Posts Tagged ‘oak’

Farther Up “Milkweed Ridge”

Like many openings in the area, the southernmost one in the complex had Oregon white oaks (Quercus garryana) being crowded out by ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa) and other conifers. Enhancing oak habitat has been the main focus of restoration in the area. Hopefully now improving the area for milkweed and monarchs will also be a priority.

Having found purple milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) and monarchs at Monarch Meadow (see Hidden Meadow Reveals a Thrilling Secret) and at the meadow complex north of there (see A Week of Monarchs and Milkweed: Day 1), the next logical place to check was another complex of openings even farther up the ridge. On July 5, Joe Doerr and I headed up there to investigate. These openings also follow the old road that the middle complex is along, so we felt particularly confident we would find more milkweed. We decided to drive in from the north on an old but (barely) driveable road. I had been on that road several times years ago, to access what Sabine and I call “Gateway Rock Ridge” (see First Outing of the New Year for the most recent trip), but I can’t imagine doing it now. The tire tracks seemed to be sinking down and lots of vegetation was reaching out into the road from the surrounding forest. Thank goodness we were in a Forest Service rig!

Unfortunately, mortality is very high for these tiny monarch caterpillars. Most get picked off by wasps and other predators when they are quite small.

We parked at the top of the old road and saw ground rose (Rosa spithamea) in bloom right by the car. From there we walked south. Before long we came to the first opening, lying right along the ridge. Sticky birdbeak (Cordylanthus tenuis) grew abundantly here along with western rayless fleabane (Erigeron inornatus). These normally uncommon species have been showing up at most of the other milkweed sites, so it was a good sign. There had also evidently been a great display of showy tarweed (Madia elegans), but it was already shriveling up in the heat of the day. We didn’t spot any milkweed at first, but then we started to see it scattered about in several openings. We found monarch caterpillars and eggs as well. Mission accomplished! We walked as far down the road as the uppermost meadow of the middle complex that we’d both already been to on separate trips. So now we knew the area all along the old road and started back toward the car. Read the rest of this entry »

More Discoveries Just South of Bristow Prairie

I had to wade into this little pond to photograph this amazing display of white water buttercup (Ranunculus aquatilis).

I had to wade into this little pond to photograph the amazing display of white water buttercup (Ranunculus aquatilis).

After our great day on Friday (see A Grand Day Exploring Bristow Prairie’s Varied Habitats), John and I were both anxious to do more exploring near Bristow Prairie. We had originally thought we might be able to head down along the trail to the south, but we ran out of time on Friday, so we thought it would be well worth a return trip. I wanted to get back before the heatwave dried up all the little annuals, so we headed back up again on Monday, July 1 (July already!).

We wanted to hike in from the southern trailhead, which is a little ways past Bradley Lake, so we headed up Coal Creek Road 2133. We stopped briefly at a seep along the roadcut where we found a new population of Thompson’s mistmaiden (Romanzoffia thompsonii). Unfortunately, a whole family of ticks also discovered me. I had to flick at least 10 off my pants before entering the car. I really hate ticks, but the feeling doesn’t seem to be mutual. At least we got the low point of the day out of the way quickly. Although I wanted to get the hike done first and make our stops on the way back, especially because the heat of the day, we couldn’t help ourselves and had to check out at least a few of our favorite places along this long but floriferous route. A shallow pond was filled with water buttercup. Many butterflies were enjoying the spot, too. One of them, a hoary comma, became enamored of John and spent quite some time checking out his hat, shirt, and binoculars. We finally had to send him on his way, so we could get back into the car and on our way. Just a little ways before the trailhead, I finally got to experience the fabulous bloom of a large area of spreading phlox, growing in what look like they might be gravel piles created when the road was built. I’d collected seeds there before but had never been early enough for the flowers. Read the rest of this entry »

Further Exploration of Cloverpatch

The lower meadows and cliffs at the east end of Cloverpatch Butte can be seen from across the river.

The lovely sunny weather of the last week made me anxious to go for a real hike, so yesterday (February 4), I decided to continue my attempt to survey all the meadows of Cloverpatch Butte. This time my goal was to explore the large area directly below the largest meadow the trail cuts through. I wasn’t entirely sure it would be possible—there are cliffs at the base of every section of meadow—but it was worth trying. Then, if I could find a good route, it would save me time when I return after the flowers are actually out.

The unusual cotyledon leaves of Clarkia species look a bit like bowling pins.

After a quick stop at the Black Canyon Campground to get a look at the meadows from across the river, I drove up to the trailhead on Tire Creek Road 5826. Thankfully the road is in fine condition. This early in the year, you can’t count on that. I was a little surprised to see quite a few snow queen (Synthyris reniformis) starting to bloom along the trail. There were far more than at my house, a thousand feet lower in elevation. There were lots of fairy slipper (Calypso bulbosa) leaves evident, some quite a deep purple. This is a great trail for viewing these gorgeous flowers. I was able to collect five more types of seeds to scan for my new gallery, but most plants had already dispersed all their seeds. Many seedlings are already up, among them Nemophila parvifolia and a Clarkia, most likely amoena from the tall dead stalks above them. I’ve seen three species here, so I can’t be sure. Read the rest of this entry »

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