Posted by: atowhee | July 9, 2021


July 9, 2021

The Salem newspaper has brief story on the long-term effects of the widespread sun scald on plants here in the Willamette. Some of those that went through our recent heat dome and the temps over 110F.  Much of the damage should become invisible next spring on trees and the perennials.  Gold dust plants (Aucuba genus) were especially hard hit.  At Deepwood Gardens the western half of some exposed Aucuba were blackened, the leaves dead and shriveled.

Today I ate my first ripe wild blackberry of the season, a second one was still acid tart.  The berries on Oregon grape have turned red.  Some of this year’s walnuts have fallen, maybe due to the heat.  Recently I saw one of our surviving squirrels carrying a walnut hidden from last year’s crop. Sadly–I venture–we never get more than two squirrels in ur garden at once. I fear the others expired when the heat transpired. Prior to that it was not unusual to see six squirrels chasing and gobbling about our feeders.

The crows are molting.  I often find feathers on the ground.  The young crows are in little gangs at the park, very loud, rowdy and bouncy.

The nuthatches follow the CB Chickadee family around while feeding.  A male Downy is a regular and  he even  eats sunflower seeds, first time I’ve seen that species eat seeds.  The Bewick’s Wren uses only the suet feeders. I note the two nuthatches (one each–RB, WB) seem to arrive and depart with the chickadees. There is safety in numbers. Often the Downy comes along. The wren and our seedeaters are usually on their own.

Here at less than 200′ elevation we get both White-breasted and Red-breasted Nuthatch, each with its separate proclivites for preferred habitat. Years ago in San Francisco, elevation <100′, we had only Pygmy Nuthatches year round. Occasionally one of the others would appear in winter even though they would be easy to find thirty miles away. Nature is never consistent nor does she adhere to complex laws. If you can survive there, go for it. That’s nature’s #1 law. I once had a pair of birders visiting from the Northeast and was showing them Golden Gate Park. A bit earlier we had seen Black Oystercatcher along the rocky coastline, now we were in a man-planted conifer forest of Monterey pine and cypress. The local flock of “Pine Nuts”–as they were nicknamed by birders who expected their dithery chip notes in the trees–came by. The easterners were amazed. We had just seen a shorebird on the shore and now we were seeing what they think of as mountain birds. We have to go up Mt. Washington to find these, one guy said. That’s New England’s tallest mountain. Here in Oregon we rarely see the Pine Nuts on the west side of the Cascades so we have to go east and upslope to 4000′ or beyond. Here, for a confusing example, we expect our Canada Jays in the Cascades. I know a set of garden feeders outside Eureka, not far from the coast, where a flock of resident Canada Jays comes daily to clean out the seeds. “If you can survive there…”

Click here for story about the heat wave massacre of ocean life.

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