Balsamorhiza sagittata “Arrowleaf Balsamroot” Asteraceae

Tobacco Root Mountains, MT
June 3, 2016
Robert Niese

I recently acquired a new phone with a decent camera! This was especially fortuitous last week when I managed to accidentally stumble upon this huge late bloom of balsamroot without my DSLR handy. These hillsides were still completely blanketed in blooming B. sagittata, while Missoula’s hillsides have all faded in the past few weeks. And for the record, this phone camera has more megapixels than my first DSLR… Weird.


Blue and violet wildflowers in-bloom in the first week of June

(from top-to-bottom, left-to-right: Penstemon sp., Mertensia longiflora,Delphinium bicolor, Lupinus sericeus, Viola adunca, Linum lewisii, Mertensia paniculata)

Lolo National Forest, MT
June 2014, 2015, 2016
Robert Niese

I finally have an instagram with loads of not-so-sciencey nature and personal content! Feel free to drop by and peak into the life of a nerdy natural historian!


Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Ardeidae

May 6, 2012
Tacoma, WA
Robert Niese

GBHs are master predators. I’ve watched these creatures consume everything from fish and insects to frogs, snakes, and rodents the size of small dogs! They also have a terrifying, rattling, squawk that never fails to make me jump out of my skin whenever I stumble upon an unsuspecting individual while I’m creeping around docks at night (looking for cool nighttime marine invertebrates, of course!). They truly are dinosaurs.

Erythronium montanum “Avalanche Lily” Liliaceae

Mount Rainier National Park, WA
August 4, 2012
Robert Niese

Avalanche Lilies are some of the first montane flowers to bloom in the PNW. As soon as the snow begins to melt, these guys are sprouting and preparing for the brief alpine summer. E. montanum is endemic to the Pacific Northwest and is only found in alpine and subalpine regions of the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges.