Page 12 - Nature Lovers

As nature lovers, we like nothing better than to enjoy what each season brings us in our lovely area of the Cascades.  

After ski season ends each spring and the snow melts, we love watching the fresh green leaves emerge along with the lovely blooms of Indian Plum, Red Osier Dogwood, Red-Flowering Currants, Salmonbery,  Trillium,  Hooker's Fairybells, Twisted Stalk,  Bunchberry Dogwood, Columbine, and Lupine.   As spring establishes itself, the Rufous Hummingbirds come to our feeders by the dozens to joust for territory and mates and provide a terrific show!     Other favorite spring visitors are the breeding Harlequin Ducks and Common Mergansers, who come two by two.   My favorite time is mid-spring when the Pacific Chorus Frogs are calling.   It's magical!

As spring gives way to summer, mama Harlequins, Mergansers and Wood Ducks pass downstream with their chicks, and the warblers, tanagers, flycatchers and other summer visitors reappear.    Our morning walks become an adventure since you never know what you'll see.    The Nighthawks return around the first of June, and Vaux Swifts reestablish their nests in our chimney, and we begin to see Red-breasted Sapsuckers, Belted Kingfishers, Spotted Sandpipers, Ospreys, and the other summer-time regulars.  Daisys and  Forget-Me-Nots cover the river bank, the twinflower ripens, and ripe wild strawberries and trailing blackberries can be found.     There's nothing nicer than sitting by a campfire on the river bank right at dusk, listening to the nighthawks chirp overhead, the Swainson's Thrushes, and watching the bats skim over the river's surface as we wait for the stars to come out.

As summer turns to fall and river drops lower and lower, the vine maple and huckleberry leaves turn red, livening the view across the river and on Beckler Peak.    As the summer resident birds begin to move south, we look forward to fall visitors.  Usually a few immature Cooper's Hawks show up at our birdfeeders hoping for a meal of Steller's Jay, and provide a weekend's entertainment as they chase the jays round and around the trees, usually without much success.    Once the leaves drop and the fall rains begin, our focus shifts to the fall crop of wild mushrooms, with Chantrelles, Shaggy Manes, and Oyster mushrooms among the most common local edibles found on the trails off Highway 2 and the various logging roads nearby.

By Thanksgiving, the fall rains have swollen the river again, bringing the coho salmon to spawn in front of our cabin and Bald Eagles looking for salmon, just as the snow begins to reappear on Beckler Peak.   Several times a Hooded Merganser pair has shown up in early November to loll about our stream.      And if you time it right, from our hot tub you can watch the coho defending their nests during their last days while the Dippers (Water Ouzels) dive for their eggs like so many pearl divers.    After the winter snows arrive, only the tougher residents remain (the Douglas and Northern Flying Squirrels, the Raccoons and, of course, Steller's Jays, Oregoin Juncos, Spotted Towhees, Song Sparrows, Varied Thrushes, and the ever-present Dippers.      However, the winter is when we've seen raccoon, deer and otters on the island in front of our cabin, so keep a sharp lookout!
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