Saturday, June 24, 2017

June flowers, take 2

Another batch of June flowers from Oyster Bay:

Hare's foot clover, Trifolium arvense.

So soft!

In a crack in driftwood. Unidentified, about 6 inches tall.

More of the same. A baby peppergrass, maybe?

I think this is one of the stonecrops.

I've been checking each plant I've photographed with a 2005 checklist of vascular plants from the Oyster Bay Shoreline Park. So far, everything has been on the list, but I couldn't find these stonecrops.

Yarrow, again. 

A daisy. The disc flowers develop from the edges inward.

Large-headed sedge, Carex macrocephala. I sat on a clean patch of sand to get this photo, and was attacked by a stray seed pod. Those babies are sharp!

And there's more! But I'll be offline for a few days. Coming up when I'm back: holey seaweed, black-saucer lichen, grasses ...

Friday, June 23, 2017

June flowers, Oyster Bay

Time's a-wasting. Here we are on the down slope of the year already; the days getting shorter, the sun heading south. Yesterday, dawn was at 5:11 AM; tomorrow it will be at 5:12. We've lost a whole minute already! Winter is on its way!

And in the meadows, on the dunes, along the roadsides, the flowers are playing catch-up after a late spring. The bees and the bugs are hurrying to load up on goodies. Time's running out!

Evergreen blackberry, Rubus laciniatus. Introduced from Europe, not as invasive as the Himalayan blackberry, but just as delicious.

Gold star, Crocidium multicaule.

Ocean spray, Holodiscus discolor, still mostly in bud. The open flowers will be white and fluffy.

Another Nootka rose.

Yarrow, Achillea millefolium. Each individual "flower" is made up of 3 to 8 white ray flowers (the petals) and 15 to 40 cream disc flowers. Only a few of these are open now.

Zooming in. The disc flowers, open, have yellow centres.

Yarrow in the field, as we usually see it.

Not a flower any more. Cultivated apple, growing beside Oyster Bay.

More June flowers, tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

End of a sunny day.

The skies are often dramatic over Oyster Bay, especially as the sun drops towards the western horizon.

Half the bay, with the lowest tide I've seen yet. Early evening, 7:03 PM.

7:06 PM. Sunset is not until 9:30.

Much-photographed tree, across the grassy meadow. Looking west, 7:00 PM.

8:00 PM, looking inland from the highway. Rain coming, after a hot, sunny day.

It was raining by the time I got home, at sunset.

A Skywatch post.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Scrambled jelly

The lion's mane jellies are floating in with the tide this week. On the shore at Oyster Bay, I passed a dozen in as many minutes. This one was tumbling in a mass of seaweed fragments: eelgrass, sea lettuce, Turkish towel, sargassum, rockweed and kelp, all scrambled together: as the waves rolled in at dusk; not the best opportunity for a photo, but you never know.

I saturated the colours a bit, because of the fading light, and this turned out:

Looks like an abstract painting.

It's jelly season: I collected water for the aquarium tonight, and dozens of tiny cross jellies came with it. My anemones were eating them, last time I looked.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Standing army

On guard at Oyster Bay, for the last eighty years.

A little decrepit, somewhat tipsy, but still waving flags and holding muskets.

I just realized I'd never written about the history of this bay. Must remedy that. Soon.

Saturday, June 17, 2017


I walked on the shore of Oyster Bay at low tide, collecting eelgrass for my hermit crabs. A new one came along for the ride.

Mini-hermit.The seaweed strand is like a fine string.

I took his photo in a plastic cup 2 inches across. The circle around the centre is 5 mm. wide, which makes MiniHermie about 3 mm long, shell, extended pincers and all.

Orange striped legs, a bit of blue, and striped antennae.

I added him to the tank, and he floated down until he reached the eelgrass, and grabbed on. I probably won't see him again until he grows up a bit.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Flipping wings

A four-legged crane fly dropped in for a visit, or maybe a place to rest and lick her wounds. Instead, I chased her from bathroom wall to tub to window, trying to get a photo of her pretty wings.

On the window. She's missing two left legs. 

On a glass box full of shells.

I hadn't noticed before; look at the wings. She doesn't just flap them; they also rotate. In the top photo, the leading edge, the one with the stiff ribs, is towards the back. On the box, it's now towards the front.

On a glass bottle. Leading rib is towards the front again.

And then I took pity on her and let her rest. In the morning, she had moved on.

(I know she's female because of the old-fashioned pen nib tip to her abdomen, the ovipositor.)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Woodhus Slough flowers, June

The fields where in the winter we look for trumpeter swans in pools surrounded by drowned and frozen grasses, where in late fall mushrooms red, purple, white, dot the forest floor, are now glowing with masses of flowers, mostly yellow.

Gold star, Crocidium multicaule, with fool's onion and wild rose leaves.

A small guide to this spot, Woodhus Slough, published in 1995, gives the blooming time for these as early spring: March through April. We looked for them this year in April, but there were none to be found. They're running a full month late.

The white flowers above are fool's onion:

Triteleia hyacinthina. Not an onion. The midvein is a purplish blue.

We also found a few Hooker's onions:

Allium acuminatum. This is an onion, edible, but not common, so should be left alone.

Note: a couple of weeks ago, I put my pocket camera down on a picnic table and the wind grabbed it and threw it on the cement slab, and now it doesn't work. I've dug out my old underwater pocket camera, an 8 year old model; these photos were trial shots. Not too bad for the cheapest of the old underwater cameras. This one's supposed to be shockproof, too; I wish it had been the one caught by the wind.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Trailside decor

Where the Ripple Rock trail climbs steep hills through dark, ferny woods, many purplish-blue flowers cling to the hillsides.

Coast penstemon, Penstemon serrulatus. In the background, Oregon grape leaves, another shade lover.

Out in the open, where the sun shines, the Nootka rose takes over.

Rosa nutkana. Named for Nootka Sound, on the west coast of the island, where it was first described.

A pale yellow crab spider lies in wait between two pink petals, only visible because she's stepped out of the centre of the flower.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Snag and sky

At the edge of the cliff, a dead snag stands tall, roots firmly clamped into the rock, twigs still attached. Woodpeckers have just started working on the trunk. Good eating in there!

The live trees are growing from lower down, on what looks like a bare rock face.

Ripple Rock trail, Viewpoint 1.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Double take

The Ripple Rock trail brochure classifies the trail as "Easy to Moderate". It's 8 kilometres, round trip, and takes from 2.5 to 3 hours. Yesterday, I made a second attempt at it, this time with my energetic granddaughter. I made it halfway, and turned back, to rest at the first viewpoint while she went on to the bottom of the last hill.

It's not an easy hike, although it seems so at first, where a wide road leads down, down, down to the shore at Menzies Bay. There, the trail turns and clambers up a narrow rock staircase of sorts, steep, uneven, twisty and sometimes wobbly underfoot. After a couple of bridges and more hills, we come to a viewpoint; a wide, flattish rock at the top of a cliff, carpeted with moss, dotted with flowers. We went on. The trail drops and rises, drops again. I was starting to stumble.

By the time I had given up and returned to the viewpoint, I was out of breath and a bit dizzy. (I'm not as young as I used to be, but then, who is?) I lay flat on the moss, recovering, and watched the clouds.

The view from moss level.
Cottony clouds and the treetops.

Later, I sat on a rocky outcrop, snacking on nuts and apricots, watching flowers blow in the wind. And then a bird, a big bird, appeared between two trees, soared away off down the bay, came back with a couple of friends. They spiralled across the water, almost at my feet for a long while.

At first, I thought they were young eagles. But the wings weren't right.

Turkey vulture. The head is small, because it lacks feathers. When the light was right, I could see that it was red. And the wings are turkey vulture wings.

The wing itself is dark, but the flight feathers are pale. Against the bright sky, the light shines through them.

The red head is visible here. The bill is white, and hooked.

Later, while we had lunch on the rock, the birds joined the flock at the mouth of the bay. Too far away for photos, but I took a few anyhow; couldn't resist. And when I examined those photos at home, I discovered the imposters.

6 vultures here. But if you look closely (Click for a full-size photo), you'll discover three double-winged fliers joining the flock. Dragonflies!

Distances are deceptive; the dragonflies were probably just at the edge of our cliff.

(The trail hasn't beaten me; I'll tackle it another day, more slowly. There's no reason I have to go end to end without stopping to rest, is there?)

Another Skywatch post.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


Today I hiked the Ripple Rock trail. Made it over half way, then rested at Viewpoint 1.

Menzies Bay, from Ripple Rock trail viewpoint, high on a rocky cliff.

More photos and story, later. I'm taking my aching muscles to bed.

A Skywatch post.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Rest area

Big Tree, the sign says. A place to park for a moment, to stretch my legs, to look over the side of the bridge...

Big Tree Creek. A small creek, but very noisy.

Dropping steeply, through a narrow channel.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017


This month, the ditches along the highway going north from Campbell River are full, carpeted in green, yellow, and white. The yellow, unfortunately, is the horribly invasive Scotch broom; the white is cow-parsnip, which belongs here.

Common cow-parsnip, Heracleum maximum, aka H. lanatum.

The genus name Heracleum (from "Hercules") refers to the very large size of all parts of these plants. (Wikipedia)

The flower umbels are usually flat-topped, the leaves large and divided into 3 toothy segments.

I have some difficulty distinguishing the smaller members of the carrot family, such as Queen Anne's lace, Angelica, etc., all with similar flowers and small leaves, but usually growing in different environments. Cow-parsnip is like them, but the leaves are large to huge, coarse, with a swollen base to the stalk. The plant can be anywhere from 1 to 3 metres tall, taller where the ground is damper. It grows on stream banks, in wet ditches, water meadows. And alongside roads in this damp climate.

To the casual observer, many members of the parsley family (Apiaceae) look similar. Many have white umbels of flowers and dissected leaves. Close inspection, however, shows noticeable differences in leaf shape (amount of dissection), flower (umbel) size, and habitat preferences. When identifying species in this family, habitat should be the first separator (wet or dry sites). In southwestern BC, cow parsnip is most easily confused with smaller plants of giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), but may be separated from that species by its generally smaller size, leaf shape (it sports 3 distinct leaflets), and fruit shape. It may also be mistaken for poison hemlock (Conium maculatum). However, poison hemlock is generally much smaller than giant hogweed, with fern-like leaves and smaller flower umbels. Cow parsnip may also be mistaken for other wet-loving members of the Apiaceae, so care should be taken in the identification. (E-Flora BC)

The young stems are edible: coastal peoples peeled them and ate them raw or boiled. It was important to peel them; the leaves and the outer peel of the stems contain furanocoumarins, which can cause skin irritation and blisters on sunny days. (It needs the combination: exposure to the poison, plus ultraviolet light.)

Flower head, from above, with assorted flies.

Either there are no furanocoumarins on the flowers, or the flies aren't bothered by them.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Stars underfoot

The coastal forests at this time of year are sprinkled with white flowers.

Starflower, Trientalis latifolia.

These perennials may have from 5 to 9 petals. The name originated because the flower stalks are so fine that the flowers seem to be floating in the air above the plant.

Such glossy leaves! Western lily of the valley, Maianthemum dilatatum.

The flower stalks stand above the layer of leaves, one per pair of leaves.

Prickly! Our native blackberry, with Oregon grape leaves.

The Oregon grape spines are hard and sharp. The blackberry's spines are soft, insidious. They don't pierce a glove (Oregon grape does), but can embed themselves in bare skin.
Trailing blackberry, a native. Rubus ursinus. Male and female flowers are on different plants, the male flowers slightly bigger, sharper-petalled.

Thimbleberry. Not a ground-dweller. The shrub grows up to 2.5 metres tall. Rubus parviflorus.

All the thimbleberry flowers I looked at near Lake Roberts were hosting a collection of bugs, mostly tiny brown beetles.

Yummy pollen! The beetles look like tiny rove beetles; their jackets leave the last half of the abdomen bare.

Also seen; foam flowers, vanilla leaf, chickweed, all white, all blowing in the wind.