On Rufous Hummingbirds

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I watched a Rufous Hummingbird lift off its nest for the first time not long ago. It didn't fly far on its brand new wings - just far enough to experience the possibilities of flight. Its mother soon appeared to feed the little Rufous some nectar - a boost of energy, perhaps, after the momentous undertaking. It was an auspicious occasion for me, too, watching the finely feathered fledgling levitate from a nest that was a wonder of green lichens and bits of bark fastened to the bough of a cedar tree with spider silk and a prayer.

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Counting fawn lilies

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The San Juan Islands are a wonderful place to find spring wildflowers. The post-glacial till of south-facing slopes and variety of forest and wetland habitats promote high diversity here and wide-ranging opportunities for plant lovers seeking their favorite blooms.

With spring just around the corner and our warm winter weather a predictor, perhaps, of early blooming wild flowers and plants, I took to the trail recently in search of signs that a new season was at hand.

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Monarch in our midst

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Not long ago, islander Ron Keeshan was photographing swallowtail butterflies in his yard along the shore of North Bay when a fine thing happened. A monarch butterfly appeared. It was perched on a plant called Buddleia - often referred to as butterfly bush. Ron was in his zone, concentrating more on keeping in focus than on the swallowtails he was shooting. He aimed at the butterfly, adjusted the lens and pressed the shutter release. As he heard the click, there was a brief moment of recognition. But, Ron did not expect to see the monarch here so he dismissed it in favor of a deadline and moved on. It was not until the film came back from the developer that he realized what had taken place. The appearance of a monarch is a very rare occurrence in the San Juan Islands.

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Cattail Marsh

Not long ago, I saw Matt Pranger's photograph of cattails at Percich Pond. It was a beautiful image of an idyllic island scene. Why, I wondered, was I sitting indoors catching up on my reading when there were so many fascinating places nearby to explore- even if it was only 25 degrees Fahrenheit outside. I waited for it to warm up a bit before I headed out, but soon I found my own stand of cattails to contemplate.

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