Showing posts from February, 2011

Wild Fidalgo:  The BirdCam Catches Winter Weather

Red-shafted Northern Flicker ( Colaptes auratus ) From Wild Fidalgo , the BirdCam catches some avian visitors during a stretch of unseasonal winter weather.  Although we have gotten snow as late as April here, even February snowfall is rare.  The February 23rd storm dropped as much as 14 inches/36 cm in some areas of lowland western Washington.  For a time on Wednesday evening, 30 miles of Interstate 5 was shut down between Arlington and Alger where drivers were overwhelmed by the conditions.  South Fidalgo received about 6 inches/15 cm during the storm.  Temperatures have remained below freezing.  February is normally rainy and overcast with temperatures in the 40's and 50's F (4° to 13° C).  Occasional sun breaks provide evidence that spring is on the way.  Tomorrow promises to bring back normal temperatures and very welcome rain, under the circumstances.

Another Mystery Plant

I have another unknown plant to submit for help with identification.  This one grows out of the high bank that borders the west shore of Similk Bay .  The habitat is continuous, deep shade under overhanging trees with constant seepage of springs out of the clay bank.  It must also tolerate the splashing of salt water during storms and high tides.  Large, palmate leaves grow more than 18 inches (46 cm) wide on thick stems from a common origin forming a rosette.  Leaves and stems are smooth, almost waxy, hairless and shiny.  I have never seen any flowers. They grew in great numbers out of the exposed clay low along the beach amid constant seepage.  Recently, I was startled to discover that much of the bank had collapsed.  Very few of these plants remain at the moment.  This little specimen with 6 inch leaves was the only one I could reach for a photo. Searching through Pojar and the internet have not been productive.  If anyone can identify it, I would appreciate hearing from you. 

Take Your Weather Station Mobile

In a previous post , I described some "apps" for the iPhone/iPod Touch useful for nature lovers.  If you have a home weather station and upload data to a Weather Underground account, you can create a nifty, comprehensive weather "app" for your mobile device. Note that these instructions refer to an iPhone or iPod Touch.  They may also work with an Android, Blackberry or other platform.  The app is nothing more than a web site viewed in your browser.  Give it a try and post a comment here with the results.  I will update this post to include what has been learned.  For simplicity I will just use "iPhone" in the instructions. UPDATE:  For Android devices see the post " Android Update " (July 20, 2012) You can create a feed for any Weather Underground station.  To illustrate, I am using my friend WxRanger's station in eastern Washington.  You can substitute the appropriate data for your own PWS: 1.)  Open the internet browser on y

Heart Lake Close-Ups

Back in December, we visited Whistle Lake in the Anacortes Community Forest Lands .  Recall that these are 2,800 acres of pristine forest, meadows and wetlands located within the city limits of Anacortes, Washington.  Networks of trails and old logging roads provide access to the interiors of the forests.  Heart Lake is another section and again we are joining a hike led by Denise Crowe of Friends of the Forest . The trail begins at the parking lot in the photo above.  The large stone on the left has been used as a feeding station by squirrels.  Notice the Douglas Fir cone leaves left behind after removing the seeds.  On the right is a Pacific Madrona ( Arbutus menziesii ) showing evidence of leaf blight.  This has appeared on some of the trees around the area this year, including one in my yard.  They are very sensitive to environmental conditions.  They will most likely survive and new leaves will sprout in late spring.  These are broadleaved evergreens related to Rhododendro

Winter Bloom

February is when thoughts of gardening start coming to mind more and more.  A walk around the garden this weekend revealed that things are starting to come to life.  Among the native plants, Oregon Grape and Indian Plum are beginning to bloom now.  Red Current is sprouting leaves and won't be far behind.  The tiny flowers of Sarcococca are filling the air with perfume.  Hellebores and Chinese Witch Hazel are also opening their flowers and Irises are coming up.  Japanese Skimmia are still holding the shiny red berries they bore last fall. Even in the dark and cold of mid-winter, there is one plant that always treats us with flowers, even here in our northern latitude.  The hybrid Mahonia x media 'Charity' is a cross between Chinese and Japanese Mahonias .  These are cousins of our native Oregon Grape ( M. aquifolium ).  Mine grows well on the shady north side of the house.  Although it can "see the sky," it never gets direct sunlight.  Nevertheless, it always

Once upon a time... a land far away, food insurance was provided by big, wealthy corporations.  They were members of the Really Big Business guild.  To purchase food at the supermarket, you simply showed your food insurance card to the checker and your food plan took care of the payment.  Well, at least, that was the theory. The cost of food in this land was fairly low, but the price of food was very high.  It was the most expensive food on earth.  Most people did not understand the difference between the cost of food and the price of food.  The people equated the price of food with its quality.  The details were hidden from the people by a complicated food insurance system.  The Town Crier, whose salary was paid by Really Big Business, made no effort to inform the people of the facts.  Because the price of food was very high, the premiums for food insurance were also very high. Many employers provided food insurance to their workers.  Because the premiums were so high, this was an expensiv