Pink flowers in my yard: Sunday Stills

Today I’m featuring portraits of pink flowers in my Bend, Oregon yard. All of these plants are drought tolerant, once established.

The first photo is an ice plant. This groundcover has cheerful starburst flowers and succulent leaves. The leaves turn a bronze color in winter. We had an escapee take root in another part of our yard and it survived without watering.

Ice plant

The second plant is a Woods’ rose. This native 2-5 foot tall shrub attracts bees, butterflies, and birds. Red rose hips develop once the flowers lose their petals.

Pink flowers of Wood's rose

The third plant is a hollyhocks. This tall perennial needs more water at first than others on this post, but once established it’s fairly drought tolerant. They grow to a height of over three feet and make a bold statement in the garden.

Hollyhocks

The fourth picture is of a dwarf monkeyflower. They grow up to 4 inches in height and most of that height is in the flower. This native plant grows wild in the High Desert habitat on our property. The plants pictured are about two inches tall.

Dwarf monkeyflower

The fifth plant pictured is a cholla cactus. They produce a big crop of flowers in early summer, followed by yellowish fruit. As I have mentioned before, I have cultivated them by placing a single stem on the ground.

Pink flowers of Cholla cactus

The sixth photo shows a tufted evening primrose. As its name implies, it blooms at night and closes up during the day. This is one of my favorite native flowering plants, but unfortunately the deer like it too. We have to regularly spray them with deer repellant.

Tufted evening primrose

When looking for photos for the Sunday Stills Photo Challenge this week that included the color pink, I discovered I had more pink flowers in my yard than I thought. A happy discovery!

Sunday Stills – Pink

Colorful lichens up close: Macro Monday

These colorful lichens are growing on a rock in my High Desert yard. So much variety in a tiny landscape!

Colorful lichens up close

Macro Monday

Warner Wetlands-Wonderful throughout the year: LAPC

The Warner Wetlands of south central Oregon are beautiful throughout the year. I dug into my archives to find photos taken long ago there, supplemented with a few recent ones.

You can view wispy sunsets over the wetlands in the summer.

Warner Wetlands view in the summer

Moody cloudscapes over them in the spring.

Warner Wetlands in Oregon

Snow and ice covering them in the winter.

Lakes in the Warner Valley in winter

Sweeping scenic views of them in the fall.

Warner Wetlands panorama

And you get the drama of Hart Mountain rising above them with its massive presence. This fault-block mountain towers 3,600 feet above the valley floor. Its highest point is atop Warner Peak, elevation 8,024 feet.

Hart Mountain, Oregon

Visiting Warner Wetlands

There are numerous lakes in this 40-mile long wetland and some are seasonal. One of the lakes, Mugwump Lake, varies significantly in its water level. The lake is named after the politically independent and unpredictable mugwumps.

The Warner Wetlands host a wide variety of wildlife, including 42 mammal species and 239 bird species. Fish in the wetlands include crappie, bass, bullhead, and trout. If you’re lucky, you may see an endangered Warner Sucker, a fish that only lives here.

This area doesn’t get a lot of visitors due to its isolation. Visitors can enjoy camping, hiking, OHVing, birdwatching, hunting, and fishing. When water levels are high enough, there’s a canoe trail you can follow in the northern section (see map). You’ll find a short birding trail in the southeast section. There’s also a public site to dig sunstones for free, located several miles northeast of the lakes.

If you’re feeling a little worn out after all your outdoor adventures, check out Hart Mountain Hot Springs Campground on the refuge. There’s a rock structure surrounding a hot spring pool located within the campground. You can find another undeveloped pool in the meadow about 100 yards away. Exactly what you need after a hard day of outdoor recreation!

The Bureau of Land Management manages the Warner Wetlands. Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge is located just to the east of the lakes.

Warner Wetlands map BLM

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Let’s get Wild!

Colorful lichen up close: Macro Monday

Colorful lichens up close

A rainbow of colorful lichen up close. These lichens grow on the rocks in my High Desert yard. Though they are small, they have a big presence

Macro Monday

Following Pronghorn: LAPC & WWP

I’ve been following pronghorn for years. They have much to teach us.

following pronghorn near Great Basin Npk

A restless past

In the distant past, I was always restless, bounding from place to place, relationship to relationship. Once I started sensing my roots taking hold, I would break free, fleeing restraints. I sprinted towards the next place or person. Like an animal being pursued by a predator, I found it easier to run.

Grazing pronghorn buck in Yellowstone

Following Pronghorn

One day I started thinking of pronghorns, those iconic creatures of the Wild West, differently. Maybe I could learn something from them. They are a one-of-a-kind animal, not quite fitting into any family. I felt that way too and I began following pronghorn.

Following pronghorn at Steens Mtn

If pronghorns encounter obstacles, they cannot leap over them, they must find a way under or around them. I honed my skills at getting out of difficult situations. Finding the path is not always easy.

Large pronghorn buck at Yellowstone

Pronghorn’s excellent vision and enormous eyes give them a 320-degree field of vision. I broadened my views and opened my eyes to observe more of the world around me.

Pronghorn herd at Malheur NWR

In parts of their range, pronghorn migrate seasonally, while in other locations, they stay year-round. I migrated from the rain forest to the High Desert where I found a comfortable life. It’s the right habitat for me throughout the year.

Marking pronghorn buck in Yellowstone May 2017

Pronghorns are cautious yet curious. They have come within inches of me, close enough to inhale the scent of their musky perfume. It’s difficult to let your guard down, but it’s okay to let curiosity guide you once in a while.

A herd near Hart Mountain

Though capable of traveling at amazing speeds, pronghorn spend much of their time grazing. I’m not fleet of foot, but I found the pace that works best for me. Fast is not always better.

Lone doe at Yellowstone

In winter, pronghorn live in large herds. At other times of the year, they travel in small groups or alone. Large groups are fine at certain times, but it’s okay to find comfort alone or with just a few.

Rooted in place

Pronghorn settled into High Desert environments best suited for them to survive. They are rooted in the West.

A herd at Hart Mountain

Other restless wanderers blow by me, like tumbleweeds tossed by the wind. I allow my roots to grow through sandy soil and anchor themselves under boulders, dense and volcanic. This is home.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Getting to Know You

Weekend Writing Prompt – Restless

Wildflowers in the Desert – Nonet poem: LAPC & SS

Wildflowers in the desert sunshine
Emerging in harsh conditions
Shining with an inner light
Colorful expressions
Jewels in the sand
Ephemeral
Presences
Fleeting
Views

Wildflowers in the desert photographs taken at Gray Butte, Oregon in the springtime.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Colorful April

Sunday Stills – Emerging

Spring birds: Bird Weekly Photo Challenge

The challenge this week is to show photos of birds seen over the past two weeks. As spring progresses, more and more birds, and tourists, are showing up.

Here’s a California scrub-jay perched on an interpretive sign in Bend, acting like a tourist. They change the flags displayed on this bridge throughout the year. On this day, they happened to match the jay.

Spring birds California scrub-jay

I’ve been seeing this lone swan near the flag bridge for several weeks. It was hard to figure out if it was a tundra swan or the less common trumpeter swan. It finally got within a few feet of me last week. It’s a tundra swan. See the bit of yellow near the eye? They don’t always have the yellow patch, but it’s the best clue.

Tundra swan in Bend, Oregon

For comparison, here’s a trumpeter swan we saw this week at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The skin between the eye and bill is thicker and all black.

Trumpeter swan at Malheur NWR

More Malheur spring birds

We saw lots of birds at Malheur as we traveled along the Center Patrol Road.

There were several hawks hunting over the meadows. Here’s a rough-legged hawk taking off from a willow tree.

Marsh hawk in flight

We saw a few pairs of ring-necked pheasants foraging near the road. They’re not native to Oregon, but they fit right into the basin and range habitat.

Ring-necked pheasant at Malheur NWR

We saw several sandhill cranes, but not as many as I expected to see. These two were showing me their best side and only putting their heads up one at a time.

  • Sandhill cranes at Malheur NWR
  • Sandhill cranes at Malheur NWR

This flooded field, north of Malheur, had several kinds of waterfowl. The pintails in the background decided to show me the feature that gives them their name. There’s also a few mallards in this picture.

Spring birds Pintails & mallards at Malheur NWR

A nearby pond had more species of birds. A graceful great egret took off right when we stopped. There was also a great blue heron foraging nearby.

Great egret Malheur NWR

I was excited to see white pelicans at the pond. They are one of the birds that I have never been able to photograph well. These three look like they’re in a parade with the double-crested cormarants.

White pelicans & double-crested cormorants

The pelicans made themselves right at home with the other birds. You can see a ring-billed gull, double-crested cormorants, a canvasback (with head tucked), a ruddy duck (with head tucked), and an American coot. A smorgasbord!

Spring birds near Malheur NWR

A harbinger of spring

I’m ending this post with a blue-colored bird, just as I started it. This mountain bluebird was perching high in a juniper tree a couple miles from my home. I’ll start looking for the pair that nests on our property. The spring birds are definitely here!

Spring birds - Mountain bluebird near Bend, Oregon

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge – Birds seen in last two weeks

The Lost Forest – A short story: LAPC & SWP

When I was a young child, my grandfather often told me the tale of the Lost Forest. Here is how he told it…

Lost Forest in Oregon

The people of the village disliked them for their beliefs, distrusted them for their appearance, so they fled. The villagers pursued them so they ran faster and faster.

They paused on a faraway hill and sought shelter beneath the sagebrush. The pursuers shouted in the distance. Unsure what to do, they became a part of the environment.

Ponderosa pine bark

One by one, they stood still and extended their arms with palms tilted upward. Long green needles sprouted from their fingertips. Puzzle-like bark crept over their skin. They wiggled their toes and pale white roots snaked their way into the soil. A shudder ran through their bodies and branches poked through their buckskin clothing.

And then they grew. They shed their human form and grew taller and taller.

Lost Forest in Oregon

They continued running, dispersing themselves among the sagebrush. One froze in mid-stride when he turned into a tree.

Bent knee Ponderosa pine

Years passed, and they formed a dense forest, lush and green.

They lived their lives apart from their people, always waiting for their arrival. Aged ones stood until they could stand no longer and then tumbled to the ground.

Standing snag in Oregon
Fallen tree in Oregon

New lives arose from the old. The young ones learned how to thrive in a land with little water.

The old ones told them tales of their former home. They told them the village covered the plains, hills, and mountains. They spoke of loving people, never of those who sowed distrust.

Pine cones

One day a young woman entered the forest. The oldest pines recognized the beaded pattern on her moccasins and cloak. There was something familiar about how her hair was braided. She was family!

The forest trees whispered and a dust devil carried their voices to her. She cupped her ear and nodded.

“I found you at last,” she said.

Others in the village learned of her experience and visited the forest. Some had concerns over their differences, but the forest embraced their kin.

From then on, they called it the Lost Forest. Though their people lived many miles apart, they were united once again.

Lost Forest pine tree

More about the Lost Forest

My recent visit to the Lost Forest Research Natural Area in Central Oregon inspired me to write this story. This isolated stand was once a part of a much larger forest at a time when the climate was cooler and wetter. The 9,000-acre Lost Forest is 40 miles away from the closest ponderosa pine stand.

Only 9 inches of rain falls in a year near the Lost Forest. Most pine trees need twice that much rain in order to grow well. However, in this location, the unique soil structure, combined with groundwater being close to the surface, helps the trees thrive. The pine trees in the Lost Forest are special in another way since their seeds germinate more quickly than other pines. So even though these trees live “alone,” they have survived.

Here’s a general map of the region from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – A Change of Scenery

Sunday Writing Prompt – Lost

Rough & rippling bark: Macro Monday

Close up view of rough & rippling bark of a western juniper tree near Bend, Oregon.

Rough & rippling bark of juniper

Macro Monday

Softness in the skies haiku: LAPC & SS

softness in the skies
adrift over layered tuff ring,
white veils eclipse sun

Skyscapes from Fort Rock, Oregon.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Soft

Sunday Stills – Things that are white

Old one’s last winter haiku: Haiku Prompt Challenge

Old ones last winter

bound by ancient roots
branches sway in desert winds
old one’s last winter

Ronovan Writes Haiku Prompt Challenge – Bound and sway

Favorite songbirds of Central Oregon: Bird Weekly

I have many favorite birds, but today I’m turning my lens towards favorite songbirds that live near me in Central Oregon.

The first bird, is a sage thrasher. Plain of feather, these birds have a lovely melodic song. Thrashers are one of the songbirds of the sagebrush sea that I studied for my graduate work. They are a canary in a coal mine kind of bird.

Favorite songbirds Sage thrasher
Sage thrasher

The second bird is a varied thrush. They look like a robin with a mask, necklace, and checkered wings. I love their haunting song.

Varied thrush
Varied thrush

The third bird is a California scrub jay. These bold birds have expanded their range. They’re entertaining to watch and hear.

Favorite California scrub jay
California scrub jay
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Juniper caught misty moon poem: Monochrome Monday

Juniper caught misty moon on a chill winter night
Struggling to escape, moon gave up on the fight

Juniper caught the misty moon

Scrub jays gathered atop the great tree
Pecking and prodding until moon was set free

scrub jays infrared

Monochrome Monday in infrared

Yew branches up close: Macro Monday

Yew branches August 2020

This yew plant in my garden measured three feet in height for many years. I don’t think it was fond of our High Desert temperature fluctuations. Last year it finally grew taller so now it’s almost five feet tall.

Yesterday I caught one of our resident “landscapers” chewing on the new growth. Guess he thought it needed a trim. 😉

Buck mule deer

Macro Monday

Struck by Lightning – Bye 2020!: TTL

Struck by lightning western juniper tree June 2020
Western juniper tree struck by lightning near Brothers, Oregon

I’m representing my feelings towards 2020 by showing it being struck by lightning. Yes, there were some great moments, but I’m glad to be saying bye to this particular year.

See how all the other western juniper trees around this tree are thriving? Can you see the sliver of blue in the distant sky? Once the dark clouds dissipate, we’ll have a brighter future where more of us can thrive.

Happy New Year!

Thursday Tree Love (TTL)

First dusting of snow: Monochrome Monday

First dusting of snow Redmond, Oregon

The first dusting of snow covered this old shed near Redmond, Oregon. Winter is on its way to the High Desert!

Monochrome Monday

In a High Desert yard: LAPC & Weekly Prompts

Like the rest of you out there, I’ve been spending a lot of time at home. This week I’m featuring photos taken in a High Desert yard near Bend, Oregon.

If your gaze is focused downward lately, look at the elements of earth in a new light. This layer cake rock is interesting in color and form.

Igneous rock boulder 15November2020

As your gaze moves up, notice the textures you may have overlooked. The multilayered bark of juniper trees always catches my attention.

In a high desert yard May 2020
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My cactus in summer: Friday Flowers & Fan of…

Last weekend I took a picture of my cactus covered with snow. This post shows my cactus in summer. Aren’t they pretty? I’m missing their beautiful blossoms already.

My cactus in summer June 2020
Cholla in bloom July 2020
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In the morning light – 4 haiku: LAPC

In the morning light
Fireworks light up the fall sky
Amazement above

In the morning light sunrise October 2020
High desert sunrise

When the day breaks bright
We find our comfortable place
Basking in its warmth

Pixie-bob cat October 2020
Pixie-bob cat
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Backyard birding adventures: BWPC & SS

We have a water feature in our yard so we have lots of backyard birding adventures. This summer I bought a special mount to take digital pictures through my spotting scope. This process is referred to as “digiscoping.” Unfortunately, many of the pictures I first took turned out blurry. I’m having much better luck with my brand new mount.

Here’s a photo of one of our California scrub-jays taken with my Google Pixel phone. Isn’t it a beautiful bird?

backyard birding adventures - scrub-jay near Bend

I used my point-and-shoot Panasonic Lumix camera for this one. It was a little tricky to hold it in place on the mount. This a European starling and an American robin.

Starling & robin

We get tons of robins at this time of the year and they chase other birds away.

American robins
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Brilliance of the Desert: One Word Sunday

Last summer we took a trip to southeastern Oregon where we saw the brilliance of the desert.

Contrasting colors atop 9,733-ft Steens Mountain.

Brilliance of the desert - Steens Mountain August 2019

Colorful soils rounding a bend.

Southeastern Oregon Road

Rabbitbrush in bloom near Big Indian Gorge.

Brilliance of the desert, Big Indian Gorge, Steens Mountain, Oregon 28 August 2019

Mountain mahogany trees growing on a ridgetop.

Mountain mahogany at Steens Mountain

Some think of deserts as dull and boring. However, if you look at things in a different way, you’ll witness the brilliance of the desert.

One Word Sunday – Bright

Focus on the form of cactus: LAPC

The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is Symmetry. I decided to focus on the form of cactus in my garden by showing them in infrared. It highlights their prickly symmetry well.

Focus on the form of cactus in infrared 1October2020
Close up of cholla cactus infrared 1October2020
Cholla cactus fruit up close 1October2020
Prickly pear cactus in infrared 1October2020
Focus on the form of catus - Prickly pear fruit 1October2020

To see some of these cactus blooming in brilliant colors, see Prickly and pretty.

Shooting stars up close: Macro Monday

Shooting stars up close

Shooting stars up close. Wildflowers blooming on Glass Buttes in the High Desert of Oregon.

Macro Monday

High Desert Mural: LAPC & Monday Mural

High Desert Mural Siobhan Sullivan 17 August 2020

I have been busy filling up space and time by creating a High Desert mural. I recently posted more details on creating my Outdoor Pronghorn Painting. This weekend I added three additional paintings to the mural.

Outdoor pronghorn painting by Siobhan Sullivan August 2020
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Ice plants up close: Macro Monday

Ice plants up close near Bend, Oregon July 2020

Here’s a photo of ice plants up close from my garden near Bend, Oregon. I always look forward to seeing their bright, long lasting blooms.

Macro Monday

All about Purple sage: Friday Flowers

Purple sage and Indian paintbrush  at Gray Butte, Oregon May 2016

     You may have heard of this plant referred to in the classic western, Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey. But did you know purple sage is not actually in the sagebrush family? It’s a type of sage in the mint family, Lamiaceae, and one of its common names is “mint sage.” If you crush the leaves in your hand you’ll be able to tell why.

     I’ve seen purple sage, Salvia dorrii, in various high desert locations in eastern Oregon. Gray Butte, just northeast of Smith Rock, is a great place to see this native shrub in full bloom.

Wildflowers at Gray Butte May 2016
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