Monday, May 29, 2023

Former Giant Western Red Cedars above Lake Cavanaugh

I have had numerous ventures up the north slope of Frailey Mountain south of Lake Cavanaugh in Skagit County. The slopes are steep and streams on the mountain have had a history of debris flows; hence, I have had numerous ventures assessing the geology risks of the area. 

The forest on the lower sloes is predominantly western hemlock. It is one of the easier forest areas to walk through as there is very little understory brush as the hemlocks shade out just about everything. But amongst the hemlocks are big(!) hints of the past.   

Western red cedar stump amongst the western hemlocks 

Large cedar stump and if you look carefully an even bigger one back in the trees

The western hemlock forest is about 80 years old. The Lake Cavanaugh area was nearly devoid of trees by 1940. There is a small remnant patch of old trees on the steepest upper slopes that were either too hard to log or poor quality timber. 

1941 aerial view of area

The big stumps are a reminder that the forests we see today are not static. Given the age of the forests around Lake Cavanaugh area, there has been significant logging in the area the past few years. As noted in a previous post (HERE), the trees that were left are habitat for marbled murrlets and hence some of the forest is protected. And some of the slopes may be precluded from logging due to potential landslides and debris flow hazards. I say 'may' because that can be a geology judgement call clear cut logging has been permitted on active alluvial fan areas.     

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Colaptes auratus (Northern Flicker) Duel

 I was alerted to the nearby presence of a northern flicker by the drumming on a metal gutter. The bird then swooped past my head and landed on the edge of a plowed area where he confronted another flicker.

The two birds pushed out there chests and faced off for several minutes. Occasionally one would jump upward and the other would respond in kind. 

I do not have a camera that allows for spectacular bird shots, but these were so focused on each other that I was able to witness their activity from about 30 feet and managed a few ok shots while enjoying the drama. What I failed to get was a picture of the nearby female. She was busy poking around for insects behind the dirt clods.  

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Chrysemys picta takes a walk

Approaching a pond in eastern Washington there was a sudden loud splashing. It has been a cold spring, but on this day the sun was warm. The splashing was from turtles jumping into the water upon my approach. 

Turtle heads in the water and one bolder turtle on the shore

While pausing nearby one the the turtles began walking across the grass away from the pond

A bit later I heard rustling and saw the turtle in a patch of bark chips

This turtle kept going across a street and off to parts unknown to me at least

I suspect this turtle is a female and was off to lay eggs some distance from the pond. Painted turtles are common. This particular turtle habitat is clearly not natural with lawn and pavement. But the pond itself is not natural; the pond us part of a broad irrigation system. Prior to the irrigation system there would hev been no turtles within several miles of this location.