Sunday, April 20, 2008

The lupines were beautiful

Yes we made it back to Brigeport in time to see the lupines in full bloom. They were beautiful.

(Well, I like blue better than orange, so I like them better than the poppies. When I first moved here, I used to fall asleep reading the Western Garden Book every night, and I memorized all the blue flowers. And I learned to store that book not in the bedroom with its light blue rug, so when I needed to look up how to plant something, and came tromping in with muddy boots, I wouldn't get red mud all over the rug.)

Unfortunately, by a stupid mistake trying to reset my camera, which had gotten changed to smaller sized images, I lost lots of the pictures i had taken. Don't count your photos...

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Don't count your bridges...

Before they're hatched? Well, before you cross them. Last week we did not make it to Bridgeport for a walk, since one of us was ill.

The weather has stayed cool, but without storms. But it has warmed 20°F since two days ago, and is supposed to be sunny and warm this weekend. So maybe the flowers haven't gone by yet, but they will be beginning to go in this warmth.

It's only superstition, of course... but every time I try to run into the grocery store and catch the bus on its way back, and I say "I'll catch you on your return", I miss it. Every time. And those are almost the only times I've missed it. When I say "If I'm lucky I'll catch you" I make it.

So, as Grandpa used to say "God willing and the creek don't rise", we'll get to Bridgeport for a walk and some photos tomorrow.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Going for walks at Bridgeport 1

For the last month I have been going for walks on the wildflower trail at Bridgeport with friends. Well, 2 out of the four weeks - the others it has been raining. The wildflowers had started the first time, poppies and brodaieas. And the redbuds were in bloom. The second time, 2 weeks ago, the poppies were in full bloom, the lupines were just starting, and the shooting stars (Dodecathon) had their last few flowers. And I saw my first pipevine.

Two years ago, when I was there with a walking class, and taking more pictures than getting exercise, I got some good pictures of the Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies. I didn't know what they were - and when I tried looking in a butterfly key at the college, I thought I never would. Hundreds of butterflies looking all alike, and none like the ones I'd photographed.

We meet friendly people on the trail. Last time we saw a rattlesnake, moving rapidly up a steep slope, being guarded by a couple of walkers until it was out of harm's way.

This week the lupines should be in full bloom. And the river is always beautiful.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008


This charming little bird was taking a dustbath next to the bus-stop when I left work this evening. Then he returned to sit on this rock, and then joined his mate to hop around briefly on the ground. This is the first day that there have been any birds besides blackbirds and ravens in the parking lot. Yesterday one of the ravens was making that molasses-gurgling-out-of-a-jug noise - an unexpected sound coming from such a source.

Yesterday morning (Apr 2nd) I heard the first song of the mountain chickadee for this spring. It's a distinctive three-note call that I'm told is supposed to sound like "cheeseburger". For about 20 years I whistled ineptly back at the unknown bird who was making the call, hoping to get him to come closer. I could hear them coming closer towards me sometimes, but I never saw who made that call. (I even ran after someone whistling it, when I worked in the nursery. "What 's that bird?!" He didn't know. He had been taught it by a friend. They used it to keep in touch when out in the woods.)

Since I only heard it in spring & summer, I assumed the bird was a migrant. Then one of my book-club friends (young wilderness professionals, mostly) identified the bird as a mountain chickadee. She explained that they live in old-growth forests, where they can shelter in the deep cracks in the bark of the mature trees. They are not supposed to live at this low an elevation. (2500ft)

I had seen chickadees here, without knowing they were my mystery birds. My early attempts to begin to identify birds were discouraged when they seemed to look like pictures of the mountain chickadee, which could not be here...

They don't migrate, but overwinter. And of course they make their distinctive call only in spring & summer because it is a breeding-season territorial call. I should not have been disturbing the birds by whistlingly back at them all these years...

And what is it doing here? Well, there is a line of trees that was left as a property-line division when the whole county was logged off to feed the mines. Oaks and ponderosa pines. They were mature when my grandfather bought both parcels and built in 1917. They were the only mature trees when my mother was a child. Now there are others as large. And the chickadees might be a relict population since then, maybe?

Maybe someday I'll find out what this little bird is, or the one with the bright yellow breast, who was up in the tree.

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