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2019-08-07 Siskiyou Summit

Yellow-Faced Bumblebee - Bombus vosnesenskii
These meetings along the Siskiyou Summit Road (FS-20) between Ashland and Applegate did not yield as many birds as I’d hoped, but the bugs and flowers were a nice consolation prise.

On my drive over the Siskiyou Summit Ridge, most birds were resistive to my efforts to find them. I had one episode with what I believe was an Evening Grosbeak while stopped along a steep hillside. I just couldn’t get my camera pointed at the angle required for the capture before the bird flew off.

I found several dozen juvenile American Robins foraging on small red berries growing on the steep slopes just west of Mount Ashland Ski Park. I’ve always found juvenile birds to be interesting. With feathers fresh and experience lacking, they fumble their way through their early days learning to find food for themselves. As fledglings a week or so earlier, their parents gathered groceries and delivered them to their progeny, and if the young were smart, they watched Mom and Dad to see where they found the food. The birds I watched this morning were all juveniles, and I deduced Mom and Dad had done their jobs well; teaching their babies to fend for themselves.

The Gray Jays I’d hoped to meet must have been otherwise occupied, as I failed to detect their presence. I stopped several times along my forty mile drive over this rough dirt and rock road called FS-20. I concluded I was late for many of the birds nesting in this alpine treasure known as the Siskiyou Summit.

The wildflowers along the route were amazing; some carpeting the wide meadows, some exploiting the disturbed roadside, and others lining the still damp streambeds and watercourses draining the mountain slopes. I found a wide spot near a seeping spring falling from the southern flanks of Dutchman’s Peak and took my leave from driving while I enjoyed the bees and butterflies dancing among the wildflowers.

A close examination on even these members of the ecosystem revealed the wear-and-tear that the season extracts from its occupants. Many blooms had seen better days. Yet even in their worn and tattered state, there was ample beauty to enjoy.

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