RAMBLING THROUGH the MONTH of MAY

We’re mid-way through May and already, trees are thick with leaves, dandelions have gone to seed, and rainbows of flowers vie for our attention. I’ve been rambling through local parks with my camera, photographing wildflowers, sea-and-sky horizons, and anything else that catches my eye. Last week we drove east for an hour to visit a state park that features a different type of ecosystem than ours. We don’t have Dogwood trees here but they were in full flower there. The forest floor displayed a soft, green carpet of Vanilla leaf plants. Their oddly toothed, tripartite leaves and candle-like flower wands always delight me.

Deception Pass State Park reopened recently to a flood of visitors. We got there early that first morning, ahead of the crowds. What a pleasure it was to walk across the wide beaches on a minus tide (minus tides are lower than mean low water and usually occur at a new or full moon). On a rocky cliff we found violet-blue larkspurs dancing in the breeze with the pure white flowers of Field chickweed. Two days later I went up to Goose Rock, also part of Deception Pass, and found more Spring wildflowers blooming on the sunny bluffs.

Harbor porpoises and seals have been in evidence, though I never can get them “on film.” There was a weasel in the yard – the first either of us had ever seen – and on the same day a Barred owl was being attacked by angry Robins. The Black-headed grosbeaks have returned after wintering in Mexico. They’re a delight, settling in at the seed and suet feeders for leisurely meals and whistling their cheerful songs from branches overhead. Insects are busy everywhere, pollinating flowers and devouring leaves. Slugs, are busy too – I’ve lost one tender plant to them already. Through rainy days and sunny days, life has a firm grip on every inch of the outdoors. I’m grateful for every minute that I can revel in it.

I could go on and on about the marvelous month of May but let the photographs tell the story. They were all made between the 1st and 17th of May, 2020.

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1. A Pacific dogwood blossom (Cornus nuttalii).

2. The forest is awash in a hundred kinds of green. Ferns, mosses, leaves, lichens, liverworts, flowers – they all play parts in a grand scheme that’s far bigger than our understanding of it. This scene is at Rockport State Park.
3. A Red Huckleberry twig (Vaccinium parvifolium) adorned with tiny flowers is reaching for the light. The flowers will morph into berries over the summer, providing food for small mammals and birds.
4. The Olympic Mountains, partly obscured by clouds, seen from Sares Head, Fidalgo Island.

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7. Ferns are unfolding everywhere – this one is a Sword fern (Polystichum munitum), by far the most common fern around here.
8. Decatur Island, seen from Washington Park on Fidalgo Island. Decatur can’t be accessed by bridge or ferry and if you want to fly in or dock your boat here, you’ll have to get permission from the community first. There are no stores on the island so you’ll need to come prepared…or be lucky enough to be visiting one of fewer than 100 residents.
9. Like sapphires in the rough, Menzies’ larkspur (Delphinium menziesii) and Field chickweed cascade down the grassy edge of a steep cliff at Lighthouse Point. Deception Pass State Park.
10. Early this month there were still a few Fawn lilies (Erythronium oreganum) blooming here and there on the island. I’m sorry to see them go.

11. This handsome, chunky moth appeared at our kitchen window while I was putting this post together. The wingspan is 2 – over 3 inches! A Western Washington University moth website helped me identify it as a Bedstraw hawkmoth, aka Gallium sphinx moth (Hyles gallii). It ranges across the globe in northern latitudes, preferring coniferous forests. In our region it feeds on Fireweed species (Epilobium).
12. Last year’s cattails still tower above this year’s tender green shoots in a wetland at Deception Pass State Park, which reopened for hiking on May 5th.

13. The American robin (Turdus migratorius) is as common as a dandelion, but all the same, it’s a handsome bird. This one perched on a post on the morning Deception Pass opened up. For about 7 weeks, wildlife had the park to itself. I regret any disturbance we humans caused when we returned.

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15. Small-flowered alumroot (Heuchera micrantha) is just beginning to flower.
16. Yesterday I put my camera inside this lovely haze of alumroot flowers.

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17. False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosum) doesn’t look like false anything to me; it looks like true beauty. A wildflower of moist, rich woods, it’s uncommon on Fidalgo Island, if it occurs at all. I saw this one at Rockport State Park. Most of the park is under 1000′ elevation and is situated beside a river at the base of a mountain, where fog is frequent, water from streams is abundant, and the soil is rich.

18. The zig-zag stalk of a Clasping twisted stalk (Streptopus amplexifolius), also at Rockport State Park. This interesting wildflower, with small, bell-like flowers held under the leaves, ranges across Canada, the northern US, eastern Asia, eastern Russia and southern Europe.
19. Curious? Here you go – the hidden flowers of Clasping twisted stalk.

20. Tall Western hemlocks, Douglas firs and Western redcedars at Rockport State Park often are covered in moss and lichens. This one has enough moss to fill a railroad car. OK, I made that up.
21. Delicate Lace lichen (Ramalina menziesii) enjoys the moist air near the shoreline at Deception Pass. It may look like the Spanish moss that grows on southern trees, but it’s a lichen. Lichens are symbiotic unions of fungi and algae. Some lichens are very sensitive to pollution. Just looking at the structure of Lace lichen makes it easy to see how particles of pollution can be caught in the strands. The abundance of this lichen tells me the air is clean here.

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23. Last year’s dried fronds dangle in front of the new, lime green leaves of a Maidenhair fern (Adantium pedatum) one of my favorite plants. At home among consistently moist rocks, few Maidenhair ferns thrive on Fidalgo Island. I’ve only found two small colonies of them so far.
24. A close-up of a Maidenhair fern.

25. An old branch rests on a bed of Reindeer lichen at Washington Park. In late winter and early Spring, Reindeer lichen responds to abundant moisture with soft pillows of new growth in very small increments. Summer is very dry here and the lichen is quite brittle and easily damaged then.



26. I was excited to see this flock of Whimbrels (Numenius phaeopus) at West Beach, Deception Pass, recently. They were hunted for food and sport until hunting migratory birds was outlawed in 1918, and hunting may still occur on their wintering grounds. Plus, they face habitat loss. These individuals may have wintered in California and are probably on their way to breeding grounds in Alaska.
27.

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Photos #3, 7, 21, 22, & 23 were made with a vintage Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 lens (plus adapter). Photos #2 & 6b were made with a Motorola phone. Most of the other photos were made with an Olympus Zuiko 60mm f2.8 macro lens. It’s advertised as a macro but it’s my favorite walk-around lens. On my OM-D EM-1 camera, it’s the rough equivalent of a 120mm lens on a full frame camera. The last photo was made with an Olympus Zuiko ED 14-150mm f4-5.6 zoom lens.


64 comments

  1. A fine set of offerings. I’m particularly fond of #12 and #25–and I’d love to see 25 with more saturation and more emphasis on the darker tones in its lower half–but that’s just me.

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    • Thanks, Gary. I was going for a pale look for #25 and the perspective was a little off, probably because I didn’t take the time to hold the camera level. I can see your point. I appreciate your interest. πŸ™‚

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  2. Pure beauty, Lynn! A world of wonder πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I was pleased to know the name of the Shore pines, as we have them here too. Best of all I love your hazy shots. So full of atmosphere.

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    • Your pines could be different – this one is only native to the western US. But it’s been planted in lots of places, so maybe it’s the same tree. In any case, pines by the shore are a very nice thing, right? πŸ™‚ Thanks Jo, I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and I hope all’s well with you.

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  3. Not having heard the term “minus tide,” I wondered if the opposite phenomenon might be called a “plus tide.” My search didn’t turn up that term but I got plenty of hits about Tide plus Febreze, Tide plus Downy, and so on.

    The similarity of Vaccinium to vaccine got me wondering about a possible connection. Wikipedia says there isn’t one: “The name Vaccinium was used in classical Latin for a plant, possibly the bilberry or a hyacinth, and may be derived from the Latin bacca, berry, although its ultimate derivation is obscure. It is not the same word as Vaccinum ‘of or pertaining to cows'”.

    That’s quite a white maidenhair fern in #24.

    Railroad car or not (you’re funny), the mosses and multiply-angled branches in #20 do a great job of filling the frame.

    The name “clasping twistedstalk” seemed familiar. I looked back and found I’d photographed one in Alberta three years ago.

    Hyles moths are always a welcome sight for nature photographers.

    You’ve got an attractive chiaroscuro portrait in #17.

    In #12, I’d also have been drawn to photograph those cattails and their reflections.

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    • Oh, you pain me with your plus Tides! But I know you couldn’t help yourself. πŸ˜‰ And thank you for the word derivation search – the results are always interesting and usually unexpected.
      The maidenhair fern was, of course, bright green, but sometimes a bit of infrared processing tempts me. The Twisted stalk fascinates me, between the zig-zag stalk, the hidden flowers, and the nice leaf architecture. I bought one from the local native plant society – let’s see how it does.
      It’s cool to hear that you’re familiar with Hyles moths! He/she was gone this morning, of course, but we’ll be on the lookout for another one now.
      The cattails have drawn me before, and I’m sure they will again.
      Thanks for your close attention, Steve, it is appreciated!

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  4. You are obviously way, way ahead of Webster (where life is worth living) for new growth (we had snow last week). This is an outstanding group of images, Lynn, especially #12 and #25.

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    • I heard about that snow, but it gave you something different to work with, right? This post got awfully long, but there were lots of photos, and I like to try and get the feeling across with a variety of images. It’s always interesting to know which ones jump out at you. Thanks very much, and have a good week (after all, life is worth…).

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  5. yes so many varieties of flora…a rich terrain…I feel like I’m there the open field of flowers brings a sense of vastness…enjoy your days Lynn…so beautiful thanks for sharing ~ Hedy 🌷🌞

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  6. A beautiful series of all the good things in life. Nature – flowers, trees, birds, insects and all the rich colours of nature at her very best.
    Thanks for sharing, Lynn πŸ™‚

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    • Thank you! #2 is “just” a phone photo but sometimes they work better than the camera. I’m getting better at knowing when those times might be. Glad you liked the Robin, too. It’s been a very good spring, very lush. We needed that. Have a good weekend!

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  7. Wha a delightful ramble. I’m loving spring – watching the natural world come to life again. We are lucky to live in such an abundant place. Beautiful photos. We have a superbloom of buttercups this year!
    Alison

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    • Spring has been really lush here – probably true where you are, too? A superbloom of buttercups – yes, lots of them here as well, and everything else, it seems. just when we need it. Thank you!

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  8. The good energy of May is evident in this set of images. In fac, in this set of beautiful and technically perfect images!
    I like them all, because they all convey beauty, balance and the energy of the season.
    Lynn, I think we choose a beautiful month to be born!
    Thanks for sharing!

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  9. Wonderful series, Lynn. Glad you can still enjoy the parks. Most here are still closed but slowly opening. Your opening shot of the backlit Dogwood bloom is a perfect start, the Douglas Fir cone is such a surprise, Decatur island with that sliver of light is gorgeous. I am really drawn to the moss covered trees and that’s a beauty, love the dreamy alumroot and the fawn lily is exquisite. I love the branch on the lichen – beautifully seen and composed. (if the minor tilt bothers you, it can be adjusted) Thanks for the nature walk! Take care, friend. πŸ™‚

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    • I guess the parks remaining open (except for state parks, which reopened recently) was a function of having a smaller population. They’re busier but it’s still possible to find quiet places and times. I’m glad parks around SF are opening back up – you need it! That little fir cone is not what you’d expect when you think of the hard, dark brown cones you try to avoid stepping on. πŸ˜‰ It’s really fun, getting to know the flora better, especially as it’s all bursting back to life in spring.
      You know, I thought I did try to correct for the tilt of that one image but I went back and saw that I had forgotten to do that. Maybe I’ll replace it.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the walk, Jane. Here’s to many more, in various locations. πŸ™‚

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  10. I love the quiet beauty of this selection. The ‘hush’ is almost tangible. I found myself returning several times to number 9. The textural and compositional effect of the verticals and and the balance of colours combine perfectly/

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    • We’ve had a lush, vibrant spring, Louis. I see what you’re saying about #9 – the linear, vertical effect of the grasses (which I know we both love to see) is a good foil to the blue and white blossoms. Those little plants are gorgeous, but so much smaller than a garden delphinium! Thank you, and have a great weekend.

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  11. Another nice, and varied collection. The cattails remind me of shot I got up there and posted in B/W, I wonder if it’s the same spot. I haven’t been on Decatur, but there’s a small island on its east side called James Island that is our most frequent dive destination. (And we’ve been known to hang out on the beach too.) Hard to pick a favorite, I like them all.

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    • I bet it’s the exact same spot – it really draws my eye and I think it would draw yours as well. It’s like a pocket wetland, just behind the beaches at Bowman Bay in Deception Pass SP. A very photogenic spot – I have others, too. πŸ™‚ You and your dive destinations – I am envious!! Thank you, Dave! Enjoy the weekend…

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  12. You show so much beauty again that I can’t possibly spend the rest of the day without a smile on my face, dear Lynn!.
    The photo you took of the Olympic Mountains (N.4) shows William Turner’s shining abstraction in your version and the silver lining between water and Decatur Island in N.8 is so incredibly delicate.
    Delphinium are the flowers that never stay in my garden, no later than after two years they have vanished all the times I tried to give them a home here. Meanwhile, I gave it up and rejoice when you show me such deep, deep blue as in N.9.
    You may not be surprised that Plectritis congestor on the slope in N.14 is my absolute favorite, even though I am always fascinated by such glimmering edges you made up to the moss in N.20.
    How good not to have to decide whether April or May has produced the more splendid flowers (or photos)!

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    • I don’t think I would have predicted that the little pink wildflower meadow with the water beyond would be your favorite but it makes sense when I think of your love of Rugen (is that the right name?). Making a comparison to Turner is way too generous, but I appreciate the thought. πŸ™‚ These sea/sky horizons are fascinating, but it’s hard to figure out how to process the photo. In #8, that shows Decatur Island, there was a very strange muddied, jumbled look in the foreground so I had to darken it a huge amount to get the water looking smooth again, but it worked OK in the end. That teaches me not to give up on an image and to push farther.
      Yes, Delphiniums, so incredibly beautiful but so much trouble! The little larkspurs are their tiny relatives, and I suppose if we tried to bring them into the garden they too might be difficult. How wonderful it was to see them; the park opened JUST in time! I have to tell you a Delphinium story offline some time.
      you should know that moss-covered trees like the one in #20 often have that glowing look – it’s just the way the moss normally catches the light. It’s even better at sunset. πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much, Ule…I enjoy the give and take of your comments…have a good weekend!

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      • You mean moss-covered trees just look like in #20? You haven’t applied some cool NIK-tricks while processing? I wouldn’t believe it if you hadn’t told me so. Beautiful, anyway, but I have to learn what miracles Mother Nature is able to do over and over again. I wish you a fine weekend with some delightful photographing experience.

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        • πŸ™‚ I did play with it…I guess it’s more accurate to say that they often look like that AND I emphasized what I saw to reflect what I’ve seen and loved in the past as well as what I saw that day. I did apply some “NIK-tricks” but I’m not sure which ones. It’s very possible that I used a little of what’s called “Glamor glow” in my version. Do they make a German-language version or do you have an English language version? I find that used judiciously, Glamor glow can be nice. I made more changes afterwards, in LR, for example, increasing the luminance for green (42), yellow & orange for more glow.
          There was a small valley near where we used to live full of huge old maple trees covered in moss like this. Their branches are much more irregular than the evergreen trees’ branches. We used to call it Suess Valley – the trees looked like Dr. Suess creations, very animated – especially late in the day when the low sun was shining through them. πŸ™‚

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        • I see … I haven’t used NIK-filters for so long, that I do not remember whether it is in German or English. I watch so many Photoshop youtubes in English, that I meanwhile often do not recognize in which language they are explaining the stuff. But I will throw a glance on Glamor glow the next rainy day to come.

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  13. The shades of spring green never fail to delight me. If I must pick a favorite in this collection it might be 18… It’s the delicate, delightful sense of mystery that did it. Though each and every one is special. I imagine strolling through your wonderland with this sensuous presentation. Once again why the fates had me missing it.

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    • Gunta! Are you serious? #18 is a black and white. Maybe you meant another one? πŸ˜‰ In any case, I’m very pleased that you enjoyed the post…and isn’t it grand that we’re both enjoying such a lush spring? We need it!! We’re not so far away…there may be another time, when a trip goes more smoothly. You never know. πŸ™‚

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    • It IS a special season! As I get older, I’m more able to appreciate the beauties of fall and winter, but I think spring still remains my favorite season – like you said, in temperate climates. It’s all that growth and future-oriented possibility. The Alumroot “haze” is an effect that always appeals to me, so it’s nice to hear that one appealed to you, too. Enjoy the weekend, Otto, and thanks!

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  14. #25 got my rapt attention also but, differing from Gary, I’d like to see it as a black and white. I’ve never seen a conifer cone like the Douglas Fir, but then I’ve never seen a Douglas Fir. πŸ™‚ You had a very productive half-May and, as I am late getting here, I am hoping it was just as good in the second half. I know this comment is a bit childish, but with all the scientific nomenclature changes happening so often, I sure do wish they’d come up with a different genus name for the robin. Your hawkmoth is beautiful. Some of my best moth shots have been in screens. πŸ™‚

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    • Black and white makes sense for #25, too, good idea. Douglas fir cones turn brown, like most others I guess, but they retain the odd little “mouse feet” and that makes them easy to identify. When conifers look alike, and some often do, if there’s a cone on the ground somewhere, Douglas fir can be quickly identified. It’s true, it’s been a very productive time between late March and mid-May, and I have to say, it kind of wore me out. I’m trying to take it slower now. Love your comment about the Robin’s Latin name. πŸ˜‰ Thanks so much, Steve!!

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      • That name just makes me think of Mr. Hankey. (disclaimer…I never watched South Park but know a few of the details…talking poo indeed).

        I am glad you are dialing it back a little. I did that last week after my fall. With all this free time I have tried to get out every day but give myself some R&R. Plus, lots of stuff to do around here before the hot weather sets in. We’ve been in the 80’s the last few days. I think I’ll be getting back to work in a week or two. I spend about half my time in solitude anyway so contact with people is infrequent save for the lunchroom, Not sure how that’s going to work out.

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        • A looming question mark, going back to work. I’m glad you’re allowing yourself some R&R…and temps in the 80’s – well, that sounds familiar. We’ are still in the 50s and 60s and may get to 70 this week. Nice and slow. The 80s now feels oppressive – and I want to go back to Costa Rica someday! What am I thinking? πŸ˜‰

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  15. Pingback: MORE MAY RAMBLES « bluebrightly


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