Only one year did the Chocolate Lilies or Fritillaria affinis (formerly F. lanceolata) cover patches of the meadow as thickly as the first photograph shows. Usually they are in groups of two or three, just waiting for someone to discover their quiet, dark elegance in amongst the riot of colour that the rest of the spring flowers explode in. If we had fields annually I'd be tempted to try a very small sampling of the bulblets that are reported to be tender and delicate and somewhat like rice...only a bit bitter.
I haven't been able to find out a whole lot about Adela trigrapha! It has the most elegant long white antenna and the three white bars on the wings; thus both the English name and the specific name. I'd like to find a female as she has a fuzzy orange head! This species is found from California north to southern Vancouver Island.
The banner across the top of this page shows the sweeping "blush" of Plectritis congesta that fills the places beneath and between the fading shooting stars and fawn lilies. The timing usually matches the subtle blue-eyed mary resulting in a clouds of bold pink, underscored with deep blue. Bumble bees and early flies are often found buzzing about sea blush, finding their way to the cluster of flowers that perch like a head atop the single stalk.
Lincoln's Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii) is a small, dapper sparrow that is a passage migrant here at Leaning Oaks. Our records are from 20-25 April and the 15-19 of October, although its likely we have overlooked them at other times since they are secretive sparrows that hide in shrubs. Overall this species has increased on southern Vancouver Island where it is common migrant with increasing numbers also overwintering. There are no documented breeding records for the island, although suitable habitat exists. Leah and I found an agitated male during the summer in Strathcona Provincial Park while we were birding for the Breeding Bird Atlas - which hints that they might be breeding here after all.
A. You are doing what for species a day??
B. You heard me, the daffodils.
A. But is that in the spirit of this exercise?
B. They have naturalized in the meadow, haven't they?
A. Yes....but...just along the edge! And someone planted them.
B. But we didn't; and besides that, did we plant the daphne or Himalayan blackberry or any of the other invasives that have been included here? Have we?
A. No. But these are different.
A. We haven't pulled them out.
A. I suppose they aren't just at the edge....
B. I am doing Narcissus pseudonarcissus
There was a time when many white-flowered plants in the Caryophyllaceae were in a large genus Arenaria, the Sandworts. Nowadays the genus has been split into several genera including Spergularia, Eremogone and Minuartia. This species is in still another genus and is now Moehringia lateriflora - which is considerably more difficult to remember, pronounce - and spell! Blunt-leaved Sandwort grows in both North America and Asia. Here at Leaning Oaks it grows in dry woodland and meadow edge, putting out dainty white five-petalled flowers in April and May. Where ever one travels in B.C. it seems ever present, it grew on my thesis area in the East Kootenays, it grows in the woods along the Tatshenshini River in extreme northwest of the province and in most forests in between.
This orchid is found in the shade of the mossy forest and usually growing singly. Calypso bulbosa is a perennial herb grows from corms and I find them in the same location year after year. We have had visitors that can not believe that this exquisite, sweet smelling orchid is native. Despite being relatively common in a few localities, they should never be picked as that will usually result in the corm dying. According to Pojar and Mackinnon, Haida girls ate small quantities of the apparently buttery tasting corm to increase their busts. Don't do this either.
For us, this species has been strictly a spring and fall migrant, noted from the property as they fly overhead, calling. Our records here span the 1-24 of April and then again in the fall from the 26 Sept-18 Oct. This photo is of just a part of a flock of 682 that passed overhead on Sunday; and just one of 3 flocks I saw that day for a total estimated in excess of 1500 birds. Greater White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons), like many geese and swans, are increasing in numbers, so it is not surprising that this is the highest number recorded at Leaning Oaks
Midway through the spring symphony of colour the delicate Lithophragma parviflorum stands tall, swaying gently and popping out with the palest of pale pink petals that look as though they have been cut out of paper and glued to a central disk. The range is southern BC to California and east to Utah and Colorado where it is found in mesic sites.
Subtle; Collinsia parviflora appears without the bang of the other meadow flowers.....but one day you look down and there are clouds of blue drifting between the grasses and other more brilliant blooms. There is a "large-flowered" version as well that are only a few millimeters larger. More subtleties!
Two biologists on a beautiful property armed with cameras, smart phones and a marginal knowledge of websites took up the challenge of documenting one species a day on that property. Join along! Posts and photographs by Leah Ramsay and David Fraser (unless otherwise stated; started January 1, 2014.