Friday, June 10, 2016

More than meets the average eye

 One does not usually visit a college campus to experience wild nature.  Some other kinds of "wild" occur, of course, but I'm thinking of wildflowers and wildlife.  But the Feather River College campus is surrounded by forest and has both permanent and seasonal watercourses running through.  Despite human attempts to "tame" the wild - i. e., mow lawns, eradicate gophers, and monitor mule deer behavior with electronic collars, what remains of wilderness still penetrates the fringes.   On an afternoon hike last week, I got off the nature trail just a few yards and encountered some wildflowers such as the Leopard Lily above, and the "naturalized" Yellow Salsify, AKA Goat's Beard, below.
 There were also a few specimens of Blue Dicks, a lily, and...
 Sierra Stickseed (below), a kind of wild Forget-Me-Not.  In these dry times, not many native wildflowers are easily spotted on campus.  Much more prominent are the roadside and pathside daisies (non-native) and the expansive playing fields and other lawns.  And, of course, the trees.
Along the western edge of campus where the nature trail is located are some very large trees.  Douglas-fir, Ponderosa Pine, Sugar Pine, White Fir, California Black Oak, Bigleaf Maple, White Alder, and others.  Beneath the trees are less noticeable but equally beautiful wildflowers such a Poison Hemlock, Trail Plant, Spotted Coralroot, Corn Flower, Lemmon's Wild Ginger, many species of wild violets, and a good variety of fungi.
This particular hike got me to reminiscing on wildflower and insect photos I have taken on campus over the past several years, and a quick perusal of my photo archives revealed over 100 species of wildflowers.  Many of these photos include spider and insect visitors to said plants. 
I have decided to gather these photos and organize them, and attempt to put together a Enjoying the Wild at Feather River College DVD and/or booklet that will include natural history notes, folk lore, etymologies, and other material about these flowers and bugs.  For those who live at or near the college, some of the available pleasures include learning what is "in season" and anticipating seasonal changes, comparing conditions from year to year, and introducing the "wild" environment to visitors.
My self-imposed timeline says I need to have this project accomplished by mid-August.
Meanwhile, another distraction coming up tomorrow.  I'll be guiding a trip to the Butterfly Valley Botanical Area.  It might be wise to leave my camera at home this time so I can get back to my to-do list rather than be tempted to change it.

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