Thursday, October 5, 2017

Signs of Autumn Around My Neighborhood & at the Refuge

This is for an assignment to notice phenological changes.  These are from a walk around the block at home.  


Human and animal activity changes



Bright colors, bright sun




Seeds and their dispersal



Empty seed pods




Autumn can be messy....


Bright undersides


Colors fading




Tuesday, September 19, 2017

On the Trail of Oregon Tracks

Animal tracks are fascinating and, because so many mammals are nocturnal or elusive, tracks show us what animals are active along the trails we walk.

I took Animal Tracking 101 from Steve Engel at Jackson Bottom Wetlands and here are a few photos. Steve's a great teacher and the other folks in the class were fun and enthusiastic.

First, there is an authentic eagle nest [link] at Jackson Bottom Education Center, one that was previously occupied but abandoned when the tree where it was situated for many years fell.  



We studied tracks using plaster casts.

Track 1.
You might might recognize this one.  Count the toes. Answers at the bottom.



Track 2.
These are pretty impressive, a whole tool kit in those claws.  Definitely a working animal.  How many toes?




Track 3

Front feet and hind feet very different.  And, an opposable "thumb."  Adaptable animal, lives in town and country.  







Then, out on the trail where we looked at small tracks from the day/night before.  This track is heading down and to the right.  It's probably a squirrel, with three center toes and one each to the right and left, totaling five toes.  

[Please feel free to interpret as your fancy takes you, perhaps the midnight ride of Paul Revere?]


Lastly, one other reason why I like Oregon:

Tualatin River at Jackson Bottom


Answers
Track 1:  Coyote
Track 2:  Raccoon
Track 3:  Opossum

Reference
Halfpenny, J.C. 1999.  Scats and tracks of the Pacific coast.  Helena, Montana: Falcon.  





Friday, July 14, 2017

Spring and Summer Wildflower ID with the Oregon Flora Project App

2017 is my year of wildflower discovery in Portland and surroundings.  The Oregon Flora Project has just released an app,  A Guide to the Wildflowers, Shrubs, and Vines of Oregon.  So here goes,  a test with some recent sightings, from Powell Butte, 
Cooper Mountain and elsewhere.  


Centaurium erythraea  Common centaury; Powell Butte




DYC* with Cinnabar Moth caterpillars?; Powell Butte





Possibly a Vaccinium, wasn't able to key out with any confidence.
Powell Butte




Hypericum formosum  St. John's wort; Powell Butte





Brodiaea coronaria  Crown brodiaea; 
Cooper Mountain




Lilium columbianum   Columbia Lily; 
Cooper Mountain
  



Rosa pisocarpa   Cluster rose;
Cooper Mountain  





Clarkia is one of my favorite Calif. genera, so delicate and pink.  These are C. amoena,  Farewell to Spring.
Wonderful  to see it in proliferation, all through the lower
meadow at Cooper Mountain.



   


And, a ghostly larkspur from another place altogether.  


*DYC:  damn yellow composite i.e. one of the many yellow daisy-ish flowers I couldn't definitively key out.


Monday, April 17, 2017

The Colors of Spring in the Brazos Valley


For your enjoyment, a few spring wildflowers from April in the Brazos Valley of Texas.  Some are ID'd through great websites: Texas Highways, Texas Wildflower Index and Wildflowers of the U.S.  Some are puzzlements.  All mistakes are my own.  

Little pollinator in winecup, perhaps CallirhoĆ« involucrata



Texas thistle, perhaps Cirsium texanum






Firewheel, perhaps Gaillardia pulchella 




Texas bluebonnets and  primroses in a breezy meadow   




Ah, a member of the legumes, Fabaceae

Possibly Rose Gentian, Sabatia campestris



Texas Yellowstar, possibly Lindheimera texana




And now, three unknowns:  

Add caption











Sunday, March 26, 2017

Take a Walk at the Wildlife Refuge

Take a walk with me at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, where I am training to become a 
volunteer naturalist and trail rover and just beginning to 
learn the common plants here.



Better wear your hat and gloves. 




The refuge provides space for wildlife 
to go about their seasonal activities.  
On my first visit, on the water there were hundreds, perhaps a thousand, pintail ducks, my favorites.



Trillium is an iconic spring wildflower 
in the Willamette Valley 
and they are now in full bloom at at the refuge.




Another sign of spring, the willows 
gearing up for reproduction.  
These are the pistillate or female flowers.




Pollinators are important to plant species reproduction; here, some little insect is busy 
in the red flowering current.



A violet means spring of course; this is 
wood violet, Viola glabella.  



Oaks toothwort, thank you friendly botanist. 
Above and below, two flowers with four petals, 
often meaning a member of the cresses, including wallflowers, mustards and toothwort.  







Who knew that ferns grew on tree trunks?  
Licorice fern, above, likes the deep woods. 

As does, this little cup fungus, below.  









     A cold day in March!
     Clouds rise above the bare trees--
     my heart feels at home.