Orchids, Rumors, Minks, and Snapper John

I think this post will exemplify the randomness that we here at Wahkeena experience on a weekly basis. No complaints, it makes life very interesting!

The long awaited time is here, the first of several orchids are in bloom. The Showy Orchis is in full bloom and can be seen along the Cassa Burro Trail. There are two spots to view the Pink Lady’s Slipper from the trail, and those flowers are in various stages of development. They range from tight green buds to flowers that haven’t quite gotten their color yet. Off trail, on the ridge top, there are PLS in full bloom – but they get quite a bit more sunlight up there. So, there should be plenty of opportunities for viewing the orchids.

Other flowers that are now in bloom are:
Pink Azalea
Mountain Azalea
Foam Flower
Canada Mayflower
Soloman’s Seal
Violet Wood Sorrel
Fire Pink
Dwarf Crested Iris

A lot of what we do here at the Nature Center for visitors is myth busting about animals. We often hear common but very false rumors, usually regarding bears and snakes. There other day though, we heard a new one. The rumor was that “they” were releasing cougars around the Toledo area to eat coyotes. First we asked, who is “they”. As with most rumors of this kind the “they” always remains a mystery. Anyway, after discussing the various reasons why this rumor didn’t make sense (wrong habitat, wrong food source, too many people around, etc.) we called a contact at ODNR Division of Wildlife. We confirmed that this rumor is 100% false.

Over the past few years it seems as if every intern had the exciting event of seeing a mink. It has been frustrating for me because I want to see one too! Our intern this spring of course saw a mink. Then he saw it again! I felt doomed to never get to see one. Well, finally my luck changed. Tom and I were returning from an errand and our intern flags us down. “The mink is out!” he exclaims, and he had the good sense to have grabbed the camera. So, I finally got to see the mink, and it put on quite a show for us. It kept running back and forth across the driveway. We got quite close to it too, as you can see by the pictures.

Snapper John:
Our intern this spring is way into reptiles. He knows way more that you would ever want to know about snakes, lizards, and turtles. He seems to have a special place in his heart for Snapping Turtles. We have been seeing a couple of very large snappers in the big pond. One day, John and I see one and before I know what’s happening, John’s shoes and socks are on the trail and he’s wading into the pond to get the snapper! He was successful, as you can see, and the turtle was really quite large. The shell measured 15 inches by 16 inches and she weighed about 15 pounds!

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