Three Guardsmen Pass

The Haines Highway curves past Three Guardsmen Lake at the Three Guardsmen Peaks, spectacular scenery all around, at the high point of the pass. Following a tip in Birdfinding in BC, a recent publication by Russell & Richard Cannings, we stopped for a hike into Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park.

Gully

Stonehouse Creek Gully


Everything to the west of the road is in the park, and a trail is not needed. We followed Stonehouse Creek uphill to some beautiful tundra terrain & birding habitat.

Moose & Calves

Moose & Calves


On the other side of the deep gully, a mother Moose with two calves grazed far above the river below.

Sentinel

Three Guardsmen Tundra


A few patches of snow lingered in the tundra among a carpet of mosses, lichens & flowers.

Alpine Azalea

Alpine Azalea


An intricately textured patch of alpine-azalea (Kalmia procumbens) had both white & pink flowers.

Phlox & Potentilla

Phlox & Potentilla


Purple phlox contrasted with golden cinquefoil or potentilla.

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Sparrow & Scenery


Golden-crowned Sparrows were everywhere, singing in the fabulous landscape.

Pygmy Pussytoes

Pygmy Pussytoes


A cluster of pygmy pussytoes (Antennaria monocephala) was a new species for us.

White Mountain-avens

White Mountain-avens


Patches of entire-leaved mountain-avens (Dryas integrifolia) are among the most characteristic plants of the alpine tundra.

Three Guardians

Three Guardsmen


The dramatic peaks of the Three Guardsmen rose far beyond the patches of alpine flowers.

Three Guardians

Three Guardsmen & Creek


Every few metres was a new composition with the creeks & mountains.

Willow Ptarmigan

Willow Ptarmigan


A richly-coloured Willow Ptarmigan peered out from the willow shrubs & snow-like lichen.

Arctic Lupine

Arctic Lupine


The hairs of arctic lupine (Lupinus arcticus) help reduce drying, water & heat loss in the windy & cold alpine environment.

ARctic Sweek Coltsfoot

Arctic Sweet Coltsfoot


In a wet area we found tiny Arctic sweet coltsfoot (Petasites frigidus), much smaller than coltsfoot on Vancouver Island.

Bog-rosemary

Bog-rosemary


A tiny bog-rosemary (Andromeda polifolia) about to bloom was an unexpected find.

Northern Shootingstar

Northern Shootingstar


This little northern shootingstar (Dodecatheon frigidum) was also smaller than the shootingstars we were familiar with.

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover


Several Semi-palmated Plovers scurried around the lichen-covered gravel flats back near the road.

Semipalmated Plover Displaying

Semipalmated Plover Displaying


This one folded its tail downward occasionally, possibly displaying or distracting us from a nest, which would have been impossible to find among the rocks.

Posted in Animals, Birds, Botany, Flowers, Mountains, Travel | 1 Comment

The Dalton Trail

The road north from Haines Alaska was originally a trading trail of the Chilkat Tlingit people – the ‘grease trail’ , named after the eulachon fish, the most important trade item. With the gold rush of the 1890’s , the trail was transformed, named after Jack Dalton who developed a series of trading posts in the area.

Mountains & Glaciers

Mountains & Glaciers


Following the Chilkat River, the road passes through spectacular terrain of mountains & glaciers.

Yellow Mountain-avens

Yellow Mountain-avens


Yellow mountain-avens (Dryas drummondii) blooming along the roadside also grow all the way up to the alpine tundra.

Border Crossing Mountains

Border Crossing Mountains


About 45 min. drive from Haines is the border crossing into British Columbia. Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park begins on the other side of the border, in the very northwestern corner of BC. With Kluane National Park & Reserve to the north in the Yukon, and Glacier Bay & Wrangell-St. Elias National Parks and Preserves to the west in Alaska, the whole area is the world’s largest international park complex. The park system was designated in 1994 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the spectacular glacier and icefield landscapes as well as the important wildlife habitat.

Mountains & Alpine

Mountains & Alpine


In just another 20 minutes from the border, at about 800m elevation, the snow-capped mountains meet lush green subalpine, all within Tatshenshini Provincial Park.

Singing Hermit Thrush

Singing Hermit Thrush


We stopped to ramble into the landscape – a singing Hermit Thrush was a familiar bird, but not as shy as we were accustomed to.

Labrador Tea

Labrador Tea


The Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum) here was as small as the low-spreading blueberries.

Alpine Azalea

Alpine Azalea


Carpets of alpine azalea (Kalmia procumbens) bloomed among the lichens.

Nagoonberry

Nagoonberry


Dwarf nagoonberry (Rubus arcticus) also caught our eye – a northern plant not common on Vancouver Island.

Inky Gentian

Inky Gentian


The most beautiful flower in the landscape was the inky gentian (Gentiana glauca) , small gentian of the high country & a true species of the north.

Grizzly Footprint

Grizzly Footprint

Another sign of the north – this Grizzly Bear footprint was easily 12″ long.

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Moose Meadows

From Haines Alaska, we visited Chilkat State Park, encompassing the southern end of the Chilkat Peninsula that separates Chilkat Inlet from Chilkoot Inlet. The trail to Moose Meadows led through forest reminiscent of our own Vancouver Island woods.

Moose Meadows & Mountains

Moose Meadows & Mountains


Emerging at Moose Meadows, the scene was completely different, and spectacular – meadows full of large, colourful wildflowers, with the turquoise Chilkat Inlet & snow-capped Chilkat Mountains & Glacier Bay beyond.

Red Columbine

Red Columbine


Red columbine (Aquilegia formosa) grew tall & prolific in the meadows.

Nootka Rose

Nootka Rose


Abundant shrubs of Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana) were flowering bright pink.

Northern Geranium

Northern Geranium


Most widespread was tall, purple northern geranium (Geranium erianthum), which only grows north of Haida Gwaii – not as far south as Vancouver Island.

Moose Meadows

Moose Meadows


We were visiting at the peak time for flowers – the entire field of view was a full spectrum of colours.

Blunt-leaved Sandwort

Sea Milkwort


Down at the shore, sea-milkwort (Glaux maritima) bloomed pale pink among the rocks.

Surf Scoters at Sea

Surf Scoters at Sea


A raft of Surf Scoters floated on water as turquoise as any in the tropics.

Chilkat Inlet & Davidson Glacier

Chilkat Inlet & Davidson Glacier


The Davidson Glacier, that we had seen from the ferry the previous day, descends to almost touch the salt water.

Meadows, Mountains & Glaciers

Meadows, Mountains & Glaciers


The Rainbow Glacier hangs above Chilkat Inlet. Golden buttercup carpeted the seashore meadow.

Iris & Inlet

Wild Iris & Inlet


A giant cluster of wild-flag iris (Iris setosa) accented the rocky beach, beside patches of tall northern rice root.

Northern Rice Root

Northern Rice Root


The northern rice root (Fritillaria camschatcensis) was in the upper meadows but even more prolific near the shore.

Pretty Shootingstar

Pretty Shootingstar


In the wettest areas near the shore, quantities of pretty shootingstar (Dodecatheon pulchellum) were yet another shade of pink.

Unalaska Paintbrush

Unalaska Paintbrush


As we made our way back along the beach, yellow unalaska paintbrush (Castilleja unalaschcensis) was a fitting flower finale.

Haines & Mountains

Haines & Mountains


At 9 in the evening, there was still a couple more hours of daylight to explore the town of Haines. The symmetrical buildings of historic Fort Seward, the last of a series of military posts established in Alaska during the gold rush era, surround a sloping green in the centre.

Mountains

Mountains


The sharp peaks of the Takhinska Mountains rise 2000m behind the town.

Posted in Birds, Flowers, Mountains, Travel | 3 Comments

North to Alaska

A month ago we embarked on an excursion northward, hoping to reach the Arctic Circle. The first part of the journey was the Alaska Marine Highway, the ferry service along the Inside Passage. As it is part of the US highway system, there are no stops in Canada, so we actually had to travel southward first, to board in the Port of Bellingham, Washington.

Somewhere in the Mist

Somewhere in the Mist


Despite the sunny evening start, the wet west coast weather soon settled in, and for the next several days the landscape was mist & ocean.

Sea Horizon

“Sea Horizon”


The colours of the sea & sky inspired an attempt at art photography.

Driad Lighthouse

Dryad Lighthouse

All along the coast of British Columbia, the communities are remote and the scenery wild. Dryad Point Lighthouse just north of Bella Bella BC, is a spot of colour in a blue-gray landscape.

Cedar Waxwings

Cedar Waxwings


Reaching US waters, the settlements increase, with the first stop in Ketchican, Alaska. In the town Cedar Waxwings were fluffed up against the damp weather.

Eagle on Steeple

Eagle on Steeple


A Bald Eagle dried its wings on a church steeple.

Conspiracy of Ravens

A Conspiracy of Ravens


A cluster of ravens lent a further atmosphere of mystery to this misty northern community.

Lynn Canal

Lynn Canal


By Wrangell, the rain was unrelenting, continuing as we stopped in Petersburg and Juneau. Only as we approached Haines on the afternoon of the fourth day did the clouds begin to lift, to reveal towering mountains with steep avalanche chutes sliding into the turquoise waters of the Lynn Canal, the deepest fjord in North America.

Davidson Glacier

Davidson Glacier


The first glimpse of a glacier as we entered the Chilkoot Inlet, just before Haines, was the Davidson Glacier. In 1879, as described by John Muir, it was a tidewater glacier that extended into the Chilkat Inlet, on the far side of the Chilkat peninsula, but has since receded into the mountains.

Haines Alaska

Haines Alaska


On our arrival in Haines the clouds started to rise over the Takhinska Mountains behind historic Fort Seward and Haines adjacent, hinting at the immense landscape to come.

Posted in Birds, Sea & Sky, Travel | 2 Comments

Giant Trees, Tiny Birds

Port Renfrew on the west coast of Vancouver Island is considered the ‘Big Tree Capital of Canada‘, and the Ancient Forest Alliance provides a map & directions to the big trees.

Harris Creek Spruce

Harris Creek Spruce


On the road leading toward the west coast, still 30 km from Port Renfrew, a roadside sign indicates the short trail to view the Harris Creek Spruce. This huge Sitka spruce has a wide flaring base, over 4 m in diameter.

Harris Creek Spruce Skyward

Harris Creek Spruce Skyward

The twisted branches are thickly coated with mosses.

San Juan River & Sitka Spruce

San Juan River & Sitka Spruce

Heading farther west, a good logging road branches off to cross the San Juan River, where the next big tree soars above the lower canopy.

San Juan Spruce

San Juan Spruce

The San Juan Spruce is Canada’s largest Sitka spruce, based on the volume of wood. The 62.5 m high giant grows in a beautiful, peaceful setting beside the river.

Hammond's Flycatcher

Hammond’s Flycatcher

The three-part whistle of a Hammond’s Flycatcher punctuated the quiet surroundings.

Red Creek Fir

Red Creek Fir

Several more km along, the logging road becomes rougher, requiring a four-wheel drive. The destination is spectacular however – the Red Creek Fir. Measuring 4.3 m in diameter, it is the World’s Largest Douglas-fir.

Red Creek Fir Skyward

Red Creek Fir Skyward

Impossible to capture even with a wide-angle photo, the 73.8 m tall giant is estimated to be 750 to 1000 years old.

Wilson's Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler

The trills of little Wilson’s Warblers filled the woods everywhere.

Second Gnarliest Tree

Second Gnarliest Tree

From Port Renfrew, the next journey is to Avatar Grove, made famous in 2010 after being named for the landmark Hollywood film. The Lower Grove features huge red cedars including the ‘Second Gnarliest Tree’ in the woods.

Canada's Gnarliest Tree

Canada’s Gnarliest Tree

A steeper trail leads to ‘Canada’s Gnarliest Tree’, an amazing red cedar of swirling roots and twisted burls with a multitude of anthropomorphic features in the contorted bark.

Bark Owl

Bark Owl

On the nearby trees, several more little birds appeared, carved of bark fragments & other fallen wood, animating this magical place.

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Helliwell Park, from Grand to Small

Helliwell Park on Hornby Island is one of the top nature viewing spots in the Comox Valley. Spectacular bluffs of conglomerate rock host one of the driest ecosystems of the area, noticeably warmer than any nearby location on sunny days.

Arbutus

Arbutus

Where the dry Douglas-fir forest opens up to the coastal bluff meadow, the Arbutus (Arbutus menziesii) are huge & healthy.

Eagle & Douglas-fir

Eagles & Douglas-fir

Bald Eagles are always present in the woods, the tall snags providing perches to look out over the meadows & ocean beyond.

Helliwell Bluffs

Helliwell Bluffs

The view from the bluffs is always grand, with far mountains beyond.

Common Camas

Common Camas

In the meadow we found several blooms of common camas (Camassia quamash) which we expected in this landscape.

Meadow Death-camas

Meadow Death-camas

Most of the camas blooming however was meadow death-camas (Zigadenus venenosus), with leaves similar to common camas, but quite different flowers.

Poverty Clover

Poverty Clover

We were thrilled to find patches of one of the little rare flowers we had come for, poverty clover (Trifolium depauperatum).

Poverty Clover Closeup

Poverty Clover Closeup

The individual flowers have a fascinating puffed shape as they mature, eventually drying into a cluster of ‘balloons’.

Tomcat Clover

Tomcat Clover

Another clover nearby, tomcat clover (Trifolium willdenowii), had larger flowers.

White-tipped Clover

White-tipped Clover

Yet another clover was the white-tipped clover (Trifolium variegatum).

Popcornflower

Popcornflower

Among the diminutive white flowers was popcornflower (Plagiobothrys scouleri) showing bright yellow centres.

Bi-coloured Flaxflower

Bi-coloured Flaxflower

Another miniscule bloom was bicolored flaxflower (Leptosyphon minimus) with its fringed ‘skirt’ of leaves.

Sandwort species

Sandwort species

We couldn’t name this little flower with pink stamens, beyond identifying it as a sandwort species.

Blue-eyed Grass

Blue-eyed Grass

One of the highlights was a great area of blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium littorale), as abundant as a camas patch.

Bluffs with Woolly Sunflower

Bluffs with Woolly Sunflower

Bright yellow woolly sunflower (Eriophyllum lanatum) edged the cliffs in one spot.

Bluffs With Chocolate Lily

Bluffs With Chocolate Lily

In another, a patch of chocolate lily (Fritillaria affinis) were flowering in the sun.

Helliwell Bluffs

Helliwell Bluffs

The trail along the edge led toward a rocky point, the farthest east we could go on the island.

Red Maids

Red Maids

In the grasses on the point we found the final treasure, a few tiny red maids (Calandrinia ciliata) on their succulent stems, almost finished flowering for the season.

Posted in Botany, Flowers, Geology | 1 Comment

A Sea of Camas

The recent BC Nature Annual General Meeting in Victoria was a chance to become fully immersed in the abundant richness of spring. One of our outings was a field trip to Uplands Park where the camas meadows were at their peak.

Sea of Blue

Sea of Blue


The first introduction to the park is a sea of purple-blue camas covering the ground. The earliest European explorers to the area famously described the abundant camas meadows as resembling lakes of fine clear water – the extent of the blue colour was so great.

Common Camas

Common Camas

Common camas (Camassia quamash) is one of the most beautiful plants of the lily family, and one of the most important to native peoples . The bulbs were an important staple food.

Camas & Garry Oaks

Camas & Garry Oaks


The landscape of Garry oak (Quercus garryana) trees, surrounded by fields of camas & dotted with yellow western buttercup, is spectacular.

Camas & Shootingstar

Camas & Shootingstar

Swaths of the blue camas were accented in places with the bright pink of pretty shootingstar.

Pretty Shootingstar

Pretty Shootingstar

Pretty shootingstar (Dodecatheon pulchellum) is aptly named with the rich colour & delicate details of the flowers.

Garry Oaks

Garry Oaks

The gnarly Garry oaks invite endless compositions for photography.

Camas Landscape

Camas Landscape

Moss-covered rocky outcrops alternate with lush flower meadows.

Spring Gold

Spring-gold

Other yellow flowers in the meadows include spring-gold (Lomatium utriculatum) . The taproots may have been ‘wild carrots’ eaten by the native peoples.

Indian Plum

Indian Plum

The berries of Indian-plum (Oemleria cerasiformis) were eaten by many First Nations, and the twigs & bark also used for remedies.

Plantainleaf Buttercup

Plantainleaf Buttercup

Plantainleaf buttercup (Ranunculus alismifolius) was one of the first rare plants pointed out by the trip leader. Several patches of this blue-listed species were blooming in wet spots on one of the paths – the plant apparently requires a small amount of trampling to thrive!

Garry Oak & Camas

Garry Oak & Camas

As the sun came out the gnarled shapes of the mature trees twisted against the blue sky.

Garry Oaks & Meadow

Garry Oaks & Meadow

Garry oak ecosytems are not only beautiful but combined with associated ecosystems are home to more plant species than any other terrestrial ecosystem in coastal British Columbia. Many of these species occur nowhere else in Canada.

Garry Oak Leaves

Garry Oak Leaves

The leaves of Garry oak have a stem, but there is no stem on the acorns. In contrast, the very similar English oak has no stem on the leaves, but has a stem on the acorn.

Garry Oak Meadow

Garry Oak Meadow

Much work has been done to remove invasive plants from Uplands Park, particularly Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) . A dozen years ago when I last explored the area, it was impossible to photograph the landscape without including some of the yellow-blooming shrubs. Now , the broom rarely interrupts a photograph.

White Broom & Camas

White Broom & Camas

In one area there was unusual white-blooming Scotch broom ! Not sure if this is considered a rarity – it may be a hybrid or a garden cultivar escaped from nearby gardens.

White Camas

White Camas

The occassional bloom of common camas was white also.

Great Camas

Great Camas

A few patches of great camas (Camassia leichtlinii) were also blooming. The great camas is noticeably taller, and the petals are more equal length & symmetrically arranged when compared to the common camas.

Seashore Lupine

Seashore Lupine

A bit more purple was provided by small seashore lupine (Lupinus littoralis) flowering on moss-covered rocky outcrops.

Star-flowered False Solomon's-seal

Star-flowered False Solomon’s-seal

In a shaded area of the park were blooms of star-flowered false Solomon’s-seal ( Smilacina stellata) .

Poverty Clover

Poverty Clover

Across the road from Uplands Park, the rocky seaside of Cattle Point has a few more rare flowers. Our trip leader pointed out a patch of poverty clover (Trifolium depauperatum) among the exposed outcrops.

Poverty Clover

Poverty Clover

I had last seen this blue-listed plant at Helliwell Park on Hornby Island, where the flowers seemed larger than here.

Macoun's Meadowfoam

Macoun’s Meadow-foam

The final & most rare plant , in the vernal pools between the rocks, was Macoun’s meadow-foam (Limnanthes macounii). At this time of year the blooms are finished , leaving small yellowish seed clusters at the ends of the flattened stems. This red-listed species was considered unknown from anywhere else in the world , other than from the southern part of Vancouver Island and adjacent islands, until a few native examples were found farther north near Ladysmith and on Hornby Island.

Posted in Botany, Flowers, Photography, Plants, Travel, Trees | 2 Comments

Airpark April

A new trail in the neighbourhood is a shady greenway that parallels the railway track running into the centre of town. The edge habitat is great for songbirds, and several species of native plants are emerging among the rough understorey.

White Trillium

White Trillium

Western trilliums appreciate the sunnier openings created by the new trail work.

Pink Trillium

Pink Trillium

Some of the trilliums blooms are already turning pink as they age.

White Fawn Lilies

White Fawn Lilies

In one backyard bordering the trail, a mass of native white fawn lilies catches the sun.

Pacific Bleedingheart

Pacific Bleedingheart

Blossoms of Pacific bleedingheart provide further pink colour along the path.
Leaving the greenway trail, a walk of several urban blocks leads eventually to the Courtenay Riverway & Airpark, a prime birding spot in the Comox Valley.

Short-billed Dowitchers

Short-billed Dowitchers

Shorebirds are migrating through, and at a mid-morning falling tide, several dowitchers were probing the mud of the lagoon. Distinguishing between Long-billed and Short-billed Dowitchers is about the most difficult identification in birding. I decided these were Short-billed Dowitchers, as there was some white on the belly, where the Long-billed would be more rufous coloured.

Least Sandpipers

Least Sandpipers

Several small sandpipers were feeding with the dowitchers – another identification challenge. There are three potential small ‘peeps’ in our area – Least, Western, and Semi-palmated Sandpipers. As the Semi-palmated should not have arrived yet, I had to decide between the Least and Western. At first I thought these were Western Sandpipers, with the down-curving bill, but after looking through all my photos I finally decided they were Least Sandpipers, as the legs appeared yellowish in many of the photos.

Bushtit

Bushtit

The songbirds in the nearby bushes seemed easier to identify. Bushtits with their long tails were working through the shrubs.

Orange=crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warblers have a distinctive trill which helped me find them through the greenery, blending in well with the leaves.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

I was sure I was hearing Yellow-rumped Warblers but when I spotted one it turned out to be a Yellow Warbler, bright yellow with reddish stripes on the chest. The song was a bit sweeter than the Yellow-rumped but I hadn’t expected them in the Valley already.

Pretty Shootingstar

Pretty Shootingstar

I spotted bright pink flowers at the high tide line of the estuary - pretty shootingstar (Dodecatheon pulchellum), another sign of advancing spring.

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Among the Rocks of Mitlenatch

The rocky islands & outcrops of Mitlenatch Island are excellent habitat for nesting birds – but also other fauna.

West Hill Cormorants

West Hill Cormorants & Gulls


The steep bluffs of West Hill, visible from boats offshore, are nesting sites for Pelagic Cormorants.

Rock Bluff

Rock Bluff


We saw shorebirds flying past a rocky outcrop at Camp Bay, so I ventured out to look for them at the low tide.

Black Garter Snakes

Black Garter Snakes


Under the bluff among the rocky pile was a mass of Garter Snakes, emerging in the warm sun. As they flowed over the rocks their movements made a soft sibilant sound, not quite like hissing. The snakes of Mitlenatch are unusually dark, often black.

Black Turnstone

Black Turnstone

Along the rocky shoreline were several Black Turnstones, among the flock of birds that we had seen fly in. The turnstones were in breeding plumage – with more crisply defined feathers, and a noticeable white patch behind the bill.

Surfbirds & Rockweed

Surfbirds & Rockweed

Most of the flock however were Surfbirds – actively foraging among the rockweed, exposed at the low tide but still splashed by the surf.

Surfbirds

Surfbirds

Surfbirds are rarely found away from the ocean waves. In their breeding plumage, they are quite colourful, with rufous feathers – and the yellow legs are always distinctive.

Surfbird Flying

Surfbird Flying

In flight, the tail & wing patterns are striking.

Harlequin Duck

Harlequin Duck

Harlequin Ducks also love the waves & rocky shores .

Black Oystercatchers

Black Oystercatchers

Black Oystercatchers , which nest on Mitlenatch, are always amusing, with constant excited calls.

Pigeon Guillemots

Pigeon Guillemots


My favourites are Pigeon Guillemots, with their plump but sleek shape, and red legs. In the mornings, they came in close to the rocks at Camp Bay.

Pigeon Guillemot Flotilla

Pigeon Guillemot Flotilla

When they give their tiny whistling calls, they reveal their other red accent – the bright mouth.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrows seemed to be everywhere – they also nest on Mitlenatch.

Glaucous-winged Gull Pair

Glaucous-winged Gull Pair

Thousands of Glaucous-winged Gulls nest on Mitlenatch . All of the breeding birds are the main reason the island is protected as a nature park. At this time of year, the gulls are pairing up & choosing nest sites. With this pair, one was noticeably bulkier , but I am not sure whether that is the male or female.

Gulls at Twilight

Gulls at Twilight

We had just one evening of good light at the end of the day, lighting up the rocks at Northwest Bay.

Sunset Silhouette

Sunset Silhouette

When we saw the colour in the sky, we hurried over to Northwest Bay to catch the sunset.

Mitlenatch Sunset

Mitlenatch Sunset

The setting sun lit up the incoming storm clouds & the choppy waves, as gulls soared overhead in the increasing wind.

Posted in Animals, Birds, Travel | 1 Comment

April on Mitlenatch

Once again we spent a week on Mitlenatch Island Nature Provincial Park as volunteer wardens. This was our third year as part of the stewardship team that monitors this beautiful place, a protected bird sanctuary.

Camp Bay

Camp Bay

A few mornings , the sun peaked through to highlight the spring flowers among the seashells on the rocky outcrops of the island. The islands beyond in Camp Bay are haul-outs for sea lions.

Pretty Shootingstar

Pretty Shootingstar

The morning dew delicately accented the pretty shootingstar (Dodecatheon pulchellum) , one of the first flowers to bloom on the island.

White Fawn Lily

White Fawn Lily

Clusters of white fawn lily (Erythronium oreganum) also bloom quite early in the season, this year coinciding with Easter.

Common Camas

Common Camas

Several common camas (Camassia quamash) were starting to come into bloom in the central meadows of the island.

Chocolate Lily

Chocolate Lily

This year, chocolate lily (Fritillaria affinis) were abundant in the meadow. Some of the plants were quite large – and this one had three flowers on one stem.

Brittle Pear Cactus

Brittle Pear Cactus

The island is dry enough that cactus can thrive – this cluster of brittle prickly-pear (Opuntia fragilis) on a rocky ledge gets larger every year.

Seaside Fiddleneck

Seaside Fiddleneck

A plant I hadn’t noticed in previous visits was seaside fiddleneck (Amsinckia spectabilis) with its fuzzy leaves curled like the musical instrument.

Seablush on East Hill

Seablush on East Hill

Swaths of sea blush (Plectritus congesta) carpet areas of the East Hill. Canada Geese are among the several species of birds that nest on the island.

Purple, Pink & Blue

Purple, Pink & Blue

We were thrilled to find many clusters of purple-flowering naked broomrape (Orobanche uniflora) growing amongst the pink sea blush, blue-eyed Mary, and goldmoss stonecrop(Sedum acre). This Orobanche was not on the existing plant list for the island. We speculated that it might be parasitic on the stonecrop, which is actually a non-native invasive that is starting to cover some of the rocky areas.

Orobanche Uniflora

Orobanche Uniflora


We had never seen the Orobanche in such thick clusters – it is more usual to see just a few stems.

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