Tag Archive for pacific northwest

Cavorting in an Old Growth Ancient Forest

This Old Growth Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) hosts this large example of what I believe to be Heterobasidion annosum, one of the most destructive parasitic fungi that destroys conifers by attacking exposed roots and tree butts as shown here. These fungi are hugely destructive in European Forests and somewhat destructive in the North America. Given its size, this H. annosum must be getting great nutrients from this very old hemlock

Pacific Northwest

Whatcom County, WA

 

There is a 700 acre stand of old growth forest sequestered in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains about 25 miles east of Bellingham WA, and about 10 miles west of Mt. Baker at the edge of the Mt.  Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest. I had long wanted to see and experience this ancient forest as it is one of the two largest such stands in the Pacific Northwest – the other being Grove of the Patriarchs in the Mt. Rainier National Park.  Around here old growth forest is revered as an endangered vestige of our natural world as it once was in the same way that other revered PNW icons, the Orca and the salmon are endangered.  And maybe for that reason, it is a good thing that this forest is not readily accessible to the public.

Fall Color on Orcas Island and a Couple of Seals

Madrona trees in the fading sunlight along the bluff above Deer Harbor.

October 2019

Orcas Island,

Salish Sea

An October family gathering at Deer Harbor on Orcas Island was met with three days of rain and about a half an hour of glorious sun on Saturday. For the most part, the heavy cloud cover muted the usually brighter fall colors but they were great anyway.

Getting to Orcas Island is always a pleasant trip. The ferry leaves from Anacortes and stops as Lopez and Shaw Islands before depositing  us on Orcas. The ride is about one hour total.

Although most of the color was the Big Leaf Maples, I was particularly attracted to the Madrone/Madrona (Arbutus menziesii) as they were shedding their red bark and exposing their yellow for the winter. Also they appeared to having a bumper crop of red berries this year.

 

IMG_7001 (2)

Big Leaf Maples at Orcas Landing

 

      The sun appeared briefly just before it went down and I grabbed my camera and took off
      to catch some of it on the trees. I was richly rewarded with the following series
      of photos taken along a path that overlooks Deer Harbor from a bluff above.

IMG_6989

Madrona along bluff above Deer Harbor

IMG_6994

Piece of peeled red Madrona bark.

IMG_6988

IMG_6992

More Madrona showing their skin colors

 

      As I noted above, most of the time there was cloudy and wet. But this makes for some interest as well.
      I think it shows the tree structure better against the grey sky.

IMG_6921

Madrona against a grey drizzly sky

 

IMG_6965 (2)

View of Deer Harbor from our cabin deck. San Juan Island sits across the water on the left.

 

I did say there were seals

IMG_6951 (2)

A seal was out fishing and came by to check us out on the docks. This photo looks backs across the harbor to the bluff with the Madrona stand.

IMG_6957 (2)

This seal was successful having come up with a fish. The gulls were hoping for a free lunch but no such luck for them.

 

IMG_6972

The view from atop Mt. Constitution.  Compare this to what it looks like from there when clear 

 

IMG_6975

Color and clouds in East Sound

 

IMG_7002 (2)

A bumper crop of red Madrona berries., The tree was full of birds.

 

Last are a few photos of the ferry ride home

IMG_7007 (2)

Leaving Orcas island at Orcas Landing

 

IMG_7016 (2)

Shaw Island terminal with a bit of color

 

IMG_7012 (2)

Some pelagic Cormorants at the Shaw Is. dock.

 

IMG_6912

Lopez Island terminal

 

IMG_7020 (2)

More Madronas from Lopez Is. to the right of the terminal.

 

So thanks for coming along on my little tour of the San Juan Islands on a wet October weekend. It was a good trip and we enjoyed the short excursion and the few minutes of sunlight.

Saving the Nooksack III – Will Restoration Activity Be Enough to Save the Salmon?

A frosty Morn on the Nooksack, just how the salmon like it.

In parts 1 and 2, of this series I described the Nooksack River and how it’s three forks joined from the glaciers and water sheds surrounding the Mount Baker National Forest and wilderness area. The river that used to be prime spawning waters teemed with salmon that fed the local Indians for thousands of years. About 150 years ago, these waters were dramatically changed with the arrival of settlers from the east who logged the hillsides and plowed the prairie lands. These typical settler activities deprived the waters of the cooling effects of the shoreline trees and degraded the water quality with flooding silt. The natural processes that sustained the waters historically became seriously disturbed. The waters and the fish suffered as a result in proportion to their proximity to the settlements. The upper reaches are less polluted that those closer to the farming and populations centers.

Snowy Owls and Trumpeter Swans are Snow Birds to the Pacific Northwest

Juvenile female Snowy Owl, Sandy Point WA

 

November/December, 2017

At the Edge of the Salish Sea

These two snowy white birds have recently returned to our area after summering and breeding in Alaska (Trumpeter Swan) and the arctic tundra (Snowy Owl). One does not have to be an avid birder to celebrate their annual arrival as both are real showboats with their white feathers and their relatively large size. The snowy Owl is the largest by weight of the NA owls  and has a 50” wingspan while the Trumpeter Swan is our largest native waterfowl, stretching up to six feet and weighing up to 26 lbs.