Monday, April 30, 2007

BioBlitz 2007--All Creatures Great and Small

I decided I was too impatient to wait a half hour for each of my pictures to load for my BioBlitz I give a picture of moi BioBlitzer as a young child, doing her first BioBlitz. I still love dandelions, especially big fat juicy happy ones covering a lawn(mine).

I'll share the photos another time. (I have tracks, skulls, drawings, holes and middens!)

Again, if it has an asterisk *, it means I have observed these critters at other times of the year. I know they are resident, and wanted to include them. On the other hand, if there is no *, it means I saw it, or its fresh tracks.

Varied Thrush(Ixoreus naevius)
American Robin(Turdus migratorius)
Mountain Quail (Oreortyx pictus)
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) I've seen these roosting in the oaks when they are eating on something in the cow pasture. It is a wonder how they fly with their (up to) 6' wingspan through the gnarly oak branches.
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
Rufous Hummingbird(Selasphorus rufus)
Red Breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus rubber)
Northern Flicker(Colaptes auratus)
Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Raven(Corvus corax)
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)These like to perch of the very tops of the firs, and so would I, if I could.
White Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) In the summertime, these guys sing all through the night.
Golden Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)
Dark Eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
Spotted Towhee(Pipilo maculatus)
Wild Turkey These (yummy when smoked) birds perch in the low hung large branches of the maples at night.
Pacific Slope Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis)
Hairy Woodpecker(Picoides sitkensis)

Year-round Birds:
*Black-Capped Chickadee (Parus atricapillus)
*Red-Breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)
*Brown Creeper (Certhia Americana)
*Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)
*Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis) occasional, nested on the hill 2001, 2002
*Ruby Crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)
*Belted Kingfisher
*Red Tailed Hawk

Summer Birds:
*Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)--proof that heaven exists
*Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata)
*Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)
*Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus)
*American Goldfinch (Cardeulis tristis)
*Black Headed Grosbeak(pheucticus melanocephalus)
*Evening Grosbeak(Coccothraustes vespertinus)

Freak One-Time Sighting:
*Marbeled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) at least I was told it had to be "freak", they do come this far inland, but it "had to be" lost.

Oregon Megophix(Megophix hemphilli) small pale snail ???
Small ochre snail
Puget Oregonian (Cryptomastix devia) rusty snail ???
(I found a great online field guide to snails/slugs, so I’ll have fun gathering shells and figuring out what they are. There are a variety of rusty snails, so I’ll start collecting snail shells).

(I'm not very good with bugs, I don't have a big bug field guide)
Clown Millipede(Harpaphe haydeniana)
Black Millepede
Carrion Beetle
Acorn Weevil
Box Elder Bug
Black Ground Beetle
Goldenrod Crab Spider (Misumena vatia)
Woolly Bear Caterpillars(in various combinations of striping)
House Fly
Crane Fly
Bumble Bee
Yellow Jacket
Tiny Red Spider-Mite that lives in fir bark

Bugs Seen Other Times
*Rain Beetle(Pleocoma spp.)
*Preying Mantis
*California Prionus (Prionus californicus)
*Metallic golden flies on cow poop
*A large variety of wasps and bees
*Polyphemous Moth (Antheraea plyphemous)
*Lorquin's Admiral Butterfly (Liminitis lorquini)
*Red Admiral Butterfly(Vanessa atalanta--what a pretty name!!)
*Mourning Cloak Butterfly (Nymphalis antiopa)
*Spring Azure Butterfly (Celastrina ladon)
*Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus)
*Oregon "Old World" Swallowtail (Papilio machaon oregonius)

Blacktailed Deer(Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) tracks, beds--the deer sleep on the east side of the hill in winter(protected from the wind and rain) and on the west side of the hill in summer(nice cool breezes), so Indian Hill is a kind of deer hotel. They also like to hang out in the oaks on the west side during the day.
Western Gray Squirrel (Sciurus griseus) S, O, df cone middens, and they leave nibbled boletes atop mossy rocks
Douglas Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii)C, cone middens
Townsend’s Chipmunk(Tamias townsendii) C, cone middens
Trowbridge Shrew(Sorex trowbridgii) mature C, dead in path
Vagrant Shrew (Sorex vagrans) dead in path

*Short-tailed Weasel(Mustela erminea) road kill
*Pacific Jumping Mouse (Zapus trinotatus) W, C(cats drag in)
*Coyote(tracks, scat, calls)
*Raccoon (tracks)
*Mountain Lion(sighting, tracks, carcass)
*Striped Skunk(Mephitis mephitis)tracks, road kill
*Bobcat(Lynx rufus)sightings, tracks, scat
*Deer Mouse(Peromyscus maniculatus)

There are a variety that live very nearby--there is a vernal pool full of frog life, and the snakes love the grass, and the lizards love the rock wall. But I've never happened across a snake on the hill(too moist and coniferous?), or a frog--even a tree frog(too dry and oaky?).

Lastly, I will do a wrap-up post, with a final tally of species, thoughts, and a bibliography. Just trying to be scholarly.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

BioBlitz 2007--Lichens, Mosses and Ferns

I really enjoy the moss-liverwort-lichen category. The Pacific North-WET is heaven for these critters, and I'm always amazed at the variations, the colors, the forms, and the biology. Mosses can be difficult to ID(I need to take a class), so my list is not complete or accurate. Lichens are a little easier, but I know I didn't get them all. There are a whole 'nother set of species that grow in treetops as well, so I always check out a freshfallen tree for mosses and lichens.

More moss-lichen-fungus pix:

My Cedar shake roof has collected quite a varied assortment of lichens as well in its 30 years. Another day, another BioBlitz project!

(above)A small portion of the boulder I was going to inventory(but that will have to wait for another day--I promise to do it later, it is a wonder!!).The large leafy lichen is Lungwort. It turns bright green in the rain. Click on the photo to get a sense of the diversity of mosses and lichens--and other parts of the rock have just as many DIFFERENT kinds, all in their preferred climate(sunny, shady, under dry overhanging stuff, in the dark).

I took these pictures of various new-fallen sticks to show how many different kinds of lichens line the branches here.
(above, left to right) Ragbag, Yellow Reindeer Lichen, Beaded Bone

(above, left to right) moss "A", Cetraria platyphylla(purple leafy), Frog Pelt, moss "B"

(above, let to right)Methuselah's Beard, Forking Bone with fruiting body, Platismatia glauca(pale green leafy)

(above, left to right) Ragbag, Sea Tar, Bark Barnacle, Beaded Bone(with fruiting bodies "budding")

(above, left to right) Cladonia sp., moss "B", Methuselah's Beard, Antlered Perfume, Ragbag
Lady Fern(Athryium filix-femina)C, W, E, L to montane
Sword Fern(Polystichum munitum) C, W, L, M
Licorice Fern(polypodium glycrrhiza)C, W, L
Bracken Fern(Pteriduium aquilinum) C, W, E, O, L to sub-alpine

Red Bryum (Bryum miniatum)rock
Plume Moss(Dendroalsia abietina)maple, oak
Tall Clustered Thread Moss (Byrum pseudtriquetrum)
Coastal Leafy Moss(Plagiomnium insigne)
Ribbed Bog Moss (Aulacomnium palustre)
Douglas’Neckera (Neckera douglasii)
Rough Moss(Clapodium crispitolium)
Cat-tail Moss(Isothecium myosuroides)
Curly Thatch Moss(Dicanoweisia cirrata)
Wet Rock Moss (Dichodontium pellucidum)

Common Scissor-leaf Liverwort(Herbertus aduncus)
Tree Ruffle Liverwort (Porella navicularis)

Dust Lichens(Lepraria sp.) various kinds
Cladonia Scales(Cladonia sp) dead oak
Bark Barnacle(Thelotrema lepadinum) C,W
Lettuce Lung (Lobaria oregana) C, W, old growth
Lungwort (Lobaria pulmonaria) C, W
Lobaria linita C, W
Frog Pelt (Peltigera neopolydactyla) C, R
Questionable Rock-Frog(Xanthoparmelia cumberlandia) R
Rag Bag (Plantismatia glauca) everywhere
Forking Bone(Hypogymna inactiva) C, O
Beaded Bone (Hypogymnia enteromorpha) C, O
Antlered Perfume (Evernia prunastri) C, W
Devil’s Matchstick (Pilophorus acicularis) R, C, W
Lipstick Cladonia (Cladonia macilenta) C
False Pixie Cup (Cladonia chlorophaea) soil, tree bases
Dragon Cladonia (Cladonia squamosa) ground, decaying wood
Cladonia carneola
Coastal Reindeer (Cladina portentosa) ground
Cladina mitis
Cladina uncialis, dry, well lit O, C
Methuselah’s Beard (Usnea longissima) C, W
Common Christmas Tree (Spaerophorus globosus)
Common Witch’s Hair (Alectoria sarmentosa) C
Parmelia sulcata
Parmeliopsis ambigua
Hypogymnia metaphysodes, C
Pseudicyphellaria anomala
Lecidella euphoria
Lecanora rupicola
Now I'm off to work on Critters!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

BioBltz 2007--Fungus Among Us

Eye candy comes first...
Little Japanese Umbrella

I don't know what this one is. I found them lining a very old rotted fir stump, between the bark and what was left of the wood. I jammed the camera down into it, and clicked away. I really like this pic, makes me think of octopus.

Grown-up Panther Amanita(the psycho-delic-probable-death-inducing-while-mutant-mosquitoes-suck-your-blood-mushroom, so innocent-looking...)

Newborn Panther Amanita

Oak Blossom (my made-up name)

(Spock's) Bladder Cup

Witch’s Butter (Tremella mesenterica) dead fir
Mazegill (Daedaea quercina) oak stumps
Golden Gumdrop (my name) (Dacrymyces deliquescens) dead fir twigs
Bladder Cup (Peziza vesiculosa) soil
Little Japanese Umbrella (Coprinus plicatilis) soil
Oak-meal Paste(my name) (Phellinus punctatus) dead oak
Clustered Oak Bonnet (Mycena inclinata)dead oak
Panther Amanita (Amanita pantherina) soil, with firs
Ink Cap (Coprinus sp) soil
Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) dead fir, oak
Oak Blossom Fungus(my name)(Stereum hirsutum) dead oak
Unknown Little Orange Cap--photo above, on rotten fir
Little Brown Mushrooms
Tiny Grey Mushrooms

Mushrooms I’ve found other times:
*Russula, soil, with firs
*Bolete, soil
*Suillus, soil
*Blue-Green Slime Head (Stropharia cyanea), dead oak
*Yellow Morel (Morchella esculenta) soil
*Lemon Disc (Bisporella Citrina) dead oak
*Splash Cup (Crucibulum leave/Cyanthus olla), soil, cedar post
*The Goblet (Pseudoclitocybe cyanthiformis), live oak
*Giant Club (Clavariadelphus pistilaris), soil
*Little Pink Mushrooms

NOTE--Blogspot is being superslow the past few days uploading pix(it could be my computer), so it's taking me a few days to get my BioBlitz posts done with the pix. I have two more planned--Ferns, Moss, Lichens, Liverworts and Creepy Crawly/Walky/Flyers, just so ya know!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bioblitz 2007--Indian Hill Flora

Description of Indian Hill

Imagine a medicine wheel (a circle with four spokes, oriented NSEW). The north half contains mostly fir and a few maple, with sword fern and snowberry. The south half contains mostly oak, with about 20% large firs, a handful of young firs, and about 20% mature maple. Herbaceous plants cover most of the circle, with wet-loving plants in the NE quarter. The SE quarter has a steep rocky bluff, with (cool!) moss and lichen covered rock faces. Shrubs grow in the more shady and wind-protected areas. Thickets line the E edge of the circle.
I would guess none of the firs are more than 75 years old. When we logged a little, we counted rings, and none were over 75 years—even a fir with a 4 foot diameter(it had some rings that were 1”!). There were also scrawny firs the same age with a 6” diameter. I counted rings on two oaks we cut last summer, each about 24” in diameter, one was about 145 years old, and one was 168 years old). The biggest oak is about 3.5’ in diameter.
Rainfall averages per year: Portland, OR 37”, Coast Range 80”, Indian Hill(2004) 77”. Prevailing wind SSW. It averages about 36” of cumulative snow per year.
Eye candy comes first...
Chocolate Lily

Sessile Trillium

Slender Toothwort

Star Flowered Solomon's Seal

Striped Coralroot

Oregon Iris (a very pale version)

Broad Leaved Shooting Star

S=dry savannah
C=conifer moist forest
W=wet forest (streambanks, springs, deciduous)
L=low elevation
M=middle elevation
E=edge(between forest and field)
O=open forest(with mostly mature trees)
F=currently flowering 4/07
*=resident but not up or seen or arrived yet
Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)S, C, L to montane
Grand Fir (Abies grandis)dry C
Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata)C, W, L, M, shady
Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum)S, W, L, M
Garry Oak (Quercus garryana)S, L, R
Oregon Ash (Fraxinus latifolia)W, L

Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)C, S, L, M, O
Oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor)C, S, L, M, O
Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnofolia)C, S, L, M, O, F
Indian Plum (Oemleria cerasiformis)C, S, L, O
Pacific Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus)C, L, M, O
Nootka Rose(Rosa nutkana)C, S, W, L, M, O
Thimbleberry(Rubus parviflorus) C, W, L to subalpine, O
Black Raspberry(Rubus leucodermis) C, L, M, O
Trailing Blackberry (Rubus ursinus)C, S, L, M, O
Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus discolor)
Cascara (Rhammus purshiana) C, W, L, M, E, shady
Beaked Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta) C, S, L, M, O, shady
Poison Oak (Toxicohdendron diversilobum)S, L, R
Pacific Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus) W, O, L, M
Ocean Spray (Holodiscus discolor) W, O, E, L, M

Star-Flowered False Solomon’s Seal (Smilacina stellata) C, W, L to timberline, shady, F
Hooker’s Fairybells (Disporum hookeri) C, W, L
White Fawn Lily (Erythronium oregonum) S, L, O, R, F
Sessile Trillium (Trillium chloropetalum)C, W, O, F
Chocolate Lily (Fritillaria affinis) S, C-E, M, F

Oregon Iris (Iris tenax) S, L, M, O, F

Fairy Slipper (Calypso bulbosa)C, L, M, shady, F
Striped Coralroot (Corallorhiza striata)C, W, L, M, shady, F

Siberian Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia sibirica) C, W, L, M, shady, F
Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) S, L, M, F

Big-Leaved Sandwort(Moehringa macrophylla)C, S, L, M, R, F

Slender Toothwort (Cardamine pulcherrima) C, W, L, F

Fringecup (Tellima grandiflora) C, W, L, M, E, F
Foamflower (Tiarella trifoliata) C, W, L to subalpine, shady, E

Red Columbine (Aquilega Formosa) C, W, L to subalpine, R, E, shady

Goat’s Beard (Aruncus diocus) C, W, L, M, E
Woodland Strawberry (Fragaria vesca) C, L to subalpine, E, O, F
Large Leaved Avens (Geum macroplyllum) C, S, L, M, O
Silverweed (Potentilla pacifica) W, L, M

Tufted Vetch(Vicia cracca) C, S, L, M, E

Enchanter’s Nightshade (Circaea alpina) C, W, L, M

Cow-Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum)W, L to subalpine, E
Pacific Sanicle (Saniclua crassicaulis)C, S, L, E
Mountain Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza chilensis)C, W, L, M, E
Parsley-Leaved Lovage (Ligustichum apiifolium) S, C, L

Pacific Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum tenuipes)C, L, M

Creeping Charlie (Glecoma hederacea) W, C, O, E, L
Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris) C, O, L, M

Nipplewort (Lapsana communis) C, S, L, M, E
Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) S, L
Canada Thistle Cirsium arvense) O, fields
Burdock(Arctium minus)O, fields
Dandelion (taraxacum officinale) O, fields

Oak Mistletoe(Phoradendron flavescens) S, L
Robert Geranium (Geranium robertianum) C, S, L, O
Dovefoot Geranium (Geranium molle) S, L, F
Broad Leaved Starflower (Trientalis latifolia) C, L, M, O
Manroot (Marah oreganus) W, L, O, F
Cleavers (Galium aparine) W, L, M, E, O
Duckfoot/Inside-out Flower (Vancouveria hexandra) W, C, shady, L, M
Broad-Leaved Shooting Star (Dodecatheon hendersonii) S, O, F
Vari-Leaved Collomia (Collomia heterophylla)

*Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora) C(mature), L(blooms in July, 3 patches)
Green Sedge (Carex viridula)
Creeping Spike-Rush (Eleocharis palustris)
Pacific Brome (Bromus pacificus)
Lemon Balm
Sweet Woodruff
Queen Anne's Lace
Next up: Ferns, Mosses, Liverworts and Fungus
And after that: fauna(mammals, bugs, birds)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Bioblitz 2007--Indian Hill

The hill behind my house is a rough circular mound of basalt boulders and rubble about 400 feet in diameter. It lies atop one of the N-S running ridges of Oregon’s Coast Range. The elevation at the top is about 990’ and the elevation at the lowest base is about 850’. In the Eocene(50-60 million years ago) this land was underwater. Lava flowed occasionally, bubbling out and hardening into seafloor basalt “pillows”. The rock-pillows range from 6’D boulders at the base of the hill, to grapefruit and smaller cobbles on the top of the hill, and no other hill in the area has as many rocks. By the Miocene(20 million years ago), this land had been lifted up, both by shifting faults and subduction zone scraping action, and formed into Oregon’s Coast Range. (Photo of mossy "pillows" and my teeny house).
My hill lies in a transition zone between oak savannah of the western foothills of the Willamette Valley and conifer forest of the interior Coast Range. From about 3-4,000 years ago to roughly the end of the nineteenth century, the local native Americans, the Kalapooya, burned the Willamette Valley the and Coast Range foothills each year to encourage grasses for game, to help the large acorn-bearing oaks grow wide without competition, and to provide habitat for other food plants(camas, tarweed). To the east of the hill lies a 100+ acre cow pasture that retains much of the savannah characteristics, and to the west conifer forests stretch to the sea. (Here is a photo of the cow pasture, showing the open field with spreading oaks, as well as scattered young firs. The pasture is grazed for about 2 months out of the year.)
Here is an old oak stump that bears the marks of those old grass fires--
Since the fires stopped, the conifer forest has been creeping back through the oaks. Eventually the oaks will die, shaded by the taller firs. Here is a photo(in the bottom third portion) that shows what the crown of the hill looks like with oaks(grey, no leaves yet), maples(new green) and firs. The upper two thirds of the photo shows the transition to second-growth conifers, on into the west.

Surprisingly, for all its backwoods reputation today, this area(and the valley shown in the photo above) was one of the first homesteaded in the Willamette Valley. The first post office in Oregon was in this valley(a settler decided he wanted to be the first post office in Oregon, and simply set up shop). A boundary tree(and its replacement since the first one fell), used in marking the land for homesteading claims, marks the NE corner of our land. We call our hill “Indian Hill” because local rumor says it is so rocky because the Indians buried their folks up there, and covered them with rocks. It certainly would make a great place for a grave, in my opinion!! But it sure would be hard digging with all that rock! And we haven’t found any bones…All those rocks and dry southern exposures used to be home to rattlesnakes, one of the few places rattlers could survive in the Willamette Valley. They’re gone now(?!), the settlers shot them and let their pigs loose on the hills to fatten up on snake and acorn.
Next up, a description of the Hill's layout, and the list of trees, shrubs, and plants found on Indian Hill.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

BioBlitz 2007--Here's My Blitzee!

I'd like to introduce my Blitzee for this year's BioBlitz. Behind my house lies a heap of rubble, about 3-4 acres in area, the top is just shy of 1000 feet(our house is at 960', and the foot is at about 900'). It is unique in that it is a huge pile of rock, and it is also about 80years into transitioning from oak savannah "back"(or would it be forward?) into the conifer forest of pre human effects. It is a vertical transition(being at the upper elevation boundary of oak habitat), as well as a horizontal one(being at the western edge of the Willamette Valley and boundaries of old native american fire management). There is a push-pull going on between the oaks and the firs(cue Rush's The Trees song, although it's no that big of a fight), and a mix of their respective companion species.

My observations for the BioBlitz have been gathered from the seven years I've been here, looking, listening, watching, walking this place in all weather and seasons. I'll share what I've learned about the geological history(its giant rock pile aspect is unique among the surrounding hills), the human history, and the species who call this hill home.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Fern Magic

An exuberant patch of Sword Ferns--Polystichum (many rows) munitum(armed)--wonderfully Medusa-ish in all that un-whirling.
I've wondered where the idea for a treble clef design came from, and I have to say it's from a fern. Has to be.
Here is the frond of a Lady Fern--Athyrium (no sheild) filix-femina(fern woman) with an interesting contrast to latin name above. Ferns never fail to amaze me in how they pack their frond into a such a tight little package--the entire form is there, ready to expand as it unrolls. First the main stem, then each blade-leaf uncurls. Lady Ferns prefer wet ground, and since this patch is growing on a dry hillside, I think there must be a spring under it's feet.
How did they learn to do this??? Ferns are a very old primeval plant. I don't know anything about how ferns evolved, but its modern frond launching system is pretty cool!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Yesterday's Walk

The BigLeaf Maple is dangling its flowers. They're edible, I tried one--sweet, then grassy, nice texture and crunch in the mouth. The leaves are emerging and unfolding like butterflies. I was so happy I could get the leafy green glow with the blue sky.
A rare beauty, the Chocolate Lily(no I didn't taste this one). Fritillaria (checkered) affinis (related) or anceolata. Other names include Checker Lily, Mission Bells. Their bulbs have rice shaped bulblets, which native americans would steam or boil. The deer seem to like nipping off the tips, along with the bracken fern fiddleheads.
Here's a relative of the grocery store cyclamen--Shooting Star, Dodecatheon(twelve gods) pulchellum(beautiful). It likes the dry open woods of the oak savannah, as does the Chocolate Lily. It does transplant well. I love their colors--magenta, burgundy and pale yellow.
I can't help it, I have to say this plant is absolutely beautiful backlit by the setting sun...
It's poison oak!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

NPSO Walk in Airport Park, McMinnville

Today I went on a "Lichen and Lilies" walk with the local Cheahmill chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon in Airport Park(next to the armory by the Mac airport). We learned about the basic forms of lichens, what makes them different from moss, and were introduced to a few common lichen species. A nice bundle of lilies were dicovered as well. The weather was purely Oregon Spring--fine mist, pale shadows, tree drip and a nice downpour.

The park has a nice collection of mossy(and crustose lichen-y) water fountains scattered along the 2-mile loop trail.
Many of the Western Trilliums were already turning an elderly pink.
The trail crosses a creek lined with lacy Lady Ferns.
One of a nice patch of Pink Fawn Lilies.
And last, a cryptic message carved in a beautiful old four-boled Madrone, "I DO". Very Thoreauvian, I thought--"I do hug trees, I do kneel in the mud, I do welcome rain, I do breathe green".

Friday, April 6, 2007

Aye, Calypso I Sing to Your Spirit

Another treasure has sprung from the forest, Fairy Slippers (Calypso bulbosa). This little beauty is actually a parasite--it depends on mycchorizal (sorry, I'll have to fix the spelling later)fungus filaments connecting to green plants to obtain it's nutrients(Fairy Slippers have no chlorophyll). It is very particular in where it needs to grow, and very rare. If you pick it it will die, the roots are very fragile. Here is the face of one that grows on my NW corner.
And here are a few down by the bus stop, lit by late afternoon. The Haida Indians used to eat their corms, describing them as "greasy"(we would translate that as "buttery"). Haida girls would eat the corms to enhance their decolletage.
Every field guide describes them as VERY RARE DO NOT PICK EVER. And here....
is the miracle. A space about 20' x 30' is covered with them!
Backing up more...I turned the color booster way up so you can see how many there are by their magenta glow. I get so excited when I see this every spring. It gives me a tremendous shot of hope for this world. (click on it to see the's not a very good picture, but I only wanted to convey the abundance;0)

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Seeing Things

This year has been lean for mushrooms here. "Usually" this white coral fungus comes out in November all along the south edge of our property. It finally appeared a few days ago in a few little clumps. The needles are douglas fir needles, about 1" long.

I first stated learning about mushrooms when I moved here 6 years ago. Those first two years were awesome mushroom years. I have a photo album full of photos cataloging about 90 distinct kinds(I numbered them because I didn't know their names yet). Each year I go through and pencil in when I find them, kind of like recording wildfower blossom times(which I also keep record of). At first I thought mushrooms were as regular and dependable as wildflowers, but I've discovered they appear on entirely their own capricious schedule.

By far the most mass of a mushroom or fungus is hidden in the ground or in a rotting log. The mushroom we see is it's "flower", which it sends up to release spores only when the underground "roots" have gathered enough nutrients to support making the "flower". This may take years. You can learn what trees and environments certain species prefer and make an educated guess as to where you might find some, but know that in the end they can be maddeningly unpredictable and elusive and puzzling--which makes finding mushrooms akin to finding pirate gold(and mushroom lovers will know what I mean!).

SO, how to find them. I've started reading Stirring the Mud by Barbara Hurd. Here's a few paragraphs about what makes a good mushroom finder, by way of thinking about looking:

"It is, perhaps the single thread running through mysticism--that you must wait patiently, that to go hunting what is mysterious and life changing with a magnifying glass or a jabstick, armed with intent and a sense of your own deserving goodness is futile. Biologists say that wild animals often interpret a head-on stare as an act of aggression. The moment you decide to stare down the periphery, it is no longer periphery. What might have beeen there either will overwhelm you, or more likely, will sink out of sight, melt back into the trees, retreat into the inaccessible reaches of memory.
"The paradox is that to see clearly, you must learn to see obliquely. You must look ahead and, at the same time, widen your peripheral vision so that it extends not just in great arcs around your head, but over the ege, into the margins where the visible and invisible, dreams and reality, land ans water, emptiness and profusion mingle. It exists at the edge of things, in the vast margins, like a wild animal. The trick is to wander there without intention, to float eye-to-eye with fringed orchids, to make yourself available to what lives there..." page 12-13

Amazing what mushrooms have to teach us....

On a sad note, I have to return Mushrooms Demystified, by David Arora, back to the library. It's a wonderfully thick and dense field guide to CA-OR-WA 'shrooms, with all the technical hoo-hah, humor and off-kilter nicknames that come from true love("wuv, twu wuv"!). Here are a few too good to pass up(I suspect Arora made some up):

Lizard's Claw Stinkhorn
Dung-Loving Bird's Nest Fungus
Starving Man's Licorice
Hairy Fairy Cap
Chicken Lips
Dead Man's Fingers
Dead Man's Foot
Poor Man's Gumdrop
Big Laughing Mushroom
Train Wrecker
Plums and Custard
Woman On Motorcycle
Poison Pie
Slippery Jill
Pungent Slippery Jack
Acrobatic Earth Star

Hmmm, back to the white coral fungus---Scalped Cauliflower? Branching Bone? Frozen Exploding Pimple?

Monday, April 2, 2007

Spring Firsts

An update of firsts from the past two weeks. I am at 960', about 30 miles inland as the crow flies. In the first mile and a half down to the pavement it drops about 500'. Flowers and leafing trees there are appearing about 1 week before they do here. Kinda interesting what a difference 500' makes in Spring's schedule.
The First Oregon Iris of 2007!

The tallest(and so maybe the FIRST?) Bracken Fern frond. They have the same curve and head tilt-wave and long eyelashes as giraffes on the savannah(at least to me...). The deer have been nipping their heads off.
Dew drops on spider web-mesh.

The FIRST Fawn Lily! The petals droop and curl with the humidity.

The "Little Pink Flower"--the second flower of Spring(after violets). I have NO idea what this is, I can't find it in my shelf of field guides(really).

The FIRST Spring Beauty. Tasty in salad, FULL of vitamin C. Succulent!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Home, Where My Music's Playin

Today was full of cold sunshine and shifting winds--clean fresh air I could breathe deep into. I played outside all day, taking my walk(8 miles--I needed to go for a long time), gathering rocks for the edging around my new firepit, starting a fire, walking the dog, picking flowers, sitting by the fire admiring my new firepit, and watching the turkey vultures soar. All my chosen activities on this sun-day of rest. And my head is blown clear of pavement, advertising, California-bling and all the insomniacal(is that a word?)weariness it inspired.
I took this photo while walking the dog after supper. The clouds were doing amazing things, one moment looking dark and stormy, the next brilliantly pure and cheery when the sun broke through the "glory holes", sending rays down on the forest.
All I could think of was how thankful I am to see these things, to live within them.