Exploring a New Bog Near Blair Lake

My favorite part of the bog was a small section of windy creeks and pools along the northern edge. It reminded me a lot of the bog near Lopez Lake that John Koenig and I call Zen Meadow. The white flowers are grass-of-Parnassus

This sphinx moth caterpillar was hanging out on a twinberry (Lonicera involucrata) leaf.

Between finalizing Volume 2 of the Flora of Oregon (see previous post), hot summer weather, and fairly mundane trips to lower elevation sites to collect seeds, I didn’t get a lot of exploring done in August (and being on evacuation alert and smoke during the Holiday Farm fire pretty much nixed any hiking in September). But after finding the wonderful bog on Warner Mountain (see Back to Warner Mountain Bog), I did get the urge to look for new sites to botanize.

I had been planning to go back to Blair Lake to collect some seed anyway, so I took a closer look at the surrounding area on Google Earth before my trip. I noticed several areas that looked like they could be interesting wetlands that weren’t far off roads and could be combined with a trip to Blair. So, on August 9, I headed up to Blair, but when I came to the intersection of Road 733, instead of turning right to follow the sign up to Blair Lake, I stayed on Road 1934 and parked one mile farther up. Heading into the woods on the right (east), it was only about 1/8 of a mile to the wetland, although with tromping over fallen logs and such, it took 15 minutes or so (see Google Map image).

A female mariposa copper stopped for a drink on the grass-of-Parnassus.

Logging all along the south edges of the wetland somewhat spoiled the scenery, but I was quite pleased to very quickly find lots of round-leaved sundews (Drosera rotundifolia) growing among plenty of sphagnum, so it was indeed a bog. Much of the area was quite boggy, in fact, with some small, meandering creeks running through it. I set about recording a plant list on my phone. I was happy to see quite a bit of alpine meadow butterweed (Packera subnuda), an uncommon species but one that is abundant at Blair Lake. While other than that there weren’t many uncommon or otherwise exciting species, there were plenty of the typical wetland species, including skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus), marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala), mountain shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi), and elephant’s head (Pedicularis groenlandica), which should make for a lovely bloom next spring.

My timing was perfect for the late-blooming Hooded ladies’ tresses.

It was pretty late in the season for the 4600-foot elevation so most species were finished, but a beautiful show of Cascade grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata) and an abundance of ladies’ tresses (Spiranthes romanzoffiana) were at the peak of their season. Some lingering mountain boykinia (Boykinia major), Columbian monkshood (Aconitum columbianum), and bog microseris (Microseris borealis) were about the only other flowers available for the few butterflies and bees on the wing. The southeastern end becomes quite shrubby with scattered willows and a number of mountain alders (Alnus incana), a species that I generally find in exactly this sort of habitat.

Bumblebees were quite interested in the monkshood flowers, but I had the damnedest time getting a photo as they moved so quickly between flowers and disappeared inside the flower upon landing.

The masses of West Coast goldenrod were humming with the sound of bees.

After doing a reasonably thorough survey of the bog, I drove farther down the road to see how far I might get. There’s another spot that looks quite interesting in the aerial images. But while the road was fine for a while, eventually it seemed to get narrower and narrower, with alders reaching out into the road, so I turned around—perhaps another day I’ll check that out. When I got home and looked more carefully at the aerial image of the roads that lead to the other possible wetland, it was more clear to me that the road is more than likely overgrown and impassable. I might have to find an alternative route to check that one out.

I headed over to the Blair Meadows trail instead, where there were more flowers still in bloom and lots more pollinators to watch. Colorful hardhack (Spiraea douglasii), Asters (Symphyotrichum foliaceum and Canadanthus modestus), goldenrod (Solidago elongata), and mountain owl clover (Orthocarpus imbricatus) were in full bloom and drawing lots of bees and butterflies.

At Blair Meadows, a large flock of pine siskins was darting about, eating seeds of thistles and other flowers. This is the only one that sat still long enough to get its photo taken.

The seeds of western trillium .

I spent quite a while collecting seeds of great polemonium (Polemonium carneum) as I’d hoped to after seeing a stunning display of them along the road in June (see Beargrass Season at Blair Lake). Blair Lake is a popular place, and it was a Sunday, so there were other people parking at the trailhead. I wondered if they thought it was odd that I was squatting by the side of the road for so long. I hadn’t planned on it, but it also turned out to be the perfect time to collect seeds of western trillium (Trillium ovatum) in the woods. They have a golden elaiosome attached to them that attract ants who quickly harvest them, effectively dispersing them around the forest. I hope the ants weren’t too disappointed that I took some of them for my own forest.

Hardhack, asters, and goldenrod line the road near the Blair Meadows trailhead. Compare this (click here) to the photo from my June trip.

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