Ellensburg- Umtanum Creek Wildlife Refuge, April 5th 2014

4 May

We spent a really nice, relaxing weekend in Ellensburg a few weeks ago. While we were over there one of the highlights of the trip was a short hike up into the Umtanum Creek Wildlife Refuge, just a few short miles south of Ellensburg. We have camped there in the summer years ago, but the river front area has been “improved” and you can’t just pitch a tent like you used to. It’s gotten busier too, lots of college kids hiking in the sun, some with music blaring (what’s the point of hiking a nature trail with music blaring, anyway?)

It was early for the best wildflower shows, but we did see some early blooming stuff that normally I only see seed heads forming on. So some of the better pics from the day;

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Sagebrush buttercups were all over, mostly in patches here and there. Often all I see of these later is just the leaves and a few seed heads. It was nice to see them in full flower this time.

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A close up of the same, they really are a breath of promise of spring!

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See the Mourning Cloak Butterfly? This was the first of several species we spotted flitting around.

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Ribes cereus was in full bloom, but that also abundant Ribes aureum was still mostly in bud. The cereus ranged from creamy greenish flushed pink to a few individuals with a nice pink flushed cream to the whole flower. I wouldn’t mind trying some of these in the garden some time, I was really tempted with one or two to take some cuttings.

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These little prairie stars were scattered around as well. I’ve tried growing these, but I don’t think I have enough sun for them, or maybe the winter wet in Seattle is just too much for them.

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I believe this is Lomarium dissectum, but I don’t know the Lomariums well enough to say for sure. They were just starting to flower, many were still tightly budded out, with only a few showing open flowers. The dusky purple stems on some setting off the grey cast leaves were showier than the tiny flowers, even though the umbels could get pretty good sized.

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One of the pinker Ribes cereus. These really were lovely, and buzzing with all kinds of bees and other early pollinators. I kept wondering if we were keeping a hummingbird from them, lol.

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A wider shot, where you can see how brown much of the landscape still was, winter only barely letting go to show some early spring color.

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These aspen were still basically asleep, with only the barest hint of buds swelling. The grasses too still looked dry and sere. Along the creek were more green grass, but those in the fields and along the drier washes were still in winter drab mode.

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Along a fence like next to the aspen grove, this one Ribes aureum was showing a bit of color. Another couple of warm days and these would pop open for sure. Just not quite ready while we were there.

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Not sure if this was the same kind of Lomatium as the other, but the purple stems of the flowers were really quite striking.

Before heading home, we scouted the back side of the park, which is accessed from a completely different set of much more primitive roads. We didn’t go all the way to Upper Umptanum Creek trail head, but did find a spot where the road went over what I assume was aunts in Creek, and scouted around a bit. Aside from mostly the same or similar wildflowers we saw earlier, we also found a grass covered pond kind of thing where some frogs were croaking quite a bit, and a couple of white butterflies were lecking in the puddles along the path.

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Maybe a leapord frog?

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A tiger Swallowtail, not sure which one. Apparently I didn’t get a pic of the white one, which looked to be a native, not a cabbage white.

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I spotted this bright green hairstreak on the road along the way to looking at the bright pink purple rock cress below, a nice twofer!

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Pretty much right after taking these, we headed home. We licked out on the weather, which was supposed to be raining and stormy but ended up being partly sunny and overcast, Moses threatening rain than actually doing it. When the sun was out it was actually very pleasant and warm!

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