Monday, May 21, 2012

Spring in Washington Park

On Friday, April 20th, my wife and I took the afternoon and evening off and went to Washington Park on Fidalgo Island near Anacortes.  The park is about an hour and a half drive from home, but one of our favorite places for wildflowers and native orchids.  It is a rocky peninsula of over 200 acres on the northwest end of Fidalgo Island.  There is a 2.2 mile, one-lane road around the island which we always walk, but the main attraction is the network of trails which follow the cliffs around the west and south sides of the peninsula.  The park is a city park and heavily used, but a wonderful place for wildflowers including four species of native orchids.  We went to see the Fairy Slippers (Calypso bulbosa), Few-flowered Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon pulchellum) and Oregon Fawn Lilies (Erythornium oregonum) especially.

Western Fairy Slipper

Few-flowered Shooting Star

Oregon Fawn Lily.

We had expected that the Fairy Slippers, Shooting Stars and Fawn Lilies would be just starting to bloom because of our cold and wet spring, but they were at their peak, the Fawn Lilies even past their peak.  The Shooting Stars were amazing, as always, with thousands of them blooming on the north side of the island where the cliffs descend to the sea and where they almost certainly are soaked in seawater on a stormy day.  Along with them we found Sea Grape, Sea Blush, Monkey Flowers, Prairie Stars, Blue-eyed Mary and Spring Gold all in full bloom, with the Common Camas and Death Camas just beginning to bloom.  We hiked the road and the trails and spent about four hours taking pictures not only of the wildflowers, but of the Madrone trees, the cliffs, the fungi and even a slug or two or three.  All in all it was a beautiful and relaxing evening.

Prairie Star

Spring Gold

Seep-spring Monkey Flower

Dwarf Oregon-grape

Sea Blush and Early Saxifrage

On May 3rd we were back again, this time for a shorter visit.  We had gone to see the Striped Coralroots (Coralorrhiza striata) which were blooming in Larrabee State Park and went on later in the day to this park.  It had been raining all day but we wanted to look for a pure white Fairy Slipper (Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis, fma. nivea) which had been reported from the park.  We found to our dismay that someone had picked nearly all the Fairy Slippers, a real tragedy, because picking the flowers often destroys the very fragile plant.  We found not only the white Fairy Slipper, but the Western Coralroots starting to bloom, and a few or the pink Fairy Slippers which had been missed.  We also saw and photographed a pair of Harlequin Ducks which were feeding along the shore near Greenpoint.  We finally gave up, though, on account of the rain.

White Western Fairy Slipper

Harlequin Ducks

Western Fairy Slipper

Checker Lily

Western Coralroot

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