[Tweeters] Springing Along In Port Townsend

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign15 at gmail.com
Sat Apr 3 14:17:33 PDT 2021

While domesticated flowering garden plants are rapidly transforming the landscape in PT (Mother Nature is a bit more subtle). Some of this is due to shopping frenzies and impulse buying of blooming nursery plants in spring after one of those somewhat depressing gray winters we typically have. I used to recommend to landscape customers to try and stick to a plan that includes spring, summer, fall, and winter flowers. Like, don’t go food shopping when your’e really hungry.

Oh well.

Nature has patience and things move along at traditional pace. This week I returned to some of my regular hangouts and noted a few changes. First, before leaving home, I watched the neighborhood Bald Eagles flying around their home fir grove, one closely following the other, up down and all around. Pheromones I presumed were involved. The travelin' Red-wing blackbird made at least 4 trips to the feeder today, flying up the hill from down on the waterfront - which seemed like quite a long trip, but in truth only took the bird 15 to 20 seconds.

Stopping by the dunes near Pt. Wilson I noted an increase in “tiny dune plants” like the bright blue Collinsia (blue-eyed Mary), a very small ruddy brown Claytonia exigua in bloom, and the widespread and super tiny import Draba verna. These are all annuals.
Also the first Cakile blooming - also an import, but seemingly not too disruptive.

I was somewhat shocked to find big changes at North Beach, where last summer I jokingly called it the “Soopollalie Shore” because of a number of large (the largest I've seen at the park so far) Soopollalie shrubs I found growing at base of the sandy cliffs. Now they’re all gone! A lot of erosion has occurred, probably winter storms. I did manage to find two Soopollalie (the high-priced name is Shepherdia canadensis, but I like Soopollalie better). This time of year the whole shrub is sort of a rusty color since the undersides of the still opening leaves are covered with rusty nodules, as are the branches. If they’re blooming now (probably are, but couldn’t see with binoculars) they have tiny green flowers. All in all an interesting plant. “ Soap Berry” is another name for this plant which Native Americans whipped into a sort of “Indian Ice Cream”, and for other uses.

Not too birds, but did see a Common Loon near shore, some DC Cormorants, 4 Red-necked Grebe, and a few RB Mergansers. One of a pair of Herring Gulls manage to vigorously yank a Kelp crab off some floating algae and then hauled it to shore and began delaminating it. In the beach wrack at the high tide mark were loads of dead Kelp crabs more signs of stormy weather.

Stopping off at Kah Tai prairie I noted a few more flowers besides the Spring Gold (lomatium) and increasing numbers of Satin Flower (Olsynium) which are a bright reddish purple, but I did find one white one among the hundreds of normies. I also found a white one last year, in a different spot. New flowers this week were pink flowered Geum triflorum (up by the rocks) and a few Lithophragma. What looks like new dark green grass coming up will soon be a sea of blue Camas.

Right now I’m having a re-run of Decembers Siskin invasion, on a somewhat lesser scale.

Jeff Gibson
Port Townsend WA

More information about the Tweeters mailing list