Volume 14, September 1948
All material courtesy of the National Park Service.These publications can also be found at http://npshistory.com/
Nature Notes is produced by the National Park Service. © 1948
It was Sunday afternoon in August, and Sinnott Memorial was full almost to the parapet. The lecturer had finished his discussion of the cycles of eruption and quiet. Trying to stir the interest of his audience, he started speculation on the possibilities of renewed volcanic activity. To ease any fears which they might have about the mountain exploding under their feet, he mentioned that any major eruption would undoubtedly be preceded by loud rumblings and at least some vibration of the earth. At this moment a tremendous roar struck the intent faces of his listeners. It was a full five seconds before the taut, fearful expectancy was broken by a nervous laugh. One by one visitors resumed breathing as they caught sight of the first jet planes to buzz Crater Lake disappearing over Llao Rock.
Unusual Plant Fare
Denis Illige, Ranger-Naturalist
A trip afield on a day off from the normal duties of a ranger-naturalist is often full of surprises. While on a trip to Copeland Creek with Ranger-Naturalist D. S. Farner and Ranger Glenn Brady, “to see what we could see”, a brief stop was made in a wet meadow above the headwaters of Copeland Creek. The purpose of this particular stop being to investigate the frog population, each of us went a different direction, cautiously moving along, carefully investigating the marshy areas for frogs. While so occupied, a small moth was seen entangled in the swamp grass, struggling vigorously. This being an unnatural place for a moth, closer scrutiny disclosed that it was trapped by that plant nemesis of inset life, a carnivorous plant, this one known as Sundew.
Plant life in general is characterized by a relatively mild attitude toward most animal life, particularly in respect to capturing and devouring animals. However, there are a few exceptions, Sundew or Drosera being one found in Oregon. The moth that led to the discovery of Sundew in Crater Lake National Park was entangled by the sticky “fingers” of a Sundew. These “fingers” are small hair-like projections from the leaf-blade of this plant. From the ends of these hairs is exuded a clear, neutral, sticky fluid. When a luckless insect brushes against the sticky hairs, he is indeed fortunate if he is large, or strong, enough not to be caught. Usually in the struggles of a hapless insect, he only succeeds in making matters worse for himself by agitated struggling, more contacts being made at each spasm of movement.
When the insect is solidly within the grasp of the Sundew, the leaf folds in toward its center, the sticky fluid becoming more acid, changing to a proteinaceous ferment capable of digesting the insect tissues. The digested tissues are then absorbed by the Sundew for some of its nutritional needs.
This is the first authentic record of Sundew in Crater Lake National Park. It had been reported by F. Lyle Wynd, but the specimens were note located nor the locality of the collection recorded.
E. I. Applegate, in all of his extensive collecting, did not discover it either. The area from which the present collection was made was from a patch of about 200 square feet in size, on a boggy side hill with a western exposure. The area is exposed to brilliant sunlight for most of the day. The elevation was determined from a map as about 5600 feet above sea level.
The origins of both the common name, Sundew, and the scientific name, Drosera rotundifolia, are of interest because of their aptness. The plant habitually grows in open, well-lighted places, and the clear, sticky fluid exuded at the end of the leaf hairs sparkles in the bright sunlight as do drops of dew on other plants. The scientific nameDrosera is of Greek origin, meaning dewy, while rotundifolia refers to the rounded shape of the leaves.
Ornithological Notes of Interest
Thus far this summer (August 10, 1948) there has been only a single Cormorant reported from Crater Lake. On August 7, 1948, one was seen in flight near Cloudcap, apparently from the surface of the lake. Mr. Paul Herron, who operates the launch in a daily trip around the lake, had not seen Cormorants previously this year. No Cormorants were seen on Crater Lake in 1946. According to Mr. Herron and Dr. Ruth Hopson, there were none during the summer of 1947. This is in striking contrast to the summers of 1939, 1940, and 1941 when daily a group of ten or more of these fish eaters could be seen on the Phantom Ship. It is of interest to note that in 1939, 1940 and 1941 fish were abundant in Crater Lake, whereas in 1946, 1947 and 1947 fish were relatively scarce and fishing was poor.
Rare in the park, a white egret was seen stalking a quiet pool in Annie Creek near the South Entrance on August 31, 1947, while a blue heron was observed winging its way down the middle fork of Annie Creek the following day.
Although the Western Crow quite likely appears from time to time within the limits of the park, there seems to be no actual record of such up to this time. On June 24, 1948, one was seen in flight over Munson meadows, and on July 2, 1948 two more were seen, one along Annie Creek Canyon about two miles below Annie Spring and another along the highway between Annie Spring and Park Headquarters. In view of the fact that crows and ravens rarely occur commonly together in an area, and that ravens are relatively common, the sparsity of crows in the park is understandable.
On November 30, 1947, four feet of snow covered the ground at Park Headquarters. It was cupped to the ground around the bases of trees near the Administration Building. From the depths of one of these issued a familiar, though unexpected, note of high pitch. And then, seemingly quite at home in a red fir in spite of the cold, appeared a little Sierra creeper. These birds reside in fir forests in the park in summer and are known to winter around Fort Klamath but this appears to be the only winter record inside the park.