There are lots of wonderful things happening in April! Spring is really bursting out at the seams. When it rains, be sure to look for those bursts of sunshine to see why it's alternatively called "rainbow season" here in Portland. The magnolias at Hoyt Arboretum will be reaching their peak, and are a short stroll from the visitor's center. Be sure to learn a bit about this interesting and ancient species. Camas flowers will also be reaching their peak, turning the places they grow into fields of blue. Several places that are known to be good spots to see them are Camassia Natural Area in West Linn, Bridal Veil Loop in the Columbia River Gorge, and Lacamas Lake Park in Camas, WA. (Where else do you like to see camas flowers? Please share in the comments!) The bulbs of this plant were once a very important food staple for the Native Americans. Because the trees are just beginning to leaf out, it's our last chance in early April to get an unobstructed view of many bird nests. Great Blue Heron rookeries are among the most impressive. The huge nests can number in the hundreds, and often get reused for many years. Some places that have been good for spotting nesting herons in the past are the Molalla River State Park in Canby (which has boasted one of the largest in the entire Willamette Valley), Clackamette Park in Oregon City (which has provided good views of a rookery on Goat Island), and Sauvie Island. If you are heading NE on Reeder Rd. a rookery will be just past mile marker 6, on your left, across the street from a mobile home park. There is a turnoff, but the rookery is on private property so don't be tempted to stroll over to it. (If anyone has any other tips for finding heron rookeries, please share!). The first Arbor Day in the US began in April, and in Portland there are many opportunities for tree appreciation this month. But it's not a busy month for planting trees since the rains are tapering off. Friends of Trees do still have a few planting events on their calendar. Earth Day on April 22 inspires many to help protect Mother Nature through service projects. A great place to find volunteer events is through SOLVE. You can also help Mother Earth by volunteering for citizen science projects, which give scientists vital information that they need for important studies. There's a huge database of them on http://scistarter.com/.
“Gem Faire”, Friday, April 11, 12PM-6PM, Saturday, April 12, 10AM-6PM, and Sunday, April 13, 10AM-5PM, Washington County Fairgrounds, Hillsboro. $7 weekend pass for adults, free for kids 11 and under, 2 for 1 coupon on their website: http://www.gemfaire.com/locations/index.php?location=274 This is a paradise for beads but also a good place for rockhounds to find crystals and fossils. One of our favorite vendors is a very nice man who sells only opals and has some really nice little ones that kids love.