Tag Archives: Lichen

MT Naturalist – Journal Assignment # 1

For my first journal assignment for the Montana Master Naturalist Course, I hiked to the top of the rimrocks in Phipps Park. Along the way I had to pause to take pictures of the phlox (top left) and a parsley plant of some sort (top right).

The assignment was to create a “Sound and Senses Map” and to begin by sketching a map of your location. The next photo is picture of what I could see once I found a good rock to use as a seat. The trail up the rims can be seen in the lower right center.

The next instruction: Listen for 10 – 15 minutes, “recording sounds around you as you hear them. Find creative ways to show the sounds, using symbols and diagrams along with words and sketches.” I used a simple musical eighth note for every bird sound, the letter “z” for every insect sound, and a badly drawn airplane for airplane sounds.

After listening, we were to document four things we could see, three things we could touch, two things we could smell, and one thing we could taste. Once I’d done the written assignment, I pulled my camera out.

I was – and am – amazed by the colors and textures of the lichen on the rock (below).

To my left was a little fuzzy plant that I still haven’t identified and to my right was a very prickly bush which on a subsequent visit had tiny yellow flowers that suggest it is a skunkbush.

The picture below shows where I was sitting. The tree in the center of the picture is a ponderosa pine and the one on the right is a juniper (not a cedar – I learned it’s often called a cedar but there are no true cedars in this part of Montana).

The next two photos are of the things I could smell: juniper (not cedar) and sagebrush. One of my favorite things about where I live is the smell of sagebrush on a summer morning.

The rest of these pictures were taken on my hike down to the parking lot: ponderosa pine cone, wax currant leaves, juniper berries on branch, prickly pear cactus, and a yucca with last year’s pods still on some stems.

I have been back to Phipps with camera in hand at least three more times in the last few weeks. Spring wildflowers are out and will get a blogpost of their own.

Montana Naturalist

I knew I’d been ignoring my blog – but I didn’t realize the last post was in January! I did take some winter pictures but nothing particularly interesting came of them.

The Montana Audubon Center here in Billings is offering a Montana Master Naturalist course. The stated purpose is “to develop the knowledge, skills, and habits to forge a closer relationship with the natural world.” Deciding it might be fun to meet others and to learn more about the geography, plants and creatures of the area, I signed up.

One of the requirements is to keep a naturalist journal with the recommendation to visit the same outdoor location repeatedly. Since Phipps Park is just up the road from my home, I scoped it out before the class started. All photos in this post were taken that afternoon in mid-April.