Archive for the ‘Butterflies’ Category

Right Back to Groundhog and Warner Mountains

From the ridge above the talus slope on Warner Mountain, you can see northeast to nearby Logger Butte (the rocky spot at the top left-middle catching a little light). Talus is the favorite habitat of western boneset (Ageratina occidentalis). Its pinky purple flowers have been replaced by fluffy seed heads. While it is found at mid to high elevations, I have a plant I grew from seed that has been blooming well in my rock garden for 20 years or so.

After my previous outing (see A “Berry” Surprising Day at Groundhog and Warner Mountains), I contacted Jim Pringle, the author of the Flora of North America Gentianaceae treatment, who also assisted us with the treatment for the Flora of Oregon. He’s the person I’ve been communicating with about gentians for many years (see The Quest for Enemion Flowers at Table Rock). I attached some photos to my e-mail, including a scan of a specimen I had collected from the Warner Mountain bog for the OSU herbarium a couple of years ago. He pointed out that there was a small rosette at the base of the plant. I hadn’t recognized that as a rosette because it was so small relative to the whole plant. Read the rest of this entry »

Late Season at Mistmaiden Meadow

Beautiful fall color in the thickets of oval-leaved viburnum that grow on the slopes of Mistmaiden Meadow

In the wetland along Road 140, there were still trillium-leaved wood sorrel (Oxalis trilliifolia) in bloom. Its leaves are similar to the far more common Oregon wood sorrel (O. oregana), but the flowers are in clusters and bloom later, and they grow in very wet spots.

Thank heavens for the wonderful rain on August 31! I had been so worried we’d have to wait until October for some decent rain, like last year. We got 3/4″ of an inch at my house, probably more in the mountains. That was followed by almost of week of cool, cloudy weather, and even a little more rain. It tamped down the fires, reduced the smoke, and made it much easier for the firefighters to contain the fires. In fact, The Forest Service reduced the south end of the closure area near the Bedrock Fire. That meant I could finally return to “Mistmaiden Meadow” near Sourgrass Mountain, where I had hoped to survey throughout the flowering season. My last trip had been on July 7 (see Fourth Trip of the Year to Mistmaiden Meadow), and I’d planned to go back on July 23 until I realized the Bedrock Fire had started the day before. I had missed two whole months, so I was really anxious to get back. On September 6, the first nice day I had free after the welcome cool and rainy weather abated, I headed up there. Read the rest of this entry »

Dodder at Patterson Mountain

The meadow by the Lone Wolf Shelter was quite pretty with lots of scarlet paintbrush (Castilleja miniata) and celery-leaved lovage (Ligusticum apiifolium), but the smoke was unpleasant, so I didn’t stay long. Weeks later, this little smoke would have seemed like a good day!

A tangle of mountain dodder in the rocky meadow at Patterson Mountain

On Sunday, July 23, I left the house planning to head back up to “Mistmaiden Meadow” for my fifth every-other-week-or-so survey. As I headed toward Lowell, something looked terribly wrong. I could see an ominous bank of gray smoke to the east. I stopped to call my husband to see if he could find out where it was coming from—I don’t have a data plan on my phone, so I couldn’t check that way. It turns out the Bedrock Fire had started the afternoon before by the Bedrock Campground along Big Fall Creek Road 18. Obviously, I didn’t want to go anywhere near the fire, so Mistmaiden Meadow was out of the question. I had no idea in which direction and how far the smoke was going to move, but I also didn’t want to bail on going on an outing. I made a quick decision to go to Patterson Mountain. It was one of the closest trails to Lowell, slightly west of the fire, and south of Highway 58—the fire being over 10 miles north of the highway. I figured the smoke would mostly blow to the east, and if I was wrong and had to come home early, at least I wouldn’t have driven too far. Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Balm Mountain’s Slippery Slopes

The slope right below the lookout site is extremely steep and slippery. I didn’t even attempt going down there, although someday I think I might get to the bottom by following the trees down along the north edge. The tallest points in the distance are Mt. Thielsen and Mt. Bailey.

Great arctics have a two-year life cycle, so the adults tend to be abundant every other year. This year is an “off year,” but I’ve seen several this summer.

Balm Mountain, the highest point in the Calapooyas, has been one of my favorite places ever since I discovered it in 2010 (see First Exploration of Balm Mountain). Several times I’ve walked the trailless ridge between the old lookout at the north end and the high point at the south end, starting at both the north and south ends. What I’d never had time or energy to do was to head down the steep, gravelly slopes on the east side at the north end of the ridge. On July 18, I was on my own, so it seemed like a good time to see how much of this was traversable. Most of my friends either can’t or wouldn’t want to negotiate such a steep and unstable habitat, and I’d never ask them to. I also wanted to spend some time watching butterflies, which are particularly abundant in rocky areas of the Calapooyas when the mountain coyote mint (Monardella odoratissima) is in bloom; it had just been starting at Potter Mountain when I was there a couple of weeks earlier (see Finally Back to Potter Mountain). Read the rest of this entry »

Staying Cool at Quaking Aspen Swamp

We hit peak bloom for the sundews. These are great sundew (Drosera anglica or perhaps hybrids of anglica and the nearby D. rotundifolia).

It wasn’t a big day for butterflies, and in fact a good percentage of the ones we saw had fallen prey to the sticky sundews. This looks like another thicket hairstreak (see previous report for a photo of a live one) or Johnson’s hairstreak.

Molly Juillerat e-mailed me to see if I wanted to go out on Sunday, July 16. It was supposed to be hot, around 90° in the Valley, not my first choice of a day for an outing. But I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to go out with Molly, especially as we both knew that since she’s the district ranger, if (most likely, when) a fire started in the Middle Fork District, she wouldn’t be able to go hiking and would have to focus on fire management. Whether from active fires or smoke drifting from farther away, these days one can’t count on hiking in the Cascades in August.

This turned out to be a good decision as the Bedrock Fire started the following weekend, on July 22. Molly had been out of state the previous week, and her dogs, Loki and Pico, had a lot of pent-up energy from being left at home and were also in need of a day in the mountains. We decided to head up to Quaking Aspen Swamp—an easy half-mile hike and a wetland with lots of moisture and no hot rocks to burn the dogs’ feet. Read the rest of this entry »

Butterflying on Coal Creek Road

We couldn’t go up Coal Creek Road without checking out the amazing spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium) patch just past the 4-way intersection at the top of the crest (43.3998°N, -122.4561°W). We delighted in the abundance of butterflies and the intoxicating fragrance of the flowers. While most of the visitors were checkerspots, we also saw some fritillaries, parnassians, coppers, and all three of our “ladies,” including this American lady.

Julia’s orangetips rarely sit still long enough to photograph them, so I was really pleased to capture this lovely male who was making the rounds of the tall bluebells (Mertensia paniculata) growing in the roadside ditches.

Coal Creek Road 2133 which leads up to the west end of the Calapooyas is one of my favorite places to do roadside botanizing and butterflying. It’s also one of John Koenig’s, so on July 13, we drove up there for an easy day as John was still recovering from some foot issues and wasn’t up to a real hike. It was warm, but there was still enough moisture in the many seeps and creeks along the road to nourish the flowers, which in turn attracted lots of butterflies. Here are some photographic highlights.

We scared up a family of grouse along the road. The cute babies all flew up into the trees.

Read the rest of this entry »

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Fourth Trip of the Year to Mistmaiden Meadow

There were at least five large areas of narrowleaf mule’s ears in the lower half of Mistmaiden Meadow.

I was surprised to see three different blooming clumps of Oregon iris (Iris tenax) along Road 140. While very common at low elevations, this is only the second area I’ve ever found them above 3500′. In eastern Lane County, they usually give way to slender-tubed iris (I. chrysophylla) at about 1500′.

On July 7, I headed back up to the meadow on the west side of Sourgrass Mountain that I’m calling “Mistmaiden Meadow.” My first stop was the roadside along the east end of Road 140 with beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) and other goodies because it had been an interesting spot on the previous trips. As I mentioned in the report on my last trip (see “Mistmaiden Meadow” Still Outstanding), there were a number of butterflies there, so I wanted to see what was flying about at this point. Once again, I saw several pretty bramble green hairstreaks. Also present were silver-spotted skippers and persius duskywings. What do these three butterflies have in common? They all use big deervetch (Hosackia crassifolia, formerly Lotus crassifolius) as a host food plant for their caterpillars. This species likes disturbed areas and is abundant along the road here. It appeared to be attracting a lot of other insects as well. Bumblebees were busy flying from one flower to the next. I found several caterpillars that did not look like butterflies munching through the leaves. New for me were some tiny and strange-looking lace bugs (Corythucha sp.), but they were so small my photos didn’t come out well enough to include. I wouldn’t have thought about planting something as large as big deervetch—and I’ve never seen it advertised by a nursery—but it seems this species is very popular with insects, and it isn’t unattractive, with its reddish flowers and glaucous leaves. Maybe I’ll collect some seeds on one of my return trips. Read the rest of this entry »

Finally Back to Potter Mountain

On the east side of the ridge, the gravel is filled with marumleaf buckwheat (Eriogonum marifolium). This attracted a lot of pollinators.

A spring white caterpillar has just shed its skin to allow it to grow a bit more. I checked most of the rockcress (Boechera sp.) I saw. I found this caterpillar and another smaller one as soon as we hit the rocky area. I only spotted one egg. In the phlox area, I chased a fast-moving adult white who never let me get close enough for an ID, but it might also have been a spring white.

Several years ago, my husband Jim and I tried to get up to Potter Mountain, but the winter storms had left so many branches on the road that we gave up in frustration. I really wanted him to see the beautiful rocks up there, so I had again planned to go up last year, but then a fire broke out right next to the summit—the Potter Mountain fire. Thwarted again. The third time’s a charm, they say, and we did finally make it up there on July 2. It was a beautiful day—though a bit warm—so we had a great view of the surrounding mountains. We bushwhacked north on the ridge as far as the helicopter landing spot—only about 6/10 of a mile from the road. We’d missed most of the early-season flowers, but there were still plenty of things in bloom and enough butterflies to keep me happy. And since we accessed Potter Mountain via Staley Creek Road 2134 (in good shape, by the way), we were able to cool off at the end of the day with a short stop at the wonderful Staley Creek Gorge. Here are some photographic highlights of our day. Read the rest of this entry »

Butterflying with an Expert at Bristow Prairie

Neil Bjorklund at the rock garden all geared up for a day of butterfly photography.

One of the odd cat’s ears (Calochortus sp.) I’ve seen so often at Bristow Prairie. Not only does it have two extra petals, it’s not clear which species it is.

It had been almost 20 years since I’d had the opportunity to go out in the field with butterfly expert Neil Bjorklund. Neil’s website Butterflies of Oregon is the resource for the butterflies of our state, and he was a co-founder of our local chapter of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA). On June 28, we headed up to Bristow Prairie, one of my all-time favorite spots. Neil had been to Bristow Prairie a number of times, but he hadn’t been to the small wetlands that—as far as we know at present—are the northernmost outposts of Sierra Nevada blues. He also wasn’t aware of the south-facing bald I call “the rock garden” or “Lewisia Point,” two other excellent places to see butterflies. Our trip was mutually beneficial—I showed him my favorite spots, and he taught me a lot more about identifying butterflies. Read the rest of this entry »

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