Showing posts from September, 2016

Madronas of Deception Pass

This past week, I took a short hike at Hoypus Point in Deception Pass State Park.  Driving over there, I was astounded by the Pacific Madronas (Arbutus menziesii) along Highway 20.  On the Fidalgo side of the pass, the trees on both sides of the road were ablaze with clusters of berries.  In nearly thirty years living here, I had never seen anything quite like it.  I had to return to get a closer look and some photos. It is normal for some of the trees to sport a few clusters of berries in the fall.  But not like this.  The unusual fruitfulness of the Madronas is undoubtedly the result of the equally spectacular bloom that I posted about last spring. The berry-like fruits are called drupes .  Other examples of drupes are coffee beans, cherries, coconuts and peaches.  The red color in the photos is not the result of editing.  In fact, my camera tends to over saturate reds and I had to subtract a lot it from the photos to get them to look right. The photos I took of the

Barking 2:  Identifications

In a previous post, Barking up the Right Tree , I introduced the trunks of six trees seen along local hiking trails.  The task was to try and identify them using only their bark.  This post will reveal the trees in the photos.  I have added a seventh tree here that was not in the first post.  These are the "seven biggies" you are likely to encounter while hiking in local forests. Normally, trees are identified by their leaves, scales or needles.  But in a mature forest, it my not be possible to see them in the canopy.  During the winter, deciduous trees drop their leaves, so other features must be used for identification.  Bark may be all we can see from the trail.  Click or right-click the photos to see larger versions. Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) This is the king of conifers in the Pacific Northwest.  In a mature tree, the bark is the craggiest and roughest of all with deep furrows forming long, wide strips.  It is the craggy, rugged old man of the forest.  

Skywatch Friday:  Autumnal Equinox

Looking south, the Skagit Bay sky at the moment of the autumnal equinox, 7:21 a.m. US Pacific Time, 14:21 GMT.  At that moment, the sun is directly over the equator.  The weather forecast for the day:  Mostly sunny, 65° F, 18° C.

Skywatch Friday:  Meteorological Fall

September 1 is the first day of "meteorological fall" and our weather has changed right on schedule.  This is the sky over Skagit Bay this evening.  This seasonal reckoning is different from "astronomical fall."  It begins this year with the autumnal equinox on September 22nd.  The tilt of the earth defines it.  The months of September, October and November make up meteorological fall defined by the weather. This is what the sky looked like three days ago.  That night and the next day, September 1, we would get almost an inch of rain.  Before that, the last time it had rained here was July 9th.  With one of the warmest summers on record, we were experiencing a significant drought.  Gardens and woodlands were suffering.  A statewide outdoor burn ban was in effect.  The drought was finally broken with a convergence zone sitting over us for several hours.  At one point, my weather station measured a rainfall rate of 3.11 inches/hour, 78.99 cm/hour. Those roll