Friday, June 17, 2011
An Oakland Camp Sampler
I guess summer, biologically speaking, has finally begun. Yesterday I photographed Farewell-to-Spring, Clarkia dudleyana. Photos of that will appear soon. But first, here are a few the arrived in spring while we were still having intermittent rain. The area in and around Oakland Feather River Camp on Spanish Creek is burtsing with wildflower activity. It will take several posts to catch up. From the top, we have the Western Dog Violet, Viola adunca, which is the only violet violet around here. The other local species are mostly yellow and one is white. Next, we have two photos of the elegant Mountain Lady Slipper, the second of which shows a pollinating wasp inside. After many tries, I could not catch the wasp rested on the outside of the flower; he zipped in and out of the flower many times and I wasn't quick enough. I stop at this spot every day, determined to get a clear shot of the wasp. Next is the first ripe Gooseberry I've seen this year. I'm sure on some nearby sunny slope they are plentiful. The bottom photo is of the only specimen I've seen of the Small Larkspur, Delphinium depauperatum. The whole plant is only about 8 inches tall and it's bound to get trampled as it's in a busy foot traffic area within the camp.
One of the reasons nature study around camp is so fascinating has to do with the topography. Spanish Creek flows through in a generally northwesterly direction, but it takes a sharp, right angle bend through a fairly deep canyon - deep enough to frustrate cell phone users. :) There are three creeks that flow off the neighboring Mt. Hough Game Refuge in a southwesterly direction and enter Spanish Creek at right angles. This results in many microhabitats, each with its own complement of wildflowers and underbrush. Some north-facing slopes are in the shade most of the time. The east-facing slopes get morning sun. The south-facing get sun nearly all day. Species that bloom on a south-facing slope in May may not bloom for another month on a north facing slope, or may not occur there at all. The exciting thing for one who leads nature hikes is that you can experience a month or more of seasonal stages within a walk of a mile or two. There are lots of very large fir and pine trees along Spanish Creek as well as the several common hardwoods like California Black Oak and White Alder. Spanish Creek is still carrying lots of snow melt from Spanish Peak and the water is still flowing over the road on the way into camp. Pretty cold swimming, but lots of sun bathing is going on already.