Union Bay Natural Area 4/23/12

Coordinates: Lat. 47.65543
Lon. -122.29435

Weather: 65 degrees F and sunny! Only whispy clouds low on the horizon, and a strong breeze.

6pm-- I'm here just to wander today and enjoy the sun. The UBNA is a wetland meadow with tall grasses and shrubs surrounded by a few stands of deciduous trees. The central part of the meadow is 80% tallgrass with dispersed Large-Leaved Lupin (Lupinus polyphyllus) and what appears to be dried fennel stalks. Why do meadows like this form as opposed to forests? Just because it is too wet for other things to grow? I know that lupin are nitrogen fixers, meaning they are capable of growing in less nutrient rich soils, perhaps that's the case with this meadow? There are also a number of large ponds in this natural area that are inhabited by a wide variety of water fowl.
The meadow is considerably drier today than the last time I was here with class on April 12, the lupin don't have large water droplets as I photographed that day. There are so many birds, as usual, but today they seem to be making a particularly loud ruckus! The tall shrubs near the ponds sound especially alive, quivering with all of the movement of those spring-charged birds. The Red-Winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) seem the rowdiest of all, aggressively attacking the air with their calls. Once again I have trouble trying to describe their call even though I have finally come to recognize it. It sounds two-toned, and almost metallic- easily distinguished from that of other birds. Many sparrows (swallows?) swoop over the meadow as well, always scooping upward afterward and displaying their shape against the sky. Catching bugs?
Crows seem to bully the other birds around and make an unbelievable cacophony from their high tree perches. I wonder whether or not they eat smaller birds. Why travel in such large groups? They are almost frightening, I can see why someone would devise a horror film about them..
The waterfowl appear mostly paired as they float along the lake. I see a few Buffleheads(Bucephala albeola), many Mallards and a Great Blue Heron on a mission through the sky. They squawk with such an awkward and loud force.
A few Black Cottonwoods (Populus trichocarpa) by the water are SO HUGE. I wonder how old they are! Peering up into their giant green dappled branches sends dreams of elaborate tree houses zooming through my head.
Everything is 1,000 shades of green, I wish there were a place to simply post photos of the meadow as opposed to the specific species--it sure was beautiful today.

Publicado por jesscubb jesscubb, 01 de mayo de 2012

Observaciones

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Gorrión Corona Blanca (Zonotrichia leucophrys)

Observ.

jesscubb

Fecha

Abril 23, 2012

Descripción

These white-crowned sparrows were hopping about in a little grassy area just above the Burke-Gilman, I passed them on my way to the UBNA. Unfortunately I don't have a GPS reading for the precise spot.
They seemed to be eating something in the grass, but hopped up into this blackberry bramble when I got close.

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Mirlo Primavera (Turdus migratorius)

Observ.

jesscubb

Fecha

Abril 23, 2012

Descripción

I heard this one's song before I looked up and saw him in the tree, sitting and singing with such a force! So often we see robins hopping around on the ground, eating worms and perhaps collecting nest material, but today all the robins I saw were perched in the trees, singing to each other!

Fotos / Sonidos

Observ.

jesscubb

Fecha

Abril 23, 2012

Descripción

I found this plant alongside the path through the UBNA as it gets close to the Urban Horticulture Center and gets a little bit marshy. Although the plant has no flowers as of now, I never forget those fuzzy leaves having once been told that thimble berry is also known as "toilet-paper of the forest." This particular plant was young, only about .5m tall.

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Pato Monja (Bucephala albeola)

Observ.

jesscubb

Fecha

Abril 23, 2012

Descripción

I think that these are buffleheads.. They were swimming in pairs along the waterside at the UBNA. Every time I stopped to capture a photo of them, the male would submerge himself completely underwater and re-emerge only in time for the female to submerge herself. Finally I caught one with them both out of the water!

Fotos / Sonidos

Observ.

jesscubb

Fecha

Abril 23, 2012

Descripción

Many of these willows grow at varying heights and sizes right next to the ponds at the UBNA. The roots are submerged in marshy-mud. I only know to identify this as willow by the yellow bark, but am not sure of the variety. Some of the larger ones- more like trees, were adorned with these puffy catkins all along the branches!

Fotos / Sonidos

Observ.

jesscubb

Fecha

Abril 23, 2012

Descripción

There is truly a forest of this horsetail in the low section of the UBNA just outside the Urban Horticulture Center. I am not totally sure which species this is, but the large cone-like tip looked the most like Giant Horsetail. These stems, topped with the cone-like structure, grow just next to a lot of horse tail that might be describes as leafy, it has little leaves/spikes actually emerging in circles around the stem. Are these two types one species of horse-tail at different stages? Or two species? Or a male and female of the same species?

Fotos / Sonidos

Observ.

jesscubb

Fecha

Abril 23, 2012

Descripción

This was one among maybe 30 tufts of lichen growing on a leaf-less deciduous tree. Many other varieties were also taking over the branches of this small tree that may have been dead!

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