Saturday, May 21, 2011
After visiting our son in Medical Lake we left early in the morning, May 13th (3:00 am) and headed for Ellensburg and one of our favorite hiking areas, Manastash Ridge. We were not sure how much we would see because of the cold weather and delayed flowering of many plants, but discovered to our delight that there was plenty to see and photograph. In fact, though we had come for the wildflowers, the birds were as much of an attraction as the plants and the scenery was spectacular.
The days was sunny and warm and the birds were everywhere, especially the Mountain Bluebirds. We managed to get some shots of them, one on a nest box, and also of a Winter Wren, a Fox Sparrow and a female Robin with a beak full of nesting material. The Mountain Bluebirds were delightful, singing on every shrub and were very obviously in the middle of courting and mating.
Some of the wildflowers, especially the Bitterroots were not yet in bloom. In fact, we saw no sign of the Bitterrrots which appear almost like magic out of the stony soil of the ridge. We did see, however, many old friends as well as wildflowers that we had not seen before, some of which are shown below. The highlights of the hike were the Bonneville Shooting Stars and the Giant-head Clover.
The Balsamroots were blooming everywhere and we noticed three different species, the Arrowleaf Balsamroot which seemed to prefer the foots of shrubs and trees, the Hairy Balsamroot, which we found only in very rocky open areas, and the Puget Balsamroot, which we found in more grassy but open areas. They all have similar flowers but very different leaves.
In addition to these we saw the Sagebrush Violet, a tiny plant with yellowish-green growths and flowers that I think is a Spurge of some kind but cannot identify further, the Fernleaf Lomatium or Chocolate Tips, Leafy Bluebells, Dagger Pod, Western Groundsel, the Large-flowered Brodiaea, and the Upland Larkspur, the names of which are given in the same order as the pictures.
Leaving Manastash Ridge after hiking the Ray Westbrook Trail up and the Boy Scout trail down, we headed out and were fortunate to see three pelicans coming in to land in a pond near Ellensburg and then fly away again when we disturbed them by getting out of the car to take pictures. They certainly were one of the highlights of the day.
It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, and so we headed to a few other favorite spots in the area of Leavenworth, but that's another post. As for this one let it be noted that the identifications of the birds and flowers are sometimes tentative. If anyone knows better I would very much appreciate the correction. Also, some of the pictures were taken by my wife.