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Just a meandering soul sharing my backyard. Visit my Flickr page too! www.flickr.com/photos/meanderingwa/

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Trying to Understand the Impossible

I cannot express the sadness I feel at the events of last weekend.

Our friends Professor Cliff Mass and Dan McShane have excellent blogs which discuss issues surrounding this terrible event.

Dan is a Geologist engineer and discusses the Washington Landscape in his blog


Professor Mass teaches us all about weather.  Twenty-four inches of rain this month  in the hills north of the slide area


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Welcome Spring...again

Oh, is it Spring
a tick on the clock
a mark on the calender
the sun crossed the sky

Oh is it Spring
in dark of the morn
Drearily scraping the iced
frosting overnight

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

More Burlaping

Last weekend I spent a morning with the Nisqually Land Trust placing burlap on a riverside property in Yelm.  This long, thin property has a home on it and staff members of the Land Trust have lived here over the years.  In its former life it was a riding stable.  Most of the evidence of that past life has gone.  There is one clearing where the old sand arena has given over to soil and supports a healthy growth of young Cottonwood and cedar.

Today we hiked in about 15 minutes and fanned out, placing burlap over the invasive Reed Canary Grass.  After letting this grassy area die back a bit, native trees and shrubs will be placed.

This area was a bit tricky.  It is near the river and there are a few small water paths cutting through it.  In the thick grass it is a little challenging to see.  Also buried under the grass are many small fallen trees.  Some I assume are wind-tossed but I would not be surprised to find that some local residents did some of the cutting.

Beavers, this property has beavers.  They love hardwood; alder, maple and the like.  They will not eat conifer.  This does not stop them from damaging the trees however.  They will methodically girdle the conifers in order to kill the trees and increase the sunlight, boosting the growth of favorable trees.  The Land Trust has tried to protect as many of the conifers along the property as they could, but resources are limited.

These roots and trunk have been girdled.  Some smaller, recently planted trees at the front of the property have had their trunks painted with a pasty mixture containing sand.  This makes a sandpaper like coating and the Beavers avoid it.  For this old tree, it is too late.

The work was easy and fairly pleasant.  There was a lot of dragging sacks from the stockpile out to the patch being worked on and back and forth again.  Throw them down and piece the edges together like a huge quilt.  Hands and knees crawling about type work.  At one point I simply took a break and lay down and checked out the clouds.  Pretty comfy.

We had a ton of singing woodland birds.  Spring is clearly in the air.  I heard many mating songs and chases.  Brown Creepers wound up and down tree trunks in courtship and territory display.

Highlight for a few of us was a visit from a little charmer.  He was in the grass and hopped onto the burlap we were in the process of placing.  I cannot believe I was able to roll over grab my camera and sneak back for this terrific shot

A teeny , tiny Tree Frog, Hyla regilla.  He is not much longer than 2 1/2 inches nose to bottom.  He posed quite nicely for us.  Chris, the volunteer coordinator observed that the bug life under the burlap gets quite robust and these frogs make a good living.

Three hours passes quickly.  I can feel it in my hands they are simply not as healthy as they use to be.

The walk to and from the work sight was time to enjoy the first hints of Spring.

Early Blue Violet ; Viola adunca

Salmonberry ; Rubus spectabilis bringer of Rufus Hummingbirds.

Impossibly tiny puffballs.  I didn't know what they were, for sure and after getting the pictures ventured to touch one.  They dent slightly and did not puff any spores.

The prize of prizes

We spotted two Trillium ; Trillium oviatum .  I don't remember ever seeing one this early!

The rains continue and the river runs high.  Right now it is hailing, crazy start to Spring

Ah well.  Sit back, stay warm and have another cup of coffee.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Wee Bit - o - Green

Redwood Sorrel , Oxalis oregana

These happy under-story plants are starting back now, with flowers on the way.  In the normal, dark under-story these leaves are held flat, but in bright sunlight and at night they can fold down as you can see here.

They also fold down in heavy rain downpours.

We had that this weekend for sure.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Tired of Winter...Go Looking For Spring

Winter Blues really hit me hard this year.  It has been very uninspiring and I have languished.  I did visit the beach for Winter Beach Clean.  My favorite Thai restaurant was closed for a vacation.  The weather has been just as usual, short dark gray days.  I should not complain as so many folks suffering with these horrible snow storms and frozen beyond humanity temperatures.

I have been concerned about the lack of wet here.  The most vital missing ingredient is snow in the high mountains.  These snows feed our farms and maintain a healthy and safer habitat.  Finally some serious snow (and rain down here) hit in February and our snow pack is pretty much back on track.

The last bit of February brought a few days of dazzling blue skies.  I wanted to run from work and play hooky.  I vowed that the first day of March, Saturday, would find me up at Washington Park.  It is time to start the annual lookout at one of my favorite wildflower places.

The day dawned gray and dreary.  The forecast was for snows moving down the Frazier River valley and catching Whatcom county with some more snow.  I didn't concern myself too much, I was on the hunt for Spring.

Arriving at the park I knew the first spot to check out was the restrooms.  There a very fine Red Flowering Currant  is usually one of the first plants to bloom.  It was just getting started.

With this blooming, you can usually plan for the Rufus Hummingbirds to be arriving any day.

Along the road, all was quiet until I reached one particular rock.  A bit of Trail Magic.  Someone regularly walks this loop and leaves a handful of seeds and corn on rocks and stumps, a welcome treat.  This Douglas Squirrel made sure to tell me that my presence in this area was very unwelcome.  Dougies will also act this way in the Fall if you stop or pass to close to their mushroom larder tree.

The big rock held a handful of treat and sparrows, chickadees, Junco and a Spotted Towhee were all noisily enjoying the feast.  I think Spotted Towhee are one of the handsomest birds in our woods.  So dapper in their cut-away tailcoat and rusty vest.

Further along I dipped down onto my favorite trail.  It is here that Fawn Lily and Calypso Orchid will delight in about a month.  Today the mosses held a few leaves peaking out here and there, a promise of the bounty to come.

The Rattlesnake Plantain orchid appear to be setting up for a very fine year.  They bloom in late summer so for now we see their interesting leaves.  This one was particularly large and well marked.

Out and around the south facing Serpentine bald.  This uncommon soil is unique in this area and supports a fine array of flowers, mosses and lichens.  I see a lot of greenery right now, so the flower bounty should be great.  I found one very early Spring Gold just starting to bloom.

As I stopped to see the Olympic Mountains peeking through the clouds I was greeted by a lot of bird chatter.

Clearly these birds were expecting another handout.  There were many chattering Song Sparrows and one very quiet charmer.  A Fox Sparrow, Passerella iliaca.  These tubby, chunky sparrows are beautifully marked with neat chevrons on their chest and belly.  They are quiet and usually solitary.

It posed handsomely for me and then turned and gave me the stink-eye.  Clearly if I was not going to pay in seed, then shove off.

Around the end of the point and up and over to the road and down.  It was here that I found a pair of Barred Owls nesting a year or two ago.  I listened but did not hear any nest sounds.  I did hear a slight hissing sound, starting light then becoming a little more persistent.  It was falling from the sky.  Not rain, not hail nor grapple.

Little frozen almost flakes

Ah well.  It is a convenient, pretty bit of business.  I needed to stop by the car shop and get a service, then on to work for afternoon duty.  I headed over to Fir Island to grab a photo for my Scavenger Hunt ( topic "many" )  Many Trumpeter Swans

I had time to kill and as I was driving down the freeway I passed an airplane that I have always said I would stop and shoot.

Along this road is a nursery and I was delighted to see that the Mt Baker Orchid Society was having a show.  My friend Ron had his plants there and when I arrived he was busy judging flowers.  I took a look at his display, which was amazing as usual, and went on my way.  Ron reports on his wonderful blog that one of his plants received a Certificate of Culture Merit from the American Orchid Society.  Congrats Ron!!!  If you wish to see some amazing orchids and fabulous photography, pay a visit to Ron's blog.


So a fine day out helped clear out the cobwebs and renewed the spirit and has got me mentally planning on my next visit to the park to look for elusive delights.

Well This Has Been Frustrating

But it looks like it may be resolved

Heading out to take out my frustrations on Scotch Broom

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Well this is it for now

I have been increasingly frustrated with the performance of Blogger and have been unable to figure out an issue with uploading pictures.  For now I will post my pictures over on my flickr page and hope to string together a little narrative to enjoy


I particularly liked my Fox Sparrow captures.

Cheeky fellow