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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Field Trip : Hazel Wolf Wildlife Sanctuary

I made a field trip this morning with the Washington Native Plant Society


This is a new group for me and I certainly hope to learn a lot and meet some interesting people.
There were about a dozen of us, most of the folks new each other well. The weather was perfect with no wind or rain. This allowed for leisurely rambles. Those of us afflicted with the Shutterbug quickly fell to the rear.

This area is in the middle of a rapidly developing community. The large marsh that is encircles serves as a wonderful centerpiece. The dominating trees were Western Red Cedar and Big Leaf maple. Everywhere there were small two leaved sprouts of maple. The buds were falling from the trees. They are soft and disappointingly have no scent. One woman explained to me that since maples are wind pollinated, they do not need to produce a scent to attract pollinators.

The woods were filled with many small songbirds. I heard a lot of Purple Finch and chickadees. I had a nice spotting of this female Hairy Woodpecker working of a fallen Western Red Cedar.

A small group of us got side tracked when we heard a Virginia Rail in the reeds near the marsh. The bird carried on and we knew we were about three to five feet from it, but we never saw it. Rails like to live in marshy areas and camouflage well in the reeds. They can move about without disturbing the rushes and giving away their spot. Even though there were four of us looking and the bird continued to give its distinctive clapping call, we never spotted the bird.

I was thrilled to find twinberry in bloom. Last summer I found the end point, a stunning red bracketed black berry that I spotted in my binoculars from across a meadow. The starting point for this honeysuckle family member is quite different. You can tell it is a honeysuckle...

Then you get delicate yellow flowers.

At the end of the season you get this bold black berry in red bracts. This photo from the north trail at Esmeralda Basin last August.

Everyone seemed to have a different area of expertise. One gentleman was an expert on sedge , rushes and grasses an area I know almost nothing about. It is overwhelming but every nugget of knowledge helps.

I observed a couple brushing the dead leaves under a sword fern. I asked them what they were looking for (thinking mushrooms) and the replied Salamanders! We didn't see any but I did find this Pacific Tree Frog. Everyone got a good look as the little fellow was surrounded by tiny flying bugs. It looked like a good feeding spot. The light was perfect for some pictures. He was pretty patient with us.

Along the way we found Trillium, always one of my favorites. These flowers will gradually turn to deep purple as they age. Ants will carry off the seeds, which have a sweet oily coating. The Coastal Natives said if you picked Trillium it would cause the rain to come. I suspect that was a good bet on the Pacific coast where 200+ inches per year is the norm. By the end of April many of the Trillium will be past. Bridle Trails SP in Kirkland is a place you can find stunning carpets of very mature, large Trillium.

Despite one gruff senior member saying ( with a wink) binoculars (thus bird watching) were "forbidden" on his trips. I reminded him that there were many plant and bird interactions to be happily observed. I later told him we had been observing the interaction of Reed Canary Grass and Virginia Rail.

The sugary scent of Cottonwood is quite obvious now. One member said a friend of hers sometimes picks up buds from the trees and keeps them in his wallet for the scent. We looked at each other and said "STICKY!" They are Oh so sticky. But you have to love a nature nut!

I was thrilled to find this Tall Oregon Grape just starting to bud. The colors and the form make an interesting picture

Witches butter, a fungus. This was certainly one of the biggest lumps I have ever seen. Yellow is a challenging color to photograph, that is for sure. This fungus isn't slimy ( wet) but is is pretty soft.

Hazel Wolf was a dynamic force to be reckoned with. Her legacy of caring for people and the environment will live on. I will return to this special place and enjoy it through the seasons.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! I learned a number of things. Lovely photos.