Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Jackson Bottom Wetlands

Tualatin river.
We went for a ramble at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve.  We noticed a bunch of new tiny ponds have been dug near the visitor center, which are sure to be the kinds of vernal pools Pacific chorus frogs love in the spring. Wetlands are usually a great place to check out in the late fall and winter because they are magnets for interesting migratory waterfowl. We were surprised to find Jackson Bottom seemed even drier than the last time we visited, in late summer. The water level in the river was higher, but not the wetlands themselves. But Jasper felt that catching an especially beautiful garter snake more than made up for it.  Things will surely improve there for the birds as the rains return in earnest this winter. 
Rose hips.
The dry "wetlands".
Chicory and snowberries.
Witch's butter.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Nella Chestnut Farm

We met Jasper's aunt and uncle at Nella Chestnut Farm in Hood River for the annual Chestnut Festival.  Hood River is famous for its fruit orchards, especially apples and pears.  In the late fall, even after the fruit is gone, the Hood River orchards are quite lovely. And the chestnuts provide an excuse to head out to Hood River even in November.  All weekend they operate a chestnut roaster, and you can come sample this heavenly snack, purchase chestnuts, and try placing a freshly roasted and peeled chestnut in a glass of red wine from Hood River Vinyards.  The festival, wine and chestnuts are free.  Fresh unroasted chestnuts can be purchased by the pound. I'm always finding gorgeous fall leaves and bringing them home, but autumn leaves are so ephemeral. Chestnuts let the taste and scent of autumn linger a little longer.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Eagle Creek

Eagle Creek in the Columbia River Gorge is a wonderful place to witness the fall salmon migration. We visited last month and found water levels dramatically low.  We stopped by again and found that rains have improved water levels quite a bit, and the salmon have much less of a struggle now to get upstream.  Their numbers still seem less than in previous years.  We spied salmon eggs in the water, and an American dipper bobbing in and out of the water while snacking on them.  At the end of the footbridge near the trailhead is a tree completely perforated with tiny holes.  This time we caught the culprit red-handed- a red-breasted sapsucker.

Red-breasted sapsucker.
American dipper.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Liahona Loop Trail

I read that the Liahona Loop Trail in Columbia County's Camp Wilkerson County Park is especially good for leaf peeping in the fall. We found it lovely indeed but far more remarkable for the amazing mushrooms than the leaves. The mushrooms were quite varied and gorgeous. This trail is shared by hikers and equestrians, so we were glad we wore hiking boots when we found parts of it quite muddy. There is a $5 parking fee, so exact change is needed at the entrance pay station.

Monday, November 9, 2015

OMS Mushroom Show

The Oregon Mycological Society has an annual fall mushroom show that we love.  The centerpiece of the show is a huge collection of mushrooms freshly gathered, naturalistically displayed, and carefully identified. There are mushroom growing kits for sale and many books and mushroom crafts. This year they had really inexpensive oyster and shiitake growing kits, which are always easy and fun for kids. You can see common edibles contrasted with mushrooms that are not edible or  toxic, and consult experts to identify samples if you want to know what's growing in your yard.  A big display shows yarn dyed a dazzling array of colors with mushroom based dye, and some lovely things knitted with mushroom dyed yarn.  Scrumptious mushroom dumpling soup was being served up.  I always get excited when spring comes and wildflowers of every shape, color and size begin to bloom.  But this show serves as a reminder that what fall has to offer when the mushrooms sprout is no less spectacular. 

The Oregon Mycological Society is a terrific resource for mushroom fans.  Memberships are quite affordable, and give members the opportunity to participate in special guided foraging trips in the fall and spring, citizen science survey opportunities, and mycology camps, as well as many chances to learn about any aspect of fungi in depth from experts. They meet monthly at the World Forestry Center, and meetings are free and open to the public. They often have really cool guest speakers.