Posts Tagged ‘Groundhog Mountain’

Groundhog Mountain Reconnoiter

The roadbanks along Road 451 were painted blue with large-flowered blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia grandiflora) and Menzies’ larkspur (Delphinium menziesii). There were also large clumps of early blue violet (Viola adunca) to complete the color scheme.

After crossing the rough road, we parked to admire the view near Logger Butte and decide where we wanted to go first. I was thrilled to find some butterfly eggs on the rockcress (Boechera sp., maybe acutina) along with an adult Julia orangetip (sorry, ours aren’t Sara orangetips anymore!), possibly the mom of the eggs.

With the Burke Herbarium Collecting Foray only a week away, but with a lot of work to do and taking time off for the foray, we decided it was our last chance to scope out potential sites, so we should split up. So on June 17, Jenny Moore, Middle Fork District botanist, and John Koenig headed up Coal Creek Road, while Jenny Lippert, Willamette National Forest botanist, and I went up to the Groundhog Mountain area. With many of our previous routes to Groundhog becoming less drivable, we decided to try the relatively short (~10 miles of gravel) and direct route from Road 21 up Road 2135. I’d never done this, but I knew members of the North American Butterfly Association were going up that way. Since we were in the big Forest Service vehicle, this was a good opportunity for me to check out the road without testing myself or my smaller vehicle. I used to drive up any road to check it out, but after all the flats I got, and with the loss of money for upkeep and the subsequent degradation of Forest Service roads, those days seem to be long gone.

Going through the private timber land, the road was actually fine and the forest quite pretty. I was surprised because I had seen very large clearcuts in the Seneca land from last year’s trip to Groundhog; they must have been off of some side roads. When we hit the National Forest land, the road condition worsened, but it was still okay. Then we reached the part I’d seen on Google Earth where there is no protective forest, just rocks on one side and a big dropoff on the other. Since I wasn’t driving (thank you Jenny!), I didn’t get too anxious, but we decided we shouldn’t send the herbarium folks that way, and after visiting several spots at Groundhog, we headed back the long way (~15 miles of gravel) past the Warner Lookout.

While the display of paintbrush (Castilleja sp.) was lovely and the view impressive, this section of Road 2135 (heavily logged by the timber company) is the kind that gives me the willies—both the rough road surface and the precipitous dropoff. Not that I looked over the edge, but in aerials (click here for Google Maps), one can see a large gash running down the side of the mountain off this corner, dropping over 600′. We stopped briefly so I could move some rocks out of the road and pick up the littered can.

We had a relatively short day since we had to return the vehicle to the Forest Service office before closing, but we managed to stop at a number of places over the course of the day, both wetlands and rocky roadcuts. It was quite fresh and beautiful with some remaining snowbanks and a number of early blooming plants. Both Jenny and I were very happy with all we saw. Here are some photographic highlights.

The wetland at the end of Road 462 was gorgeous with spring flowers, including sweeps of alpine laurel (Kalmia microphylla). Snow remains on Diamond Peak to the east.

I relocated the Nevada lewisia (Lewisia nevadensis) by the Road 462 wetland.

A very small bee enjoying the beautiful western spring beauty (Claytonia lanceolata), still blooming well near some remaining snow.

I was thrilled to see thousands of tadpoles in Waterdog Lake. Unfortunately, on two subsequent visits (one during the foray on June 25 and one on July 22), there was no evidence of tadpoles or adult toads or frogs anywhere in the area. I hope they somehow survived the heat.

An adorable Pacific chorus frog near Waterdog Lake

Acres of mountain shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) filled the large wetland at the corner of Road 2309 and Road 452. The marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala) was also still blooming.

 

Hidden Bog on Warner Mountain

What a gorgeous sight! And smell! I had to stop and smell almost every Cascade lily I passed on my way to and from the Warner Lookout.

With the gravel roads lapsing into disrepair the last few years, I hadn’t managed to make it to Groundhog Mountain, one of my very favorite places in the Western Cascades, in three years (see Butterflies and More at Groundhog Mountain), and my friend John had driven on that trip. It was past time to return. While the butterfly group (NABA) has been heading up there lately via Road 2135, I decided to take a slightly longer route up 2129 past Moon Point and the Warner Mountain lookout. That way, if there were downed trees or washouts I didn’t want to cross, I could do the Moon Point trail instead. And I was pretty sure the road would be clear to the lookout since it is used during fire season. The night before I left, I pulled out my iPhone to get the aerial image of the area saved in case I wanted to do any exploring. Just off the road near the beargrass meadows up on Warner Mountain, I noticed what appeared to be a wetland. The telltale dark squiggles of meandering water is a good indication. Hmm. If I didn’t make it to Groundhog, I would have to check this out. It was only about an acre, but you never know what might be there. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Butterfly Survey at Groundhog Mountain

Elephant head (Pedicularis groenlandica) blooming in a boggy section of the wetland at the end of Road 462.

Elephant’s head (Pedicularis groenlandica) blooming in a boggy section of the wetland at the end of Road 462.

While the Sierra Nevada blues (Agriades [Plebejus] podarce) were out and about, Willamette National Forest Service wildlife biologist Joe Doerr organized one last group butterfly survey. Now that we knew they were definitely established in the Calapooya Mountains (see the previous post, More Butterfly Surveying in the Calapooyas), we wanted to know if they had moved north across the Middle Fork of the Willamette. The area around Groundhog Mountain has an extensive network of wetlands, most of which have abundant mountain shooting stars (Dodecatheon jeffreyi), its host food plant, as well as lots of bistort (Bistorta bistortoides), its favorite nectar plant. If they were going to populate anywhere to the north of the Calapooyas, I thought Groundhog would be the ideal spot, although I had no real expectations of finding them there since I’d been there over three dozen times and never spotted them. Still, it was worth checking. And any data is important. So on Monday, July 11, Joe, Cheron Ferland, Lori Humphreys, and I, along with 4 botanists from the Middle Fork district headed off to Groundhog. Read the rest of this entry »

Two Foggy Outings

I’m a fairweather hiker and usually avoid going out on days without a good amount of sun. But sometimes it happens. On both of my last two outings, I ended up spending most of the day literally in the clouds. I don’t take anywhere near the number of photos I usually do, but I thought I’d share a few.

Bristow Prairie, 5/15/15

Molly Juillerat, Middle Fork NF district botanist, and her dog Ruby and I made the same trip John Koenig and I had done a couple of weeks before (see Bristow Prairie: 2015 Trip 2), but the low clouds gave the area a distinctly different mood. From a scientific standpoint (not from one of comfort!), it was interesting to see how much moisture the plants received without any actual rain.

fog@BP051515063

Low clouds dancing around below the road at Bristow Prairie

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More Butterflying at Groundhog Mountain

Lorquin's admiral

Lorquin’s admirals (Limenitis lorquini) tend to land on branches of shrubs and small trees, repeatedly returning to the same area. This makes photographing them easier than those that skip quickly from flower to flower.

On Thursday, August 7, Sabine and I headed up to Groundhog Mountain, accompanied by fellow North American Butterfly Association member Lori Humphreys. With the majority of the flowers on the wane, we had already figured we’d probably focus on butterflies, so it was great that Lori could come and help teach me some more about some of the tough groups like fritilliaries. She also looked a lot at the skippers, but I’m still not ready to put a lot of effort into the butterfly equivalent of LBJs (little brown jobs). Here are some photographic highlights of another lovely day on Groundhog. Read the rest of this entry »

The Day of the Caterpillar

Rangers buttons (Sphenosciadium capitellatum) attracts lots of insects, including bees, as seen here.

Rangers buttons attracts lots of insects, including bees, as seen here.

The scintillae (sparkling blue scales) on the wings of this Anna's blue are especially conspicuous.

The scintillae (sparkling blue scales) are especially evident on the lower wings of this pretty female Anna’s blue.

On August 2, Sabine Dutoit, Nancy Bray, and I went up to Groundhog Mountain for a relaxing day of enjoying flowers and butterflies and whatever else we came across. We started our day in the small sloping wetland that heads downhill to the east off of Road 2309. While most of the flowers, even in the wetlands, are finishing up early this year, it was the perfect time for Cascade grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata) and rangers buttons (Sphenosciadium capitellatum). The latter is found mainly in the southern part of the Western Cascades. It is always fun to come across. The unusual flowers have open umbels of soft, dense, spherical umbellets, the kind of thing you just have to touch. I told Nancy that this was a good host food plant for Anise swallowtails, and, sure enough, before we left the wetland, she’d found a caterpillar chewing on the leaves of a rangers buttons.

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Photographing Special Plants in Southeastern Lane County

This pretty hedgerow hairstreak was nectaring on cow parsnip (Heracleum lanatum), not usually a big favorite with butterflies around here.

Many of you know Gerry Carr’s fabulous plant photos that he donates to the Oregon Flora Project Gallery, the WTU Image Collection (the Burke Herbarium’s gallery of Washington plants), and posts on his own site, Oregon Flora Image Project. If you don’t, be sure to click on the links! Trying to photograph almost every species in Oregon is a huge undertaking, and I’ve enjoyed helping Gerry find plants in the Western Cascades that he hasn’t photographed yet. Several species still on his to do list grow in the wonderful area of southeastern Lane County that I spend so much time in. It seemed like it might be the right time to find some of those late blooming plants, so on Friday, August 10, I picked Gerry up in Lowell and headed down along Hills Creek Reservoir yet again.

Mountain campion (Silene bernardina) is covered with sticky, glandular hairs. You’ll have to wait for Gerry’s exceptional closeups.

Our first stop was Moon Point. Last year we spent the whole day at Moon Point (see Moon Point Melting Out), so this trip, we were only heading to the upper part of the Youngs Rock trail, which is easier to access from the top. With thousands of plants to photograph, one must be as efficient as possible! On the way to the trail intersection, I went poking around looking for the rare green-flowered ginger (Asarum wagneri), one of Gerry’s targets last year. I was surprised to find several still in bloom and was thrilled to find a couple of ripe seeds. The common long-tailed ginger (A. caudatum) was also still displaying flowers, and I found plenty of ripe seed. I’ve posted scans of the latter in the Seed Gallery or you can click here to see the neat fleshy appendages on the seeds. While I was searching for ginger seeds, Gerry discovered his first target plant of the day, mountain campion (Silene bernardina var. rigidula). This is a rare species I’ve only seen here, at nearby Groundhog Mountain, and at Abbott Butte. Silene species are often called catchfly and, indeed, these are sticky enough to catch insects. We photographed some really nice specimens in the shade just after the split in the trails. It was a good thing we did it then because on our way back they were in the sun and had shriveled up. I’ve noticed this with the fairly common Douglas’ campion (S. douglasii). They seem to look their best on cloudy days or first thing in the morning. Not sure why this is true, but I’m sure there’s a good explanation. Read the rest of this entry »

Aquatics and More Near Lopez Lake

Yellow pond-lilies (Nuphar polysepala) and the narrow leaves of small burreed (Sparganium natans) fill a very shallow pond in the western wetland.

After last week’s trip to Warfield Bog and Hemlock Butte (see previous post), I was interested in checking out some more places in the area. While exploring on Google Earth, I noticed several apparent wetlands in the area near Lopez Lake, just a couple of miles northeast of Hemlock Butte. From the spotty appearance of the lake in the aerial image, it also seemed likely that Lopez Lake had aquatic plants—always a plus for me. All of the areas of interest could be reached off of Road 5884, out Hwy 58 east of Oakridge. I’d been up the first half of this road a couple of times before to hike to Devil’s Garden, an area with a small wetland and a lake at the base of a talus slope, but I’d never been all the way to the end. Read the rest of this entry »

The Lure of the Little

Miniature gilia and Kellogg’s knotweed at Groundhog

On both my last two outings, part of my agenda was to relocate tiny annuals I had seen in the past. More and more, I find myself fascinated with these smallest of plants that have such a brief time in the sun. They just don’t get much respect. Sometimes I find myself ignoring large, showy perennials shamelessly calling attention to themselves with their bright colors. Instead, I look for the empty spaces in between the tall plants. Here lie an amazing array of Lilliputian annuals that can hardly be seen without kneeling or lying down (hence the name “belly plants”). But up close, they are as fascinating as the relative giants above them.

At Bristow Prairie on July 13, my first stop was just a short ways from the road up a small wash. A couple of years ago (see Bristow Prairie’s Open Gravelly Slope), I had seen some tiny popcorn flowers (Plagiobothrys spp.). Unfortunately, they are so similar that to differentiate many species you need to see the nutlets. The various patterns of bumps and ridges and the placement of the scar where the nutlets were attached to the style help distinguish one species from another. I found the little plants pretty easily, and, unlike the previous trip, they had started to form nutlets. Even unripe, it is possible to see some of the necessary characteristics. I’m pretty sure they are harsh popcorn flower (P. hispidulus), as I had suspected, but it was good to finally get a look at the nutlets. Read the rest of this entry »

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