Saturday, January 30, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Last Spring and Summer I encountered many new plants and flowers. I was able to figure out most of them, but one left me perplexed. I posted it on a Bulletin Board I belong to in hope that someone else might have an idea. One member there suggested posting it to a Flickr Forum.
I was not familiar with Flickr. I quickly discovered a wonderful place where I could solve mysteries and perhaps learn a thing or two about photography. I posted my mystery picture and it was not long before someone suggested a possible genus. From that thought I was able to figure out its identity in the University of Washington Herbarium site. This is Washington Twinpod, the seed pod stage at Red Top Lookout north of Cle Elum.
This park is about 250 acres and encompasses the small peninsula just west of the Anacortes ferry dock. I had been there once before and remembered that it had some unusual areas. I thought that I should go take a look and see what is possible come this Spring.
I am really looking forward to returning in a few months. The guide nicely lists some rare delights like Chocolate Lily, Hookers Onion and Spotted Coral Root. Given how mild the winter has been I will likely start checking out the areas early in March. It will be a tune up for the wild flowers of the dry eastern Washington ecology which start showing off in April.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I spent another morning working with the Nisqually Land Trust on the Powell Creek property. This is the farm that I wrote about in late September. Since then much more debris was trucked away. There are still large concrete foundations to be broken up and removed but I could see the open area is doing quite well.
This is the staging area. Aaron is holding a bundle of 20 trees. We place tubes around the trees and the whole unit is staked to the ground. The tubes protect the young tree from deer and elk. The tubes and stakes are prepackaged in bundles of 20 in the bags filling the right side of the shed. Add a shovel and mallet and you are set.
Aaron has two pre-teen boys who he feels might benefit in getting out and doing some activities like this. I told him that I thought it was a great way for the family to have some time together. Aaron had mentioned a little crossroads place up the highway that had great hot dogs. Sounds like a family work morning followed by hot dogs is in the future.
In no time we planted about 80 hemlocks. There was lots of chatting and everything went at an easy pace. Once again the weather was fantastic. There was some great sky drama with bold clouds and rapid changes that seems to say the weather is setting up to be a bit wild.
The neighbor farm certainly makes a pretty picture.
The open area just south from Septembers work party is staked with flags for the work corps coming in.
This poor tree was harvested or trimmed poorly. It is trying to hang in there.
The weather certainly looks as if it is going to be changing over the next few days and certainly what the weather will be depends on what side of the convergence zone you are on. I hope for more big dramatic skies and low winds.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I try to get out on a daily walk at work. The loop takes me down to a pond and marsh complex. The weather was so wonderful I think I saw more people out and about than I have on all the days this month.
As I was nearing the end of the trail by the marsh I heard a loud strong bird sound. I did not recognize the call but I thought it might be a blackbird of some kind so I stopped to watch for it.
In almost no time an Anna's Hummingbird appeared and shot straight up into the air.
I knew what was next thanks to the wonderful show linked above. Hummingbird males perform territory display, usually to court females. They race up high then dive towards their selected spot. At the bottom of their dive they make a characteristic sound, unique to their species. I am familiar with the common Rufus Hummingbird display. I had always thought they were vocal sounds but from the show I learned that it was air through the tail feathers.
Just like the old trick of blowing across grass blades.
The hummer performed three more dives and I was amazed with how loud the ending "Cheerup" sound was.
All of a sudden two other birds appeared and they had a fast set-to with bickering swooping and chasing.
I had to laugh and I said "Boys, it is only January. Pace yourselves"
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Down here on the valley floor the sun was breaking through. There was even patches of blue sky. What a difference a few miles and several hundred feet elevation makes.
I wandered through the fields and came to the river. Across the way, the historic Carnation Research Farm sits prettily on the side of the hill.
I saw this sign, posted last Fall. We have a cougar has been in the neighborhood of the farm, about 6 miles north along the ridge, for many years. A cougar can have a range of 50 miles so it comes as no surprise to me that a cat would like this nice patch of old forest. In all my rambles I have never seen a cougar.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
There were two hunters picking up their decoys and blind when I arrived and these two photographers. I could hear bird song in the distance and was thrilled to find a flock of about 30 Meadowlarks chattering in the trees. They are a very uncommon bird on this side of the Cascades. The old corn stubble must appeal to them. They were pretty shy so there was zero chance of getting a picture. I love their song.
Since I have not had a good look at Tundra Swan this year I decided to go back over to Fir Island. In the past it was almost always a good bet to find some birds in the field but there has been some change of attitude towards promoting the birds. Hunters and bird watchers certainly enjoy them, but farmers are having a tough time and more and more ex-urban residents don't want the birders and hunters.
I visited the Hayton Snow Goose reserve and had a fine viewing of this Great Blue Heron.
and this view of Mt Baker. I cannot do justice to the wispy veils of clouds rising from the peaks.
The final stop was at the very end of the road on Fir Island. This is a popular hunting area and there were many Snow Geese present. Hunters were about as were many photographers and bird watchers. I think most of us appreciate the efforts each group puts into environment preservation. I chatted with two women who had their dogs with them. One dog was wearing a camo body vest. I asked them about that and they said the vest protects the underside of the dog from rough plants and stubble. It adds a bit of warmth and you can even but floatation blocks in some pockets to help the dog during its water work.
The salt water, intertidal marsh can hold some good birds in spring but today it was pretty quiet.
This rose hip was about the best splash of color.
We had one great flight of geese, the thing everyone hopes for. This is the only time hunters can shoot. Photographers and birders instantly have their optics going. The sound is amazing, not only the calls but the whoosh and whistle of the wings.