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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Happy First Day of Spring

Since it was bucketing down rain this morning I knew today was an Eastern Washington day.  I headed for the area east of Ellensburg beyond the wind farm.  It is here where I usually find blooming cactus.

This day gave proof as to why the wind farms are here.  The wind was really whipping and getting decent photos of trembling flowers was a challenge.

All the early flowers were here.

Sagebrush Violets

Bluebells snuggles low and protected around most anything.  These were next to an Elk skeleton

Yellow Bells are the flower most people mention when talking about the early Spring flower of the dry side.

Dagger-Pod only grew in the sheltered sunny hillside, well below the rough wind at the top.

Cushon Phlox is just coming on now.

The Hedgehog Cactus are just starting to make buds, so they are a week or two off.

I stopped at the Red Horse Diner for lunch and the sunny window, with no wind, was welcome.

When I come home via I-90 I usually get off at Preston and come via Fall City.  It may take a few extra minutes but it is more peaceful than the Bellevue corridor

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Spring Forward?

Well it is time for the annual Spring forward for Daylight Savings Time.  For most of the country I am sure the arrival of Spring is eagerly awaited.  For the citizens of Puget Sound country we wonder what we did; right or wrong, to deserve the non-winter.

I have happy anticipation of an early and potentially brief wildflower season so I started wandering the trails up at Washington Park a few weeks ago.  Oh how I love this park.  It is so diverse that I can wander for a few hours and each time have a somewhat different experience from the time before.  The warm winter we have had appears to have given the flowers a bit of a jump start.

This is simply bad news.  Our snow pack is not going to happen this year.  The reservoirs are full enough, but I am sure we are going to hear lectures on conservation.  The agriculture areas of Eastern Washington are served largely by the Columbia River and our friends to the north have received enough snow so there should be water for most.  The very high mountains have had more snow than the lower watersheds, so that helps as well.

The Daffodil fields of the Skagit are early and the tulips are not far behind.  The beautiful sunny weekends will no doubt drive people to see the fields long before the Tulip Festival starts.  Great for the vendors in LaConnor.  That is Mt Baker aka Koma Kulshan, peeking over the foothills.

The snowiest place on earth.  This record, long held by Mt Rainier was turned over to Mt Baker several years ago.  I think the rangers at Paradise on Mt Rainier are still recovering.  They held the record for what seems forever.

The park is waking up and the most reliable early bloomer is the Red-flowering Currant, Ribes sanguineum .  This plant along with Salmonberry, brings the Rufous Hummingbird.  I am not yet seeing the Salmonberry bloom and have yet to hear the zing of a Rufous.

I typically walk the park in a counter-clockwise loop.  It is bad of me to ignore the inner part of the peninsula with its deep woods, but I am drawn by the wildflowers that lurk on the stony edges,overlooking  the Salish Sea.

Today I had a darn lucky hit.  I can out of some trees and looked down at the water.  I noted a splash and revved up my camera.  Another splash and I took aim.  A third and I fired...

I was way up there and they way down.  Harbour Porpoise, Phocoena phocoena.  I took down my camera and they were gone, beyond that tree , around the point.

The moss woods along my favorite little trail is filled with promise of Calypso Orchids and Fawn Lily.  I am seeing the leaves but no sign of buds yet.  They are a few weeks off. perhaps.

A scientist interested in moss could spend a few hours counting species here.

Out on the south facing slopes the early flowers are here.  They are not bountiful but you never know what you are going to find.  These slopes are braided with trails that wander along.  Years of people following trails blazed by the likes of these little darlings

The tiny Small-flowered Blue Eyed Mary , Collinsia parviflora is always first to appear.

Another figwort, Yellow Monkey-flower Mimulus guttatus is just getting started.  It almost feels too dry for them.  They seem to like a soggy ground.

I found a few Gold Star, Crocidium multicaule and was happy to catch a busy fly on this one

The cooler woods still have a surprise.  I love mushrooms in all their detail and was very happy with these pictures.

Some day I would love to learn to stalk the savory mushroom.  For now I leave them for the Douglas Squirrels.

Speaking of stalking

He was watching Harbor Seals probably hoping for some leftovers.  The Harbor Seals were probably enjoying smelt, which are running now.  Yum smelt.....  I have not made smelt is such a long time.

I am sure I will be up here almost every week waiting for the orchids and lily to appear.  I need to think about when to tackle the slopes of eastern Washington.  They have much colder nights, but warmer days and in a week or two it may be time to travel back to Snow Mountain ranch near Yakima.  Last time I went I was caught in a snow and hail shower.

Might have to wait for real Spring for that trip.