Saturday, December 10, 2011

Trees...really big ones

Follow up from last posting. Terry Richard wrote a story in the Oregonian about the tallest pine tree (ponderosa, that is) in the world recently discovered/measured in Oregon. It was 268.35 feet! The largest ponderosa pine in Montana (mere 200 feet tall) is found along Fish Creek at Big Pine Fishing Access Site, about 40 miles west of Missoula, Montana. Here's a photo of it and interpretive signage:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Three days ago visited Lolo Creek Campground, west of Lolo, Montana by 16 miles. Target for field trip was to discover/photograph lichen species or a serendipitous encounter with other 'wildlife'.

Within minutes of leaving car and approaching creek bridge encountered group of chickadees in creekside shrubbery. Several were chesnut-backed (Poecile rufescens):
Forested hillside

They were vocalizing quite a bit, sounding like this (credit xeno-canto webpage and Tayler Brooks):

Also in the shrubs were Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) making their harsh call notes (credit xeno-canto and Chris Parrish):
After observing the chickadees and jays to satisfaction, made it across bridge/creek into the campground proper. Trees here are impressive, have never really looked at or identified them properly. Here are trunk photos of all:
Douglas Fir
Lodgepole Pine
Engelmann Spruce
Subalpine Fir
Western Larch

Looking at tree trunks is also profitable for finding lichens; here is a photo of 'lattice tube lichen' (Hypogymnia occidentalis):
Positioned near a rivulet attracted another member of this community, gray jay (Perisoreus canadensis). Quite stealthy in approach usually:
Go out and make your own is great fun!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Discovery and Happiness...

"'The good life,' in other words, may be better lived by doing things than by having things" (Gilovich and Van Boven 2003). Their research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found folks were 'happier' doing things than buying things. The authors gave three reasons a) "experiences are more open to positive reinterpretation" b) "experiences are more central to one's identity" and c) "experiences have greater 'social value'."

Andrew Warren, senior collections manager for the University of Florida's McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity had one of the greatest of zoological experiences recently...discovery of a butterfly species new to Florida. In a story from the, Warren relates how a series of collected butterfly specimens from 1950-85 were misidentified in the museum collection; the species involved was the pink-spot sulphur butterfly, a native of Cuba and the Bahamas. After publishing this finding, Warren also mentioned his discovery to Alana Edwards, president of the Atala chapter of the North American Butterfly Association in an attempt to confirm if the butterfly was still alive and well in south Florida. Alana spread the word via Facebook and email. E.J. Haas got the message and sent a photo of an unidentified butterfly from her cultivated butterfly garden to Warren. Response from Warren was: "Oh yes! Most definitely A. neleis!!!!!!...they are a current breeding resident- these photos confirm it!!! WOW! Many thanks, and congratulations on your great and extremely important photos!"

So, yes, you too can experience happiness on a regular basis by going outside and discovering/documenting what you find in nature. There is an excellent chance that your local community of: bees, butterflies, dragonflies, lichens, wildflowers, etc. aren't well known. 'We' don't know everything just yet and by the time we do, things will have changed.

Here's my discovery from yesterday at Riverside Park in Lolo, Montana...Cladonia macilenta aka 'lipstick powderhorn'. Go out and find something good.