A Day in the Life… Part13

What the !*#?% is going on! Wednesday saw day time temperatures in the high 60’s and today the high was 35 degrees … and some snow flurries. What another crazy week in the life of Wahkeena.

Early in the week, I got a notice from good friend and nature enthusiast Roger Grossenbacher that the Hazelnuts were in bloom. So I went out to take a look and sure enough there they were.

American Hazelnut

The flowers of the Hazelnut (Corylus americana) the extremely tiny and one cannot be blamed for overlooking them. But these ruby gems are a real treat and a surprising dash of color in an otherwise drab woodland. These flowers are so tiny that you may be wondering what type of creature pollinates them. The answer is none! They are wind pollinated.

Catkin of Hazelnut

The catkins or male flowers of the Hazelnut are a golden yellow in contrast to the ruby red female flowers. When they open fully, little clouds of pollen can be seen exiting the catkins.  If successfully pollinated the female flower will produce a nut in the fall. Hazelnuts are also known as filberts. And they are the stuff that Nutella is made from!

On Wednesday night we had an amphibian program and although the rains exited earlier in the day and we did not see a mass migration of Spotted salamanders, we did have a good night.

Six species of amphibians were seen by 30 visitors to Wahkeena. There were some Spotted Salamanders and we also saw quite a few Red-spotted Newts and larval Long-tailed Salamanders. The Wood Frogs were very noisy, as were the Peepers. We caught several pairs of Spring Peepers in amplexus. Amplexus is when the male frog grabs the female and rides “piggy back” so he can fertilize the eggs as the female releases them.  We also saw two of the beavers swimming in the pond and heard and saw a Barred owl fly over our heads. So it was a good night,

 By contrast, today was deathly quiet because of the return of cold temperatures. Except for the honking of Canada geese of course!

And when we are not building bridges to unite humans with nature, we are actually building bridges. As in foot bridges like the one below. 

Today I was able to replace two bridges on the Shelter Trail and also spend some time with visitors all the way from Spain! The Black Rat Snake very much enjoyed the warmth the visitors transferred to the snake as Mom and Dad and the two boys took turns holding him.

Adios amigos !

Posted by Tomas

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