Summer is winding down

Rabbitbrush, fireweed, and asters continue to bloom, and the three species of sagebrush in Cache Creek have now begun to bloom as well. Very inconspicuous flowers, unless you are allergic.

 

Young birds are growing up and flocking for migration. Western tanagers are especially evident in the lower part of Cache Creek. The first fall colors begin, especially in the understory as wildflowers finish their cycle. One of the brighter lights in the woods this time of year is shown here.

Fireweed leaves turn bright red at the end of summer.

Fireweed leaves turn bright red at the end of summer.

Fruits are also beginning to turn up. Chokecherry is ripening (especially on the access road into Cache Creek), snowberry is beginning to plump up into little round pellets. The fairy bells are turning orange, then red, as shown here.

The fruit of fairy bells is actually a capsule not a berry, divided into 3 compartments.

The fruit of fairy bells is actually a capsule not a berry, divided into 3 compartments.

Late-season flowers are in bloom

As the heat and drought of mid-summer wither earlier blooms, the flower scene is dominated by several species of the sunflower family. Rubber rabbitbrush comes into bloom now, with clusters of bright yellow flowers held on the ends on the long branches of this dryland shrub. Showy goldeneye blooms mostly along the Sidewalk and upper end of the Putt-putt trail. Its flowers are classic sunflower shape, though smaller than the earlier balsamroot and little sunflower, now going to seed. Herbaceous forms of sage are also in bloom, notably the fringed, or boreal, sagewort. Small flowers on silver-leaved stems. Three species of goldenrod are also adding to the color – the tallest one is Canada goldenrod, found in the lower part of Cache Creek. Blue harebell, showy aster, and the past-peak flowers of sulfur flower (shown here) add to the variety of colors.

Toward the end of its bloom, sulfur flower turns rust to rose colored.

Toward the end of its bloom, sulfur flower turns rust to rose colored.

 

Viguiera

Showy goldeneye

 

rabbitbrush

Rubber rabbitbrush, with many small blooms that attract bees, flies, beetles and other pollinators.

 

For most plants seed-time is upon them, and their many forms from ripening berries to fluffy parachutes attract songbirds and rodents.  The fat and protein stored in seeds are important for bird species readying to migrate and rodents heading underground for hibernation or feeding from their food caches.

Views of Cliff Creek Fire July 18 2016

The Woods Canyon Trail in Cache Creek is an excellent place to view the column above the Cliff Creek fire, which ignited on July 16. It has grown a lot in 2 days as can be seen from the photo.

Smoke from Cliff Creek Fire

Smoke from Cliff Creek Fire

Tall flowers at peak

Mid-July is the moment for the tall wildflower parks in Cache Creek. Sunflower, saw groundsel and fireweed join sticky geranium and silky lupine with the greatest variety to be found along the upper Sidewalk Trail and the main trail around the Mile 1 marker. Butterflies are abundant now too, especially the showy swallowtails and Widemeyer’s admiral. The display will last a while, as these tall flowers have many blooms. They are soon to be joined by the asters, which are just now coming into bloom.

fabulous flower mixes bedeck the trails in Cache Creek mid-July.

fabulous flower mixes bedeck the trails in Cache Creek mid-July.

Flowers at their peak soon

The sunflowers are blooming along the main trail, soon to be followed by the tallest blooms of all, saw groundsel (yellow) and fireweed (magenta). Songbirds are showing off their fledged young, and those still in the nest can be heard cheeping for food. Butterflies are in great evidence now, from the showy swallowtails to small checkerspots. Time to bring bug dope along the trails as the Rocky Mountain biting snipe flies and horseflies are hungry.

Nootka rose is showy and fragrant along the Hagen Trail.

Nootka rose is showy and fragrant along the Hagen Trail.