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.