Posted by: atowhee | September 6, 2008

Blackberry summer

The Himalayan blackberry is a staunch supporter of globalization.  It is a widespread species across North America, half a planet away from its homeland.  It is now found across Europe and much of North America.  Its origins may have been in Armenia.  You can differentiate it it from native species: Himalayan has five leaves per cluster and a stalk that is five-sided.  California blackberry, for example, has leaf clusters of three.

Rubus discolor is a big success.  I knew it well as a child in the MIssouri Ozarks.  Late August was blackberry pciking season.  The sharp brambles and scratched arms.  Long-sleeve shirts in the boiling August humidity. Chiggers kept away (mostly) by a nauseous mixture of bacon grease and sulphur heavily applied to skin and sox.  Juice-stained fingers, and tongue–it was always necessary to taste the produce to insure ripeness. 

Right now it is blackberry summer here in the Rogue Valley.  This morning I pretended to bird around Newbry Park, Talent.  I was really scouting for the ripest blackberries juts beyond easy reach from the Bear Creek Greenway path.  Seems I am not the only wild fruit harvester on this trail.  I found many berries, just one row of bramble back from the path’s edge. One bramble patch was alive with Robins, filling up before tonight’s southward flight.  They have good taste.  This year’s blackberries nearest creeks and low spots are superb.  Each little sac of juice melts away on the slightest pressure.  Each thimble-sized berry looses a small jet of sweet, deep flavor into the mouth. Long hot sunny days have made this a very ‘berry summer for bird and man alike.

I was not surprised to see those observant fruit-eaters, a flock of Cedar Waxwings, just overhead.










There were other signs of the impending cold weather.  I saw my first migrant ducks of the season: five American Wigeon and a Shoveler on one of Newbry’s ponds.

There was very little bird sound.  The usual loud juays and Crows, a pair of singing Bewick;s Wrens, a calling Wrentit, a few chip notes. The Western Tanagers are in smnall flocks now and occasionally one would let out a “cr-r-r-r-k” call.  Else there was but the running waterin Besar Creek, and the silent dropping yellow leaves from cottonwood and aspen.  And a nearly empty blue sky.  Not a swallow aloft, nor a swift.

Location:     Newbry Park & Greenway, Talent
Observation date:     9/6/08
Notes:     first migrant ducks of the fall
Number of species:     19

Canada Goose     15
American Wigeon     5
Northern Shoveler     1
California Quail     2
Pied-billed Grebe     2
Turkey Vulture     1
Cooper’s Hawk     1
Belted Kingfisher     1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)     1
Western Wood-Pewee     1
Western Scrub-Jay     4
American Crow     1
Bewick’s Wren     2
American Robin     6


Location:     Bear Valley Greenway–Ashland
Observation date:     9/5/08
Number of species:     16

Wood Duck     8
Turkey Vulture     1
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Rock Pigeon     4
Mourning Dove     2
Anna’s Hummingbird     1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)     1
Western Wood-Pewee     1
Western Scrub-Jay     3
American Crow     1
European Starling     30
Common Yellowthroat     1
Western Tanager     2
Brewer’s Blackbird     10
American Goldfinch     16
House Sparrow     8



  1. Very beautiful birds. Nice photo. :)))

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