Posts Tagged ‘Salix’

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 »

Pigeon Prairie Painted with Purple

A stunning spread of gentians in a secluded portion of Pigeon Prairie I hadn't seen before

A stunning spread of gentians in a secluded portion of Pigeon Prairie I hadn’t seen before

I spent some time attempting to photograph bees as they pushed their way into the gentian flowers. You have to be really quick!

I spent some time attempting to photograph bees as they pushed their way into the gentian flowers. You have to be really quick!

It had only been two years since my last trip to Pigeon Prairie and Little Pigeon Prairie (see Gentian Season at Pigeon Prairies), but John Koenig had never been there, and after seeing the gorgeous explorers gentian (Gentiana calycosa) on our trip to Bradley Lake the previous week (see Another Look at Aspen Meadow and Bradley Lake), I was anxious to see more gentians. There’s a great show of king’s gentian (Gentiana sceptrum) at both prairies, so on August 10, we made the long drive north to Marion County to spend a lovely day exploring Pigeon Prairie with a short stop at Parish Lake Bog on the way home since John hadn’t been there either. Nothing much new to report except that we saw lots of rough-winged swallows and more cedar waxwings chowing down on a huge gathering of some kind of insect (cranefly?) bouncing around above the surface of Parish Lake. Still, I thought people might enjoy some photos of the gorgeous gentians at Pigeon Prairie. Even non-flower lovers would probably take pause at these statuesque purple beauties! Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring the West Side of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide

Last summer, while I was hiking around the Yellow Jacket Loop at Hemlock Lake (Searching for Erythronium at Hemlock Lake), I saw something in the distance that always gets my heart racing—a big cliff. It was a ways off to the southeast, presumably in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide. Checking it out later on Google Earth, it turned out the cliff was on the north side of Grasshopper Mountain in Douglas County (not to be confused with the one I usually go to in Lane County). I was thrilled to discover there is a trail right to the summit where an old lookout once stood, as well as a number of other trails in the area. While I had been to the east side of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide a number of times—and it is one of my favorite areas in the Western Cascades—I’d never done much exploring on the west side. Twice I’d driven through Tiller to go up to Abbott Butte and Donegan Prairie, but my only real stop had been to the World’s Tallest Sugar Pine, just off of Jackson Creek Road 29. I was determined to do a trip there as soon as possible, but somehow I never made it. Every time I had a block of time when I could spend a few days camping, there was a heat wave, expectations of thunderstorms, smoke, or some other deterrent. Since it is more than a 3-hour drive to get there, I didn’t want to spend that much time or energy if the conditions weren’t optimal.

From Buckeye Lake, there is a great view of the imposing 800' cliffs of Grasshopper Mountain.

From Buckeye Lake, there is a great view of the imposing cliffs of Grasshopper Mountain.

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Another Exciting Day in the Calapooyas: The Sequel

Sliver Rock

Sliver Rock is awesome pillar rock that protrudes from the slope below Road 3810 in the Boulder Creek Wilderness. There seems to be a lot of confusion about the name. The USGS quad map shows it as “Sliver Rock,” but their website lists it as “Silver Rock”. The Forest Service District maps that cover the area are also divided about the name. I’m going to keep calling it Sliver Rock because it really is like a thin sliver, and there’s nothing silvery about it. John and I contemplated how and whether we might be able to reach the rock. It looks challenging but too enticing not to give it a try…some day.

John Koenig and I had such a great day last week (see Another Exciting Day in the Calapooyas) that we wanted to pick up where we left off, so, on Thursday, June 4, we headed back up Coal Creek Road 2133 to our usual parking spot east of Loletta Lakes. We hadn’t gotten this far last week until 6pm, so we wanted to spend more time here and see the area in the sun. When we arrived, the area was under a cloud that obscured the ridge just above us. John was confident it would burn off, and indeed, within just a few minutes, we were under blue skies. The rest of the day was gorgeous, sunny, and pleasantly cool. Read the rest of this entry »

A Glorious Day Near Lopez Lake

Subalpine spiraea was at peak bloom in here at "Zen Meadow".

Subalpine spiraea (Spiraea splendens) was at peak bloom here at “Zen Meadow” and also at Lopez Lake.

Two years ago, Sabine Dutoit and I first discovered the beauty of Lopez Lake and the surrounding area near the end of Road 5884 (see Aquatics and More Near Lopez Lake), southeast of Oakridge. I was really looking forward to doing some more exploring up there, so on Thursday, July 17, I headed up there accompanied by Sabine and John Koenig. The three of us had gone to Bristow Prairie the week before and spent the day under cloudy skies and sprinkles, so we were all thrilled that it was an absolutely gorgeous clear day and also not as hot as it had been lately. Before heading to the end of the road, we made a quick stop to check out three small lakes that showed up on the map. Only one had any water left, and there weren’t many flowers or plants of interest other than some quillwort (Isoëtes sp.), an odd grass-like plant that grows in the bottoms of shallow lakes. This lake looked like a perfect mosquito breeding area, and indeed they were out in numbers here, so we didn’t linger here very long. Read the rest of this entry »

Quaking Aspen Swamp is Decorated in Pink

Pretty patches of pink alpine laurel (Kalmia microphylla) could be seen all over Quaking Aspen Swamp.

Pretty patches of pink alpine laurel (Kalmia microphylla) could be seen all over Quaking Aspen Swamp.

Two long-necked pink birds nibbling on a delicacy? Actually mountain shooting stars and their best friends marsh marigolds.

Two long-necked pink birds nibbling on a delicacy? Actually mountain shooting stars and their best friends, marsh marigolds.

Mother Nature is an avid decorator, so much so that she changes her color scheme every few weeks. On Sunday (May 25) at Quaking Aspen Swamp, she was going for a pink and white theme with yellow accents. On the way down the trail were many western trilliums (Trillium ovatum), some fresh white, others aging to pink and even purple. Pink fairy slippers (Calypso bulbosa) were in their prime. White candyflower (Claytonia sibirica) was in bloom, and its larger cousin, heart-leaf miner’s lettuce (C. cordifolia), was just beginning along one of the side creeks. Last week at Elk Camp, its anthers were opening up to reveal black pollen, but here they kept with the theme and showed only pink anthers. The little red and white flowers of vine maple (Acer circinatum) fit in well. Scattered round-leaved violets (Viola orbiculata) and a lone glacier lily (Erythronium grandiflorum) added touches of yellow.

The open wetland was quite stunning. Grand sweeps of marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala) and mountain shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) covered much of the area with their white and pink blossoms. Underneath, trying to get noticed, were large patches of Gorman’s buttercup (Ranunculus gormanii). Despite their bright yellow flowers, they are just too small and too close to the ground to get much attention under the far larger marsh marigolds and shooting stars. This is the common buttercup of wetlands in the southern half of the Western Cascades, but it was my first time seeing it this year, as the last few wetlands I’ve been to were all home to the larger and showier but less common mountain buttercup (R. populago). Interesting how almost every Cascade wetland seems to have one and only one species of buttercup. North of the mountain buttercup sites, water-plantain buttercup (R. alismifolius) seems to predominate. Read the rest of this entry »

Early Blooming at Elk Camp and Nevergo Meadow

Mountain shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi and marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala)

Mountain shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) and marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala) put on a great show at the Elk Camp meadow. Note how similar this photo is to one I took here last year on June 10.

shooting star flowers go through a number of changes as they bloom. Buds start out upright, then bend over. The flower petals start out forward, then they flip back. This makes it easier for bees to do "buzz pollination" where they hang on the style and their buzzing shakes the pollen onto them.

Shooting star flowers go through a number of changes as they bloom. Buds start out upright, then bend over. The flower petals and sepals start out forward, then they flip back. This makes it easier for bees to do “buzz pollination” where they hang on the style, and their buzzing shakes the pollen onto them. Mountain shooting star has flower parts in 5s, long styles, and glandular pedicels.

With the mountains melting out fast, it is time to go willow hunting in earnest, so on Tuesday, May 20, I headed up to the wetlands at Elk Camp, Nevergo Meadow, and Saddleblanket Mountain. As it turns out, this is the exact date I went to Nevergo last year (see Wetland Bloom Starts with a Bang Near Elk Camp Shelter). Last year I was stopped by snow across the road just at the trailhead for Elk Camp and didn’t bother to go into the meadow, being quite satisfied with everything blooming at Nevergo Meadow a quarter mile earlier. This year, there were just a few very small patches of snow in the ditches. The plants were a little farther along but still quite beautiful and fresh. In fact, they were almost as far along as they were on June 10, last year (see Back to Elk Camp Shelter—Not Once But Twice). The skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) was especially noticeable as being ahead of last year. All three locations had beautiful shows of marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala) at peak bloom with Mountain shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) just coming on. Along the drier edges of the meadows were lots of the gorgeous blue Oregon bluebells (Mertensia bella). At the edges where the last snow had melted there were still plenty of glacier lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum). Along the roadside were blooming Lyall’s anemone (Anemone lyallii) and round-leaved violet (Viola orbiculata). Read the rest of this entry »

Willows and More Blooming at Ikenick Creek

Sitka sedge (Carex aquatilis) blooming along the edge of the south pond in the northwest wetland.

Sitka sedge (Carex aquatilis) blooming along the edge of the south pond in the northwest wetland.

Crab spiders know that willows are insect pollinated and has caught an unsuspecting bee on Geyer's willow (Salix geyeriana).

Crab spiders know that willows are insect pollinated and lay in wait for prey like this unsuspecting bee on Geyer’s willow (Salix geyeriana).

On Friday (May 16), Dave Predeek and I went to check out some of the wetlands along Ikenick Creek in the Smith Ridge area. Dave is one of the few people I’ve met who was already familiar with this fascinating area. The willows were mostly still in bud two weeks ago (see Triple Treat up the McKenzie), so I thought this would be the perfect time to see them in bloom. Indeed it was. We spent most of our time exploring the large wetland just south of Road 2672. The large thickets of Geyer’s willow (Salix geyeriana) were all blooming. They are pretty easy to recognize because they have very small and relatively short catkins. In small patches near the southern end of the wetland, we found Sierra willow (Salix eastwoodiae) and Booth’s willow (S. boothii) in bloom. They both have much larger and showier flowers; the former has hairy ovaries while the latter has glabrous ovaries and fewer hairs on the leaves. I don’t think I could separate the males this time of year. Later on, the leaves of Booth’s willow are shinier, but this early they both have some hairs. Read the rest of this entry »

Triple Treat up the McKenzie

Left) A very fresh brown elfin on a male Sitka willow flower. Right) A echo (spring) azure on a female Sitka willow flower.

Left) A very fresh brown elfin (the purple scales don’t last long) on a male Sitka willow flower. Right) An echo (spring) azure on a female Sitka willow flower.

With the warm spring weather beckoning, Sabine and I headed up the McKenzie Highway on Wednesday (April 30) to see how the bloom was coming along in several favorite sites. Our first stop was to the main wetland at Ikenick Creek. I’d never been there anywhere near this early, and although there were lots of spring flowers on last spring’s early June trip (see The Stars are Shining at Ikenick Creek), I was a bit late for the willows. This year, I wanted to try to catch this area at the very beginning of the season. A few remnants of snow along the north-facing side of the road indicated it was indeed early here. The air was fantastic—so fresh and not hot yet. As soon as we got out of the car, we saw some blooming sitka willow (Salix sitchensis) by the roadside that was serving breakfast to a number of insects, including several brown elfins and echo (formerly spring) azures—an auspicious start to the day! Read the rest of this entry »

Insects and Flowers at Saddleblanket and Elk Camp Wetlands

It had been 4 weeks since I had been to the wetlands at the base of Saddleblanket Mountain and in the area near Elk Camp, so since I am trying to track the whole season of bloom there, it was time for a return visit. John Koenig had never been to the wetlands, so he accompanied me on Thursday, July 11. With John along, I took advantage of his knowledge of graminoids to try and learn a bit more about the many sedges, grasses, rushes, and woodrushes that are found in wetlands. While I can’t remember everything he showed me, I was happy to make some progress and learn to at least recognize some of the species, even if I can’t remember all their names yet.

Platanthera dilatata

We couldn’t have timed it any better for the white bog orchids, which were at peak bloom and in perfect shape.

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