Friday, July 8, 2011

Au Sable Institute and Cornet Bay


I had been working long hours and Edward had been job hunting and we were both weary of it all and decided to take Friday morning (June 3) off and do a bit of hiking.  It turned into a beautiful sunny day as we drove to Whidbey Island to visit two of our favorite spots there.

We went first to the Pacific Rim Campus of the Au Sable Institute just south of Coupeville and took a walk through their woods looking for orchids in bloom.  This is one of the few known locations of the Ozette Coralroot, a rare variety of the Spotted Coralroot found only in Washington State.


Walking through the woods we found a few Fairy Slippers still in bloom and many plants of the Western Spotted Coralroot (Corallorhiza maculata var. occidentalis), some of them in large clumps.  We found both the brown stemmed and the red-stemmed forms of the plant.


We also found a few that seemed to be intermediate between the Western Spotted and the Ozette, but perhaps they only represent more of the variation within this species.  In any case, I had never seen so many of them in one location and never so many in this location.  They were everywhere.


We found the Ozette Coralroot (Corallorhiza maculata var. ozettensis), too, but not as many as previous years.  Nor were they in bloom, but have several weeks to go before they bloom.  We've seen them in full bloom in early June, but this year everything is late due to a long spell of cold rainy weather.

Finished at Au Sable, we went back to the north end of Whidbey Island and the area of Deception Pass State Park.  We visited the part of the park that borders the south side of Cornet Bay and hiked the area around Hoypus Hill, looking for the Western Coralroot (C. mertensiana).

We found them in their usual haunts but they, too, were just beginning to bloom.  We took some pictures, but will have to go back when they are at their peak.  They are also very late this year as a result of the weather.  It was obvious though that both the purple and yellow-stemmed varieties were present.



We managed to get pictures also a small blue butterfly and of a Fox Sparrow, but there was little else to photograph and toward the end of the morning we were lost a bit on the winding trails and were trying to find our way rather than thinking about pictures.


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