365 Nature – Day 226

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Learn more about the project and see all the 365 Nature posts.

We awoke to a peaceful forest on Mount Rainier and got up so we could get to Paradise before the crowds. We arrived at the Paradise parking lot just after 8:30 and while it wasn’t yet full, it was still crowded. We set off along the Skyline trail and were immediately greeted with flower meadows full of Subalpine Lupine, Pink Mountain Heather, Magenta Paintbrush, aster, Rosy Spirea and the seeds of Pasqueflower. Once it started warming up even more, the meadows came alive with many species of butterflies. On the Rosy Spirea dozens of syrphid flies, beetles and small bees sought nectar. One of the syrphid flies in particular caught my eye, it was gold, not in color, but it actually looked like gold shining in the sun.

We spotted our first Hoary Marmot at the Dead Horse Creek Trail split and saw many more after that. They were all over the meadows eating the plants and down in one of the valleys, they were chasing each other around, creating quite a spectacle. There were also chipmunks and Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels, particularly around the areas where people stopped for snacks.

In the trees and meadows I saw Chipping Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. Near our first marmot, we saw at least three grouse, Dusky Grouse I believe they were.

Back at our campground, while we were having our smores I noticed some movement behind our site. With a flick of a white tail, I realized it was a deer. Behind the doe, we spotted a fawn, still with spots. As I watched, the fawn leaped clear over a fallen log and I soon saw the reason for its haste, three kids were following the pair of deer.

As it grew dark, I turned on my black light flashlight and set it to shine on an old shower curtain. Within a very short time, it had attracted a lot of micro-moths and quite a few flies. Before long a very loud buzz drew closer and then suddenly landed on my arm. It was the first beetle that was attracted to the light, one of four large beetles. Many moths came and went,, many small, but some larger including a beautiful copper colored one.

Kelly Brenner
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