Monday, June 7, 2010

Whidbey Island

My wife and I decided to take the afternoon off and about 1:00 headed for Whidbey Island and the Pacific Rim Campus of the Au Sable Institute near Coupeville. We wanted to see the rare Ozette Coralroot (Corallorhiza maculata var. ozettensis) which had been discovered there in 2002, the first location for this plant outside the Olympic Peninsula.

We stopped first at Deception Pass just before the bridge to take pictures of some of the wildflowers there. Some of those we photographed were:

Lanceleaf Stonecrop (Sedum spathulifolium)
Cluster Thistle (Cisium brevistylum)
Broad-leaved Arnica (Arnica latifolia)
Puget Sound Gumplant (Grindelia integrifolia)
Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
South of the town of Oak Harbor a farmer was cutting hay along the road and a number of eagles, both adult and immature, were foraging for rodents in the cut hay. We stopped there for quite a while for pictures. Though common at certain times of the year, the Bald Eagle is always worth stopping for. Some of the eagles were being harassed and chased by the blackbirds that were also foraging in the cut hay.

Arriving finally on the grounds of the Au Sable Institute, we started into the woods near an old barn and found a group of students from the Institute with two of their instructors. They had been examining a Barn Owl nest with several chicks and invited us to have a look.

In the woods we found what we were looking for, the Ozette Coralroot. The Western Coralroots, which had been in bloom a few weeks before were nearly finished, but the Ozettes were in full bloom.

In and along the edge of the woods we photographed several other wildflowers, the dainty sprays of the Smooth Alumroot (Heuchera glabra) and the Coast Tarweed (Madia sativa).

After stopping in Mount Vernon for our evening meal we arrived home thankful for a relaxing and enjoyable afternoon.

(1) There is a brief article that I've written about the Ozette Coralroot on the website of the American Orchid Society:
(2) I almost certainly have misidentified some of the wildflowers. Anyone who knows better is asked to drop me a note correcting my mistakes.
(3) The picture of the Deception Pass bridge was taken by my daughter-in-law and the picture of the owl was taken by my wife.

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