August 26, 2013 by Rokman61
Manning Park, lying along the crest of the Cascade Mountain Range about 3 hours drive east of home, has long been a favourite destination – first for camping and hiking, then birding, and more recently for nature photography. In summer 2010 I made a short visit to the park to try out my then newly-acquired camera equipmet. Some of my results were assembled in an email that was sent out to family and friends. That email is reproduced here with minor edits as ‘Part 1’ of this blog instalment. ‘Part 2’ presents a more recent visit – July 2013. ‘Part 3’ is an addendum that I thought would be of interest here.
(Click on the images for larger views, especially on the horizontal ones).
PART 1 Feeling the desperate need for some R&R, I packed up ‘Fang’ (my 1984 Toyota pickup fitted with sleeping deck) and drove up to Manning Park for a two day getaway (July 28-29, 2010). I had no urgent objectives, except to photograph some Hoary Marmots, if I could find them – which I did not, despite three tries at the locality they were supposed to frequent. (I have since learned that the small marmot colony that used to live in the rock piles near the Heather parking lot are no longer present there). However, there was still lots to see. At this time of year the major attraction at Manning is the wildflower display in the subalpine meadows along the route to Brothers mountains. I ambled around there for several hours, taking in the sun and the scenery.
There were flowers and butterflies everywhere, but my close-up photography needs a lot of work. Here are a few of my better tries. You may note that I’m kind of hooked on back-lit subjects.
When I photographed this thistle, I just assumed it was some non-native, invasive weed. A good friend who is deeply into native flora corrected me – it is our one common native species, and a very pretty one at that.
Here are two Variable Checkerspots – living up to their name.
Mountain air during summer atmospheric ‘highs’ is always somewhat murky, due to natural hydrocarbon aerosols emitted by the conifer forests, often augmented by the smoke from wildfires. It makes for some rather surreal vistas.
There were very few birds that provided good photo ops. This Sooty Grouse was foraging along the roadside, but he kept deep inside the dark shade of the brush. I took quite a few frames, but only this peak at him in the sun is worth showing.
I spent the morning of my second day walking around in the forest around Lightning Lake.
Douglas squirrels are common and noisy in the valley forest, but they mostly stay in rather dark habitat, so photos end up rather grainy.
Similar problem with this otherwise accommodating Mule Deer. I managed to get this portrait with her face in a patch of sunlight.
The colony of Columbian Ground-squirrels on the lawns at the lodge and picnic areas can always be counted on for some fun photography. In contrast to really wild subjects who tend to shy away when approached, these guys are just the opposite. Any attempt to get down low for a better angle is met with a swift and instant approach by the intended subject, hoping for a handout. When I snapped this shot, there was another one walking over my shoe.
I wanted to catch them in the bolt upright posture, but they weren’t co-operating. Eventually I did manage to get a few images of this comical trio of youngsters. One can just imagine the patter going on between them . . . “Hey guys, what’s up?” “We think we heard something”.
“Sounded like it was over there.”
“Are you sure it wasn’t over this way?”
“Or maybe this way?” “That good-looking guy with the camera sure is rather suspicious.”
“We better keep an eye out!”
Always on the alert, Carlo
In July 15-17, 2013, I returned for a revisit. Because I was a bit earlier in the season (10-12 days) than in 2010, there was a slightly different suite of flowers and I noticed far fewer butterflies.
On arriving at my campsite, I noticed a species of Spirea that differed from our pink-flowered species on the coast (presented in previous post, June-July). This one I believe is Birch-flowered Spirea (S. betulifolia).
First thing next morning I noticed more spirea, this time with different colour and form. I assume this one is Pyramid Spirea (S. pyramidal). That makes for four native species in the last month. Various cultivars of spirea are also very commonly found in urban landscaping.
I spent most of the first day meandering along a trail through the sup-alpine meadows, elevation about 6000′, the wildflower show here being a destination for many visitors. Here is a sampling.
Difficult to pass up photos of the ‘tow-headed babies’ – the seed heads of Western Pasqueflower. In this plant the seeding stage is more interesting than the actual flowers.
This one is a common plant that happens to be burdened with an awful name; so unfair considering its very interesting and attractive flower head.
How’s this for a splash of colour!
It’s not just the flowers that make the meadows so attractive. Note the form and textures in this lush tangle of green foliage.
And this dense low mat of many colours.
Here are some blossoms on our native thistle.
As you can see, there are MANY and varied wildflowers in Manning meadows! I have lots more photos, but I’ll stop here.
Whilst tramping around in the high meadows, it’s also worth looking up to take in the view. This is the crest of the Cascade range in Washington, USA. (Click for larger image).
Not nearly as many butterflies as I encountered in 2010, possibly because I didn’t get as high into the alpine, or maybe it was just not so good a year. This Edith’s (?) Checkerspot was looking rather conspicuous on the False Hellebore leaves.
I believe this one is a Hoary Comma.
Damselflies were abundant around any standing water, but most are hopelessly difficult to identify for a beginner. I suspect this one is some kind of Bluet, Enallagma sp..
This one is much easier – a Red-waisted Whiteface, or Belted Whiteface, depending on which reference you consult. A fine example of why the scientific binomial names are superior to the common names – it is called Leucorrhinia proxima according to both references.
Meanwhile I had almost no opportunities to photograph birds on this outing. Presumably many were busy feeding young and not much interested in announcing their presence and showing themselves. My best sighting was of this Pine Grosbeak, but she didn’t hang around for more than a few seconds.
Common Loons nest on the lakes at Manning, where they are much more successful at catching trout than I ever was. We see hundreds of them along our coast in winter, but then they are mostly in their rather plain grey-and-white plumage. This is a rather distant photo, but it is nice to see them in their breeding finery.
On the second day I chose to take a walk on a trail that I had never done before. The track follows along a valley well below the high meadows. It starts at a place called ‘Strawberrry Flats’, a name that I had never thought much about. It turns out that the trail follows a long level sandy terrace – presumably outwash deposits left by a melting glacier that once filled the valley. The ground is literally paved with strawberry plants.
There are two species of native strawberry that occur widely right across the continent. This one is Wild Strawberry, Fragaria virginiana, easily identified because the last tooth at the end of the leaf is shorter/smaller than the adjacent ones.
The track I was following was called the ‘Trail of Three Falls’, possibly because there were three waterfalls in view along the way. This is the second and most impressive of the three.
I’ll end this journal with my favourite of the trip. The little Pika aka Cony aka Rock Rabbit lives exclusively in subalpine rock piles, where it harvests and dries plant material and stores the hay for winter consumption.
These little guys must surely be near the very top of the cuteness list!
Would you argue with that?
Way back in 2008, a friend invited two of us on a daytrip to Manning specifically to look for some marmots and other critters to photograph. We drove straight to a popular lookout where the inhabitants are accustomed to getting handouts from sightseers. Here are a few images from that day. They were taken with a point-and-shoot camera, which preceded my acquisition of a more serious DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) instrument.
This one is a Cascade Golden-mantled Ground-squirrel. It seems to be stretching out as if trying to match its name.
Here you can see just how tame these critters have become. It is illegal to feed wildlife, but at this locality they are so accustomed to getting fed that there was no need to make an offering – our mere presence resulted in their appearance. The bird is a Grey Jay.
Our expedition leader is a squirrel fancier, but he had not previously encountered this particular species. Not a bad look for a ‘lifer’.
To bring them fairly close, one only needed to present an open hand and they would scurry in to investigate.
We had been hoping to see some of the big Hoary Marmots, but they were not to be found. Instead we encountered two other kinds of furry fauna, a nice consolation.
As you can see, photographing the little rodents was much like ‘shooting fish in a barrel’.
What fun! I resolved that day to return, and so I did, as chronicled in Parts 1 and 2 above.