June 12th, 9 am.

Another wonderful spring day and I am walking in an area we call Plasma. The valley oak woodland is vibrant and full of life. Birds, bees. and all kinds of insects are humming loudly and singing. I hear baby birds sounding hungry, their cries sometimes soft and sometimes loud and demanding. This helps me find where different birds have nests hidden by lichen and leaves. I walk into the interior of this forest towards bright orange globes I can see from afar. These are the gorgeous Leopard Lilies, Lilium pardilinum, These are the heralds of early June in our area, but in the high mountains, they bloom in July filling all the creek ravines. These are an unusual sight in this deep woodland, away from a creekside. The deep orange color with red spots gives this flower its leopard name. I enjoy observing the way the pendulous buds slowly open petal by petal. It is a feast for the eyes. The Cow parsnip, Heracleum lanatum, is in spectacular bloom beyond this stand of lilies and I watch as the butterflies and different kinds of bees visit them.

This oak woodland is surrounded by grassland and a small wetland area which has dried out but still teems with dragonflies that are flying everywhere. As I walk out into the field through the gate another group of curious cows greets me, they stand and stare, trying to decide if I have anything of interest to them. After about 10 minutes they resume their slow walk towards the shady forested area.

Later I head for the Berry Creek area to try again to get a photo of a singing Swanson’s Thrush, Catharus ustulatus. It is a secretive bird with a hauntingly ethereal song. As I go through the gate at Berry Creek, I begin to hear not just one thrush singing but several are singing! This is a good sign and I begin trying to find this elusive bird. It is my lucky day because a Swainson’s Thrush pops out of the thick riparian forest of Ash trees and sits out in the open! I begin to snap photos and it begins to sing with all of its heart and body. I stop to take it in. It is such an amazing song! The song goes on for many minutes, joined by others down the Ash tree corridor. The song of the Swainson’s thrush is a wondrous combination of flute-like ascending notes that fills me with joy The day is complete and perfect.

It is just another day in paradise.