Archivos de diario de abril 2012

30 de abril de 2012

Pack Forest 3/31/12

Coordinates: Lat. 46.8389367746
Lon. -122.2951426191

Weather: 40 degrees F. Despite completely overcast skies, it is not raining. The threat looms, but we stay dry for the entirety of our time outside. In the forest there is no wind.

First walk: approx. 11am-12pm--
Pack forest is easily distinguishable as a second growth forest dominated by tall and skinny Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). The trees are mostly uniform, indicating that they all probably were planted or began growing around the same time. Thanks to the trees' incredible height and the concentration of their branches at the very tops of the trunks, there is quite a bit of light that streams onto the forest floor. The forest, especially the area closest to the cabins feels split--the canopy is very high and the forest floor is springing into life with new green buds, while the middle (eye-level) is comparatively empty. Is this characteristic of a young forest? Many of the eye-level deciduous shrubs have yet to leaf out, except for the Indian Plum (Oemleria) which is the main contributor to the soft/bright green color of the forest. Little leaves are really exploding out of the Indian Plum branches and many white drooping flowers accompany these leaves, though not on all the plants.
As we continue slightly deeper into the forest ,the floor becomes very damp, actually run over with tiny streams of water that turn the earth to mud. In this section the trees are predominately Red Alders (Alnus rubra). There are many fallen trees, perhaps left from the winter's harsh winds and snow. It could be that the ground is too soggy here to support the roots. Why is it that alders grow in marshy areas like this as opposed to conifers? Does it have to do with the nutrient-content of the soil?
Some of the downed trees (especially conifers) display 3m tall root balls that are covered in plants growing up and around them. We learn that winter wrens often build nests in such root balls, and indeed after I stare at one for a few minutes and tiny brown bird emerges from a whole at the bottom, bouncing off into the ferns surrounding the root ball. Winter wrens have a very impressive song, consisting of over 200 notes!
The tiny streams are lined by Fringe Cups (Tellima grandiflora).

Second Walk: approx. 1-2:30pm--
I should note that the lichen here is impossible to ignore. It truly takes over the forest, I have many photographs displaying the many-colored shag the trees are wearing. In other forests, perhaps at lower altitudes, I have noticed huge quantities of moss, but here it is particularly lichen that grabs the attention. During this walk, we follow an old logging road that starts next to a field and continues back to meet up with the forest path from our previous walk. The road is lined with an alder stand, but once again many of the trees and their long branches have been downed, creating a jungle of low, lichen-covered branches. The ground is thickly covered in decomposing leaves with small shoots of delicate green emerging every few centimeters. Rustling among the leaves, we find a Long-Tailed vole with tiny black beads for eyes. It hardly notices our presence even as we lean in with our cameras to photograph it. It appears to be chewing on a few leaves, including Fringe Cup, and doesn't run away until he comes in contact with my knee and shuffles away into the underbrush.

Species List:

Trees--
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
Red Alder (Alnus rubra)
Big-leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum)

Shrubs--
Indian Plum/Osa Berry (Oemleria cerasiformis)
Scot's Broom (Cytisus scoparius)
Red Currant (Ribes sanguineum)
Snow Berry (Symphoricarpos albus)
Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus discolor)
Salmon Berry (Rubus spectabilils)
Trailing Blackberry (Rubus ursinus)
Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum)
Oregon Grape (Mahonia nervosa and Berberis aquifolium)
Salal (Gaultheria shallon)

Ground covering plants--
Fringe Cups (Tellima grandiflora)
Woodland Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)
Licorice Fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza)
Horse Tail (Equisetum hyemale)
Herb Robert/Stinky Bob (Geranium robertianum)
Sweet Colt's Foot (Petasites frigidus)

Fungi--
Early Morel (Verpa bohemica)

Vertebrates--
Long-tailed Vole (Microtus longicaudus
American Robin (Turdus Migratorius)

Ingresado el 30 de abril de 2012 por jesscubb jesscubb | 9 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Mt. Rainier Ntl Park -- Longmire 3/31/12

Coordinates: Lat: 46.7498311
Lon: -121.8389367746

Weather: Clear skies and full sun! Approximately 38 degrees F and no notable wind.

3pm-- Snow covers the ground, perhaps 2-3 ft in most places, leaving the undergrowth almost invisible and putting the trees on display. Here the conifers are tall, thick, and very widely spaced --all signs of an old growth forest, at least 175 years old.
Most striking is the Longmire meadow, a wide expanse of red/orange mud, water and low shrubs that has no tall growth and no snow at all! Upon slightly closer inspection, one can see that the water is bubbling, as if boiling straight up from the earth. I marvel at the strangeness of a volcano... The organey red ground looks painted and emits a slightly sulfurous smell.
The meadow/hotspring? is surrounded by old growth forest, for once Douglas-fir isn't quite as obviously dominate, Cedars (Western Red: Thuja plicata and Yellow: Thuja occidentalis) and Hemlocks (Western: Tsuga heterophylla and Mountain: Tsuga metensiana) play a big role here. We find a small Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia), identifiable by its flat pointy needles that are soft and the red, peely bark. Many of the hemlocks are quite small, growing primarily out of felled trees. They need the nutrients provided by decaying material and don't mind the shade of a thick overstory-- hence hemlocks being named a "climax species" of the PNW. We also see a large Pacific Silver Fir (Abies amabilis). When they are really really tall (i.e. so tall that their branches are too high to inspect) Silver firs are still distinguishable from Dougs by their smoother bark, not as deeply furrowed as the Doug's.
The few small plants that are visible now with all the snow are very near streams because it is here that the snow has been pushed away. Next to such streams we find deer fern (Blechnum spicant) smooshed by the weight of snow.

Species List:
Trees--
Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga mensiesii)
Pacific Silver Fir (Abies amabilis)
Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)
Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)
Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia)

Shrubs--
Kinnickinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
Oregon Grape (Mahonia nervosa)
Deer Fern (Blechnum spicant)
Salal (Gaultheria shallon)

Lichen--
Tree Lungwort (Lobaria pulmonaria)
Lipstick Cladonia (Cladonia macilenta)

Jelly Fungi (Dacrymyces ovisporus)

Ingresado el 30 de abril de 2012 por jesscubb jesscubb | 6 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Mee-Kwa-Mooks Beach 4/7/12

Coordinates: Lat: 47.56465
Lon: -122.40846

Weather: Very sunny with a completely cloudless sky, but strong winds bring the temp. way down and ruffle the surface of the water.

11:30am -- The tide is very low, and for the first 1.5 hours it is on its way out (at 12:30pm it turns). The beach is perhaps 100m wide from the water to the barge/wall. The upper 20-30m is quite dry, but still decorated with barnacles and crispified seaweed, indications that the tide was at least once covering it entirely- perhaps up to 3m up the wall. The beach is rocky and very dark, the ground looks almost black from above. Perhaps this is a result of an active tide, i.e. lack of sunbleach? Rocks vary from tiny to 16x16cm or so, with one sandy patch of about 50 square meters and one patch with larger boulders. In the intertidal zone (the lowest 20m or so of the beach) there is 5-6cm of water, slightly undulating with the tide.
A large flock of Brant Geese (Branta bernicla) float right along the water line, not coming onto the beach nor floating far out. They feed on eel grass, keeping the close to the shallowest bit of the shoreline. What beautiful birds! And what a long journey they make along the coast of the entire Pacific, spending a great amount of their time in the arctic where they have very little contact with humans. Perhaps it is as a result of their lack of much human contact that they remain quite wild birds- easily disturbed by humans and dogs.
The inter-tidal zone is delicate! Each creature accustomed to life under water (where most inter-tidal creatures breathe and feed) is stressed when exposed to air, sun and a host of new predators. While the inter-tidal zone appears mooshy and bleak, a closer look reveals SO MUCH! Many many creatures call the dense eel grass home, so we try to step in it, but even the sandy spots between the grass are packed with anemone and clam siphons. Barnacles cover all- giving everything a spikey, crunchy exterior. A plethora of seaweed types cover the ground, and we see eggs everywhere, some just floating and some connected to rock or bits of seaweed. The tide seems rich and fertile, not unlike the forest in spring. All of these blind creatures are able to sense and react to each other. But how in the world?? I am told that when a Sunflower Sea-star (Pycnopodia helianthoides) enters a tide pool everything else "runs" away--how do they know that it is a predator without eyes or any other senses that we can comprehend?

Species List:
Birds--
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Brant Geese (Branta bernicla)

Molluscs--
Horse Gaper Clam (Tresus Capax)
Dog Whelk (Nucella lapillus)
Rough Keyhole Limpet (Diodora aspera)
Mussels (Genus: Bathymodiolus)
Cockells (??)
Merten's Chiton (Lepidozona mertensii)
Sand Dollars (Order: Clypeasteroida)

Dungeoness Crab (Metacarcinus magister)
Purple/Ochre Sea-star (Pisaster ochraceus)
Sunflower Sea-star (Pycnopodia helianthoides)
Christmas Anemone (Urticina crassicornis)
Sea Lemon Nudibranch (Anisdoris Nobilis )

Plants--
Eel Grass (Genus: Zostera)
Iridescent Seaweed (Mazzaella splendens)

Ingresado el 30 de abril de 2012 por jesscubb jesscubb | 5 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

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