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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mima Mounds

Well I did not get over to the dry side to cactus test my boots.  The horrible change in the weather brought two feet of snow to the passes and with that deadly avalanches which claimed two lives.

Here in the low lands weather was just as unsettled with squalls of rain and hail, thunder and lightning.

Today, after an early morning dose of "Mad Men" I chanced the weather for a run south to the Mima Mounds Nature Protection Area.  The weather held off just enough to allow a quick trip without too much drama.

For years people have floated theory on how the mounds were produced; burial grounds, gophers, earthquakes glaciation. 

The out wash of glacial melting is now felt to be the leading cause and mounded prairie is found in many regions of North America.

The Mima Mounds are well known for their flowers and butterflies as well as rare native grasses.  I am here too early for the grand flower show, but there was enough to enjoy on this quick trip. 

Broad-leaf shooting stars paved the way and are the early flowers here.


I found some Early Blue Violet that seem to be taking the heavy rains a bit hard.  The are all drooping and not presenting their best face upward.

I was surprised to find wild Woods Strawberry in bloom.  The grasses here are so thick it was a lucky find.

There was a little bit of bird action.  I could hear a Meadowlark over the way singling sadly.  Lincoln Sparrow were singing their high pitched buzzy song.  From the woods I could hear a Ruffed Grouse giving its deep "woomp wooomp woomp" call.  I even heard it drum once.

The prize of the day was a young Harrier, I think a female, sitting on a stump watching for prey.  She was kind enough to sit still for a zoom in.  I think she knew I would not venture off the path to get closer.

In the woods, Bleeding Heart was everywhere.

Trillium was up and blooming.  There were even some flowers already changing to the pink and purple of age.

I saw two butterflies this day.  Still early with the raw weather.  This Mustard White was content to sit in a patch of sun while I captured some photos.

Yet again, a place to visit a week or so from now.  I can see a lot of Camas here and there were buds just starting to show through the grass.

Driving home I hit a hail downpour and the layer on my window was quite something.  On the freeway we would slow down as we drove through one hail downpour after another.  They were not very wide, just local and spotty.  While we were having this weather, to the north, on the other side of the Convergence Zone, the freeway was at a standstill as a hail storm battered Everett.

I made the lucky choice to head south today.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Walking in the Rain

A rainy Spring weekend.  In high contrast with last weekends sunny and 70, it is low clouds and barely 50.  In the mountains, snow is once again falling so I must stick to the wet side.

Yesterday was Biosurvey at Ohop.  My love for this place cannot even be diminished by the rain.

Newly arrived swallows; Violet-green, Tree, Barn and Rough-wing were found swooping all over the fields.  The Rough-wing traced its way up and down the creek, while the others took higher to the sky.

The creek is flowing deep.  During salmon runs it is fairly shallow.  If you look closely at the creek you will see a line across.  This is a device that counts salmon that have microchips.

We rambled the fields for a soggy 2 1/2 hours looking for signs, sounds and sights of living things.  It was slow going.  I am happy to say my waterproof pants boots and coat really do the trick.  Even they, however, could not keep my electronic data recording device from seizing up.

Another two months and this field will be alive with greenery and, no doubt, bugs galore.  The birds eventually will find great feeding in the hundreds of young trees.

The trees and shrubs planted over the last few years are thriving.

Today with rain coming down in buckets I revisited Washington Park to see my flowers.  The rain was really coming down as I neared Anacortes, but by the time I parked it was a more sedate rain.  I figure as I was going to be in the woods most of the way, it really didn't matter that much.  There were only a few souls out.  All were well protected from the rain by a wide variety of foul-weather gear.

And I got my prize.

White Fawn Lily are abundant in the mossy glades. 

The Calypso Orchids are going strong. 


I even found a large number of Coralroot Orchid starting to spike.  Right now they look like red asparagus breaking through the forest floor litter.  I found them all along my route and I don't remember seeing this many in the past.

On the south slope the Serpintine soil supports a wide array of unusual flowers.  Yellow Monkey Flower decorate the rock faces

Spring Gold, Sea Blush, Blue-eyed Mary and buttercup carpet the open slopes.

The rare Puget Sound Juniper thrives on these slopes.

A Banana Slug slips easily along the glacier gouged Serpentine rocks.

That is the front of my size 11 Ahnu boot so you can appreciate how big this fat fellow is.

I officially love my boots.  I got a gel insert and now they fit perfectly!  They are comfy and waterproof too!

Perhaps next weekend we will see how the comfy boots face the threat of cactus