Great Gray Owl at Moon Point!

Cottongrass by Moon Lake

Spiranthes stellata, note the starry (not hooded) flowers in a single rank

Sabine and I went to Moon Point yesterday. I wanted to look more carefully around Moon Lake. We went there first taking a short cut from spur road 444 so we could wear our rubber boots and do the trail separately later in regular shoes. Only addition was Platanthera sparsiflora north of the lake. I still haven’t figured out the Potamogeton there but got some pictures and will try to learn them. There was some Parnassia cirrata and Comarum palustre in bloom and lots of pretty cottongrass. Absolutely no sign left of the Lewisia pygmaea we saw in July, but I wasn’t so surprised about that. The tiny pond had dried up as usual and had some Rorippa and tiny Plagiobothrys like I saw last year. Don’t know if I’ll ever learn those.

On our way up the road to the trailhead we stopped when I saw some Spiranthes on the roadside. It’s only the second place I’ve seen them blooming so far this season. They turned out to be Spiranthes stellata! There were about 30–40 in bloom, and when I dug one up for the Herbarium, there were half a dozen tiny plants up against it. They must make offsets. Interestingly, the article Paul Martin Brown put in the NPSO Bulletin says they have single descending tubers. The plant I dug up had multiple tubers, but the tiny vegetative plants next to it definitely had single descending tubers. The ones in my picture don’t descend because they are just too plump. None of the plants were more than maybe 9″ tall. It is a delicate thing. There was a wet ditch to the right of the creek, but that was more north-facing and in the shade. No Spiranthes there but lots of Platanthera stricta and Boykinia occidentalis, neither of which were in the sunny ditch.

Great gray owl

When we finally arrived at the Moon Point trailhead, we had a great experience. After spending the whole morning checking out the Moon Lake area from spur road 444, we got to the main trailhead at about 2:30pm. We were quickly surprised by a giant bird zipping past us. He/she landed in a tree briefly but disappeared again. We went out onto the log to look at the blooming Lilium pardalinum in the tiny wetland near the beginning of the trail when he appeared again and flew over to a nearby tree. He stayed long enough for me to get one good photo then flew off again, seemingly just a little ways away, but we didn’t see him again. Still, it was a real thrill to see an owl, and in midafternoon no less. Out on the rock on the main trail, there were still some blossoms on the Hieracium greenei and some seeds. Still no new plants right there though. We could see a fire started on the North Umpqua past Bearbones, so we just headed back.

Clodius parnassian on bistort (Bistorta bistortoides)

In the slide show I gave last month, I mentioned the Lorquin’s Admiral I see at Moon Point in the same area every year. Well, one landed right where I mentioned, just after telling Sabine to keep her eyes open for one when we got there. It was the only one we saw all day. That’s at least 4 generations in the same small set of little conifers at the end of the meadow. They must keep the territory in the family. We saw loads of fritillaries, northern Anna’s blues, and parnassians, but not much else. Where are the coppers this year?

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