Sunday, April 24, 2016

Cooper Mountain

Cooper Mountain Nature Park is especially lovely in the spring.  Much of the park is oak savannah, sunny meadows with short Oregon white oak and Pacific madrone trees.  The Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest employed controlled burns, which created better habitat for plants they foraged. Deer and elk would graze on the grasses that grew there, which made it easier for humans to hunt and for wildflowers to flourish. After European diseases and genocide overtook the Native people, this habitat began to disappear as Douglas firs creeped in.  With their height advantage, they outcompete oaks and madrones and create far more shade.  With the decline of oak savannahs, whole ecosystems began to disappear.  Cooper Mountain is home to some rare wildflowers, including golden paintbrush and white rock larkspur. Metro is attempting to maintain the oak savannah from encroaching trees and grasses using experiments with controlled burns and cattle grazing.  We went there to see what was blooming.  The rarest wildflowers were yet to come, but there were many lovely flowers, including hound's tongue, which I see nowhere else.  We also couldn't resist peering into the pond, and found lots of tadpoles, salamander larvae, snails and their eggs, and garter snakes.

When we arrived, a beekeeper was busy collecting a wild swarm of
honey bees in the parking lot.
Star-formed false Solomon's seal.
Fawn lily.
Chocolate lily.
Oregon iris.
Praire star.
Cooper's hawk(?). 
Listening at a listening tube.
Red flowering currant.
Aquatic snail eggs?
Salamander larva, possibly rough skinned newt?
If you look closely, you will see two salamander larvae, one tadpole
and a snail egg mass.
Long-toed salamander egg mass.
Tadpole (Pacific chorus frog?).
A dancing aquatic snail.
Upside down.
Garter snake.
Garter snake.
Monkey flower.
Hound's tongue.
Hound's tongue.
Hound's tongue.

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