seemed to land on it at all. I did see one duskywing, a very dark individual, so possibly a Pacuvius, but these little guys seem very hard to tell apart.