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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Flowering Plants

Despite recent weather reports to the contrary, most afternoons this week the clouds have parted and we've had wonderful sunshine for springtime walks. While there have been some good bird sightings - a snow goose still hanging out at British Camp and my first-ever band-tailed pigeon sighting on the island come to mind - the wildflowers have taken the cake when it comes to capturing my attention.

This first flower is known as fairyslipper and is a member of the orchid family. I was stunned to find such an intricate, beautiful flower right on the forest floor! Interestingly enough there are no apparent leaves associated with the flower this time of year, so you just see the thin stalk coming straight up out of the ground. I guess there is an underground stem called a corm that is associated with the flower, and a single leaf sprouts from it in the fall and persists through the winter. In the spring, all you see is the flower! Most of these flowers are popping up in the shade of the Douglas fir forests, but I found this one in a patch of sunshine which made for a great photographic opportunity:

While single flowers like the fairyslipper above can be captivating, I'm always impressed by fields of flowers in bloom. I tried taking a lower angle on this shot to capture what it was like to sit among this field fo buttercups:

Given another week the common camas that were still closed up on our Yellow Island trip last weekend have now opened up into beautiful blue flowers:

It's not just the wildflowers that are in bloom, either. I had to take a close look at the leaves of this tree to confirm I really was looking at a big leaf maple. With the abundant sprigs of flowers dangling from all its branches I hardly recogized the maple that is so distinct the rest of the year:

And finally, in a moist depression at British Camp that was empty on my last visit, thousands of horsetails have popped up:


Unknown said...

Sheer variety of flowers you have compiled in this post is incredible.

Max said...

It's great to see that you became a COASST volunteer. I heard that the the San Juans' beaches have fewer beached birds than ours, at least you have more orcas.

Monika said...

T and S - Thanks, I've certainly been amazed at the variety and abundance all around me!

Max - Very true! I'm excited to be involved. Thanks for introducing me to it.