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It's About Time - August 2013

Cascades Frog, Rana Cascadae

This must be nature’s designation of the Year of the Nut. Filbert trees all around town have an abundance of swelling husks. When growing close to the curb, nuts are being knocked off their branches by passing trucks and smashed on the street by subsequent traffic. Squirrels and crows leap out onto the street to snatch up the soft, as yet unripe, meat of the seed inside, what we call a nut. Walnuts are also showing a major crop, especially the Turkish walnuts, in abandoned orchards and back yards. This means lots of little walnut seedlings in flower beds next spring, planted by squirrels this fall.

 Mountain meadows are full of wildflowers and butterflies. Butterflies are as fun to watch with binoculars as birds. It’s important to use binocs that focus up close, so their beauty can be fully appreciated.

The dry spring seems to be holding the mosquito level down in mountain meadows. The rapidly shrinking ponds have tadpoles with legs. They need to metamorphose quickly or perish!

Where there are permanent streamlets in high mountains fed by cold water springs, one may see native frogs in the quiet pools. Most common is the Cascades frog. It is not a rare species but recently observed declining numbers are a cause for concern. Two sources of the decline are suspected. One is increased UV radiation from the sun. The other is the spread of parasites by trout planted in high mountain lakes. Effects of global warming are yet unknown.