Return to Tidbits

My first pika of the year! As soon as we reached the talus, I stopped to look for pikas. My husband spotted this one right away. It actually appeared to be running toward us, but I’m guessing it was just looking for its own safe spot. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a clear view before it disappeared under the rocks.

On July 11, My husband, Jim, and I were joined by our friend Peter Gallagher on a trip to Tidbits Mountain. It had been 5 years since I’d been there, but Jim hadn’t been for 20 years, and it had been quite a while for Peter as well.

On our way back to the car, we passed this wasp with an impressive ovipositor (not a stinger!). Apparently, it is a Norton’s giant ichneumonid wasp (Megarhyssa nortoni). According to Wikipedia, they live in the forest, where their larvae are parasitoids of the larvae of horntail wasps.

It was interesting to see how the combination of above-normal winter snowpack and early summer drought manifested in the bloom period. The spring flowers were long gone in most places. As I expected, the gravelly areas west of the summit were completely toasted with only a few species still in bloom. 2012 was also a high snowpack year but followed by a “normal” spring. My trip that year on July 9 (see Off the Beaten Track at Tidbits) was completely different with gorgeous flowers covering the south-facing gravelly slope of what I call “the wall.”

I was surprised, however, that not only were there fresh spring flowers on the north-facing talus slope, there were several patches of snow remaining along the edges of the bottom slope. The trail was also in worse shape than I’ve ever seen it. We had to negotiate many fallen trees. The last section of road wasn’t in great shape either, and we wished we had parked at the bottom and walked after almost getting stuck going up. Still, we enjoyed our hike. No matter the season, the rock formations are always gorgeous. Here are some photographic highlights.

Edith’s checkerspot on creamy stonecrop (Sedum oregonense). Edith’s can be distinguished from the similar snowberry checkerspot by the “Edith’s line,” the black line on the hindwing that has red on both sides of it.

The western columbine (Aquilegia formosa) and beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) were at their peak on the north-facing talus slope.

One of the lovely wildflowers still blooming in the old-growth forest was queen’s cup (Clintonia uniflora). If you’re willing to get down on your knees, it has a light but pleasant fragrance.

This rufous hummingbird had an abundance of western columbine to nectar from. Lots of Mountain arnica (Arnica latifolia) also lit up the west edge of the talus slope.

Jim out near the cliff edge of “the wall.” This cool spot can be seen to the west from the summit and can be found by continuing straight on the trail west past the talus rather than turning back to reach the summit.

One of the reasons I wanted to go down to the wall was to look for larkspur (Delphinium menziesii) seed. I wasn’t the only one interested in the seeds. While I managed to collect some seed, there was plenty for this large, unknown moth caterpillar.

The view to the south from the trail to “the wall” shows the devastation from the 2020 Holiday Farm Fire along the McKenzie. The current Bedrock Fire is burning just a bit farther south but had not started yet as of this day.

3 Responses to “Return to Tidbits”

  • Leigh Blake:

    Thank you!! I’m so glad our “brief” forest fires haven’t stopped you…Love that wonderful Ichneumonid wasp..great photos…a BIT of Springtime still…we all need it.. Wish my Xerophytum tenax would bloom like that…Our Delphiniums did not appear in our meadow this year..I wonder why ( D. menzies I believe). I was planning on gathering seed too..

    Thank you for great blog!! All wonderful photos…

  • Jeffrey Caldwell:

    Caterpillars recorded as eating Delphinium spp. include:

    Noctuidae: Darker-spotted Straw Moth (Heliothis phloxiphaga). Stephen’s Gem (Megalographa biloba).

  • Thanks for the moth ID, Jeff. It does resemble the caterpillars of Heliothis on BugGuide.

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