Posts

Showing posts from May, 2015

Scotch Broom Warriors

Image
Last Monday, Memorial Day, an all-volunteer force gathered for the Ninth Annual Scotch Broom Pull at Hope Island State Park in Skagit County.  Our Commanding General was Jack Hartt (second from left), Manager of Deception Pass State Park.

Located in Skagit Bay, Hope Island is an uninhabited marine park and natural area preserve with primitive campsites and anchor buoys for boats.  Hope, and nearby Skagit and Kiket Islands, feature some of the last remaining pristine island ecosystems in Puget Sound.  This would be my first visit to the island.


Early Monday morning, we mustered at the Deception Pass State Park dock in Cornet Bay.


Our assault would require an amphibious landing on the island.  Conferring with Jack Hartt, Captain Brett Ginther and First Officer Alyce Salley from Deception Pass Tours provided transportation.  In peacetime, they offer whale watching excursions and boat tours of the Deception Pass area.  Memorial Day, however, would be a day for battle with the invasive Sc…

The Deception Pass Rhododendrons 2015

Image
This is the third year I have photographed the wild Pacific Rhododendrons (R. macrophyllum) in Deception Pass State Park.  Enjoy this wordless gallery of photos taken May 11, May 15 and May 23, 2015.  They are shown in chronological order:
























Each post this year has also featured the wildlife I encountered when visiting the Deception Pass rhododendrons.  Here are some Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) from Cornet Bay a week ago and the Douglas Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) I saw today on the Goose Rock Perimeter Trail:





The Rhododendron Trail 2015 Week 6

Image
This past week marked a noticeable weather transition from damp and chilly to warm and sunny.  Temperatures are now reaching the low 70's F here (21° C +).  The wild Pacific Rhododenrons (R. macrophyllum) in Deception Pass State Park are responding accordingly.




Many of the blossoms are fully opened now, but several buds promise continued blooms over the next couple of weeks.


I also spotted something unusual along the Lower Forest Trail this week.  I thought it was fungus and took a quick photo to see if I could identify it.  It turned out to be something much more interesting.

This is a form of Slime Mold, an apparently complicated organism to understand.  It can exist in single-celled, multi-celled or multi-nucleate forms.  When searching the internet for information, I could not find a good, lucid description.  Wikipedia was particularly unintelligible.  Some facts are clear.  It is not fungus, some forms can move around in search of food and it might even exhibit a kind of pro…

The Rhododendron Trail Yesterday

Image
As many times as I have visited the Pacific Rhododendrons in Deception Pass State Park, I still have to stop and process what I am seeing in my head.  The sight of these large, bright blossoms seems so incongruous under the forest canopy.  Perhaps more than 40 years growing "domestic" rhodies in the garden is the reason.  This sight is so unexpected to find in the wild.  It is easy to understand why the Pacific or Coast Rhododendron (R. macrophyllum) was designated the Washington State Flower.



Several blossoms are close to being fully opened now.  Over the next two weeks, with temperatures in the low 70's forecast,  I expect these woods to burst into full bloom.  For those of you n tune with the times, that would be temperatures around 21° C locally.




I currently have three more hikes into the rhododendron grove scheduled.  You are welcome to come along if you like:

Friday, May 8, 09:00 a.m. (I may be a little late, so please indulge me)
Saturday, May 9, 08:30 a.m.
Monda…