Wednesday, May 2, 2007

BioBlitz 2007--Conclusions and The End

(Above) A shot of the oldest living thing on Indian Hill, Cougar Tree. Read more here:

(above)My perch on the south side of Indian Hill. It's a great place to watch birds, both scuffling on the ground and flittering through the treetops. It's got a nice steep drop off to dangle the feet over. Cougar Tree is directly to the left.

(above) The trail home.

(I counted species found, not individuals—most all had many representatives!!)Trees—6
Flowers—58, *1
Fungus—13, *9
Birds—19, *15
Insects—14, *12
Mammals-- 6, *8

Grand Total-- 180, *55 =235 species altogether(so far)
*=resident species observed at other times of the year, just not during the Blitz week.
This includes two endagered species(*Spotted Owl and *Marbeled Murrelet).

April 21, 2007
Lo 40.5’, Hi 47.2’, barometer—down, humidity(3pm): 82%
Low clouds skimming treetops, following slopes down into valleys. Steady rain all day sundown, lifting of clouds, clear at nightfall, stars!! Collected moss and lichen samples, branches with lichen on Indian Hill.

April 22, 2007
Lo 43’. Hi 57’, barometer—up, humidity (4 pm): 67%
High piled sharp edged cumulus, 30% blue sky towards east, late afternoon showers. Wind SW.
Late morning. Birds seen: Rufous Hummingbird, American Robin, Steller’s Jay, White Crowned Sparrow, Wild Turkey, Raven, Red-Headed Sapsucker, Pacific Slope Flycatcher, Chestnut Backed Chickadee, Mallard Duck, Varied Thrush, heard calls of Redwing Blackbird.
Found fresh deer, raccoon and bobcat tracks on a deer trail into tree farm(pix). Found a raccoon skull and a jawbone of a squirrel?(Pix)
Found a new-to-me flower, a catchfly/campion? Under mature spreading oaks in cow pasture. Camas blossoms rising up, blooming soon. Four turkeys. A woolly-bear caterpillar, black middle band with long white hairs on sides, in the grass. Found lots of a smoky brown coprinus mushroom all along west edge cow pasture(shaded and wet). Watched a shower pass in the dry shelter of a big fir(south side of Indian Hill), chesnut-backed chickadees kept popping by to get a look at me.
After supper. Heard a Pileated Woodpecker laughing. Helped a Rough-Skinned Newt completely cross the road. Just enjoyed the small beings and wild gestures—the wish of raven wing fingers through spring air, the bright rust of a robin’s breast against the twilight blue sky, remembering the watchful companionship of the nesting mallard pair on the pond.

April 23, 2007
Lo 41.6’, Hi 61’, barometer—up
Deep blue sky, small round fuzzy edged clouds fill 50%, gradual overcast into evening. Enough wind to creak trees, SW.
Early afternoon. Followed three bachelor turkeys in pasture(young males hang out together in the Spring while hens and the Big Guys are doing their thing). Found 6 Striped Coralroot under a mature spreading oak. Two deer in the tender new grass.
After supper. Heard calls of Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, various sparrow, junco, towhee, Steller jay, redtail hawk, robin, and other birds I recognize their calls, but don’t know which faces go with which songs.

April 24, 2007
Lo--, Hi—(not working), barometer—up
High bright overcast, then darkening grey bottoms of clouds. Occasional gusts from the N, sounds seem amplified
Noon. Lots of high flying birds today. Turkey Vulture soaring. Canada geese flying NW, calling to each other.
Late afternoon. wind high in the treetops, then it suddenly dies to silence, hush. I can hear birds at least ¼ mile away through the trees(I’m hearing red-wing blackbirds, and I know their pond is about ¼ mile away). Complete silence, punctuated by few bird songs. Strengthening sun, every leaf holds one raindrop.
After supper. Ravens flying west, like they always do in the evening. They pause in the treetops, speaking to each other. It’s easy to hear how Raven seems to have speech, their sounds seem formed by a tongue, rather than just a squawk or song, like other birds. High wind in the treetops, listen long enough, by hours or days, and you can hear what the wind is bringing tomorrow—rain, cold, warm, sun. Listen long enough and even silence will speak what you need to know.

April 25, 2007
Lo 42.5’, Hi 59’, barometer—up, wind swings from N to SW and back.
Overcast, a cold wind picks up in the late afternoon. The trees creak and clack in the indecisive wind. White Crowned Sparrows follow me, singing in the cascara, or maple, or Saskatoon along the road. Each individual sings a slight variation on a basic song. Maple chains swing heavy and golden in the wind, their newly unfolded leaves flitter like paper.


I discovered two new plants, one I didn’t know the name of—Grove Lover (Nemophilia parviflora, waterleaf family), and one completely new flower I hadn’t seen yet and can’t find at all in my field guides.

I learned that it is a good thing to have multiple field guides to help identify cousins. Photos or illustrations in guides may be made of plants 500 miles away, or 3,000 feet up in elevation, and examples will “never” be exactly like what I have in my hand. I learned more about how shade or sunlight changes the form of a leaf, and how better to understand all that stuff the book says about sepals and hairs and axils, and then use it to better my ID skills.

I learned it’s easier to see birds when I have a prior understanding of where a bird likes to hang out—chickadees like firs, flycatchers like thickets, woodpeckers peck in the canopy.

I decided my Indian Hill has come a long way in transitioning from a grassy savannah hill to a conifer forest in the past 80 years. Most of the species found prefer a moist, open conifer stand of mature trees. I am amazed to find Fairy Slippers, they require a very particular environment and relationship with firs and fungus. The firs have topped the oaks, which means the oaks will die soon in the fir shade.

I understand better how it takes a long time to understand a place, and discover its secrets. My tally is a result of 6 years of watching this place, and I know there is even more to find.


Acorn, John and Ian Sheldon, Bugs of Washington and Oregon. Lone Pine Publishing, 2001.

Alden, Peter and Dennis Paulson, National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest. Chanticleer Press. Inc, 1998.

Alt, David, Roadside Geology of Oregon. Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1978.

Baron, Nancy and John Acorn, Birds of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Lone Pine Publishing, 1997.

Gunther, Erna, Ethnobotany of Western Washington. University of Washington Press, 1945.

Laessoe, Thomas, Mushrooms. Dorling Kindersley, 1998.

Lincoff, Gary,ed, Guide to Mushrooms. Simon and Schuster, 1981.

Matthews, Daniel, Cascade-Olympic Natural History. Publisher’s Press, 1999.

Moore, Michael, Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West. Museum of New Mexico Press, 1979.

Pojar, Jim and Andy MacKinnon, Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast; Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska. BC Ministry of Forests and Lone Pine Publishing, Vancouver, 1994.

Searfoss, Glenn, Skulls and Bones. Stackpole Books, 1995.

Field Guide to Fungi(Pacific Northwest)

Field to Terrestrial Mollusks(WA and OR)

Northwest Oregon State Forests Management Plan (2001)

Oregon Flora Project,

Rare, Threatened and Endangered Species of Oregon,

Two eyes, two ears, two hands, two feet, one heart.


Wanderin' Weeta said...

Oh! What a beautiful tree!

And the land does it justice.

Paul said...

That stone-lined footpath is very inviting. I think I'll do something like that in my woods. Goodness knows we have lots of rocks in the Ozarks.


Trailhead said...

Fairy slippers!!!!!

The camas were going strong here in the valley as of last week. I need to get out to Camassia Nature Preserve this weekend.

cyndy said...

Great field notes! I've really enjoyed reading the bio blitzing! And I esp. enjoyed your ending- to check out the links!

Bpaul said...

Gah, end of the whole blog?

You doing any others like this, I totally dig it and hope for more!

wyldthang said...

Weeta--yes, I'm glad that old tree can just be as it's been...

paul--I followed a deer path, pryed the rocks out and set them to the side and smoothed the dirt. The cats and the chickens also like puttering along the path.

trailhead--our camas is just sending up buds;0)

cyndy--glad you liked it!!

bpaul--no, not the whole end ;0) I still have all sorts of things to count--the boulder and the oak branch I planned to do, but didn't get to once I found out how much (fun) work this was, and I have a vernal pool, and there's lots more stuff. Keep watching!

Bpaul said...

Whew! hehe

burning silo said...

You did a marvelous job of bioblitzing a corner of your world. Great wrap-up. I liked your description of what you learned along the way.

wyldthang said...

Hey Bev, thanks!! ;0)