Nature Observer – July 2019

Experiencing a different sort of weather pattern this year and the absence of the neighborhood cattle has created a bumper crop of tall grass and wildflowers in the pasture behind our house.  We’ve gone out wading in the thigh high grasses to look for wildflowers along the riverbank.

wildflower bouquet july 2019

I told my daughter that she could only pick the flowers she knew the names of and this is what she ended up with. I think the only one she had me tell her the name of was the checker mallow.

As the summer continues, the list of things observed in and around our house becomes longer and longer. I have a list of birds and wildflowers we have yet to identify and I actually think I should make a nature journal page that keeps track of these mystery items.

St Johns wort wildflower july 2019

I oftentimes will see a flower and not be able to figure out its name right away, especially little yellow flowers, or LYF’s as I’ve learned many people refer to them. I’ve spotted many a LYF over the years and not bothered to look it up in my book.  Unidentified flowers are one thing and unidentified birds are another.

Kayak hosmer lake july 2019

I was obsessed with figuring out what a particular bird was that we saw soaring over the lake and then diving in to catch fish. It wasn’t an osprey or any other bird we’ve seen before. My daughter and I took turns paging through the bird field guides and using the online tools at eBird and WhatBird to try to pin down the name but without success. I tried looking online and searching for the bird by its description and then BINGO, we found it! It is a Caspian tern. We had never even heard of it before. Here’s what it looks like:

It’s a good feeling to finally nail down the bird’s identification after being so frustrated.

July 2019 fall river

I’ve been anticipating a hike at Fall River to see the abundance of wildflowers and to enjoy the crystal clear water.  The added excitement on this hike was the appearance of 2 kingfishers flying up the river in the evening light. Their distinctive mechanical ticking sound alerted us to their presence and we were rewarded with a very close fly by.

tokatee falls july 2019

We were encouraged by some friends to take a short drive over to Hwy 138, Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, to see all the waterfalls. We were able to visit four waterfalls in one day! Two were very close to their parking lots but two of them we had to hike a short way to see. Each waterfall was so different! My favorite one was Tokatee Falls with its cascading pools and aqua blue water at the bottom.  The other falls we viewed were: Clearwater Falls, Horsetail Falls, and Watson Falls.

sea star newport beach july 2019

We took a few days to go camping over on the Oregon Coast at Newport. It was such a refreshing break to hear and see and experience the ocean again. I always forget how much I love being at the shore. My daughter was with us and I didn’t realize she had never seen a sea star “in the wild”. We had to remedy that and were blessed to have found a few at the beach where we were staying and then again in several places where we went tide pooling. We made some great memories on this trip and I’m making a mental note that I need to get to the ocean at least once a year from now on

Now for a couple of pages from my nature journal.

spring willow tree nature journal july 2019

I finally created a spring willow observations page in my nature journal using photos as a reference. I did a little research to discover just what kind of willow we have growing behind our house and I determined that it’s a Scouler’s willow.

western tanager nature journal july 2019

We had a week in May where there were many western tanagers at our feeders and in our yard. I created a page that celebrates their visit, including facts and our notes from the experience.

nature journal wildflower july 2019

In my ongoing project to document all the wildflowers on our own property, I made a page to put down a quick sketch and few notes on the goose-foot violet and shepherd’s purse.  (I feel like I’m just scratching the surface on this project but am determined to keep it up over time.)


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All members here on the Handbook of Nature Study have access to the 2019-2020 nature plan for the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Look for it in your library. I’ll be posting the nature planning pages in the libraries soon!

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Use the discount code SUMMER5 for $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist Membership. This will give you access to all of the ebooks, newsletters, and printables available only to members. Your membership is good for one year from the time of purchase. Don’t wait until September to purchase your membership!



  1. Hi Barb! I’m a long time reader, and I love your material. It’s very inspiring – what a huge body of work!

    I think the yellow flower you don’t know the name of is St. John’s Wort. (Not positive – hard to tell from the picture.) One way to tell is to crush a blossom between your fingers – if you have a red stain there, it’s probably St. J’s.

    St. John’s Wort is in bloom where I live in Vermont right now. By coincidence, I plan to harvest flowers today to make an oil (by covering a jar of flowers in olive oil, then letting it sit for a few weeks). This resulting red oil is AMAZING for first degree burns, including kitchen burns and sunburn – it prevents blisters and speeds healing – and also for massaging sore feet. A bit greasy, but very effective.

    It’s nice to see you enjoying your new environment and getting to know all the plants and animals in the area. Keep having fun! All the best – Diana

    • Barb McCoy says:

      I think you are right! It is so pretty right now and is quite abundant. I enjoyed learning what you can use it for! Thanks for being a loyal reader…so happy to hear from you.

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