Clouds and Plants on Harbor Mountain Trail

11 September 2021 0 By Bambam

Mostly cloudy, minimal wind, and little rain.

This afternoon I went up Harbor Mountain to look for young Arrowleaf Senecio Senecio triangularis and American saw-wort (Saussurea americana).

Clouds were hanging around the level of the trail, so at times I was below and other times I was in them.

There was noticeably less snow than on Saturday in the section through the small hemlocks at the top of the bowl. I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising, but it’s not always easy to imagine how the snow will melt. That was the last patch of snow on the trail until between the forest sidehill section and where the trail leaves the ridgeline to go south of the summits. There was also a bit of snow on the talus fields. I suspect there was some between there and the shelter, though I couldn’t see that far due to the clouds.

It’s always interesting to get a sense of going back in time as I go uphill this time of year. There were still lots of fern-leaf goldthread (Coptis aspleniifolia) and early blueberries blooming, and many plants were just starting to come up.

I was a little surprised at how many Siberian anemones (Anemonastrum sibiricum) were blooming along a section of the trail where none were blooming on Saturday. They came out fast.

Some of the plants that were further along in places (presumably where snow was off earlier) looked a little beatdown by recent rains. I suspect a lot more of them will look that way if the forecast for heavy rain this week bears out.

I did find the plants I was looking for. They are quite similar without flowers, but they did look distinct to me. I noticed three things that contributed, leaf margins, fuzziness on the underside of leaves, and the venation pattern of the leaves. There seemed to be some variability on each of these in the few plants I was able to look at (in particular, different leaves on the same plant could look a bit different), but overall they seemed to differentiate the plants reasonably well. Of course this assumes I have things right in the first place. It will probably be a good idea to revisit these when they are blooming in July to see if my thoughts hold up.

Before heading home, I drove over to Japonski. I didn’t see any gulls in the channel, but I did notice a flicker working the grass near the edge of the sidewalk when I turned onto the road to SEARHC. I was on the wrong side to stop and take a picture. By the time I got turned around and came back, there were three flickers. As I drove up, it looked like one was feeding another. I don’t think they were bothered cars acting normal, but two flew off when I stopped and had my camera out. I think the one remaining was a juvenile bird, not yet wise enough to be wary.

There was the best mix of moths yet on the porch this morning, though only one or two new species. American Angle Shades (Euplexia benesimilis) and maybe a Xanthorhoe defensaria (I called it that anyway, but Xanthrohoe ID can be difficult).

My iNaturalist Observations for Today

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