Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Items of interest in a parched landscape

 Last Friday I parked at the edge of Chandler Road near where the Cascades trail crosses.  I had my phone camera, a pack of gum, and no water, so I didn't expect to go far.  I wanted to hike maybe a few hundred yards to see what I could see, and maybe come back on Saturday better equipped - my real camera and some water.  As soon as I got away from the pavement there was no more greenery at ground level.  That is, until I came across this healthy young bracken fern.  I liked the setting - the shadow and the proximity to a rotting stump which is always a source of insect and fungus activity, and maybe even a spider or lizard or two.  But I didn't pick at the stump.  Save that for another day.  The Western Bracken is particularly fascinating to me because I first learned Brackens from the Eastern Bracken in Florida.  Same species, but totally different habitat, tolerances, and maybe some minor anatomical differences.  The Western Bracken seems to be very tolerant of a wide range of conditions - wet, dry, hot, cold, etc.  In Florida, it seemed to me there was not such a wide range of conditions on land, so I don't know how tolerant the Eastern Bracken would be if conditions changed.  According to the latest news, we may find out sooner than we'd like.
 A little further down (actually, up) the trail, I came across the remains of a squirrel's dinner.  Since I had recently dined on corn-on-the-cob, this scene resembled that, and maybe even the manner of eating was similar.  Click on the photo for an enlargement, then do your own archaeological hypothesizing.
I saw nothing else of great interest until I reverted to one of my life-long habits of tipping over rocks, logs, bark, garbage, etc., in hopes of finding items of interest underneath.  Lo and behold, under a rather large piece of Ponderosa Pine bark, I spied this cluster of insect eggs, or egg cases.  This whole cluster was only about 1/4" across.  By now I was very hot and thirsty, so I turned off my curiosity, replaced the bark, and headed home.  But, I remember where it was.  Might make a return trip to see if anything hatched.

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