Archivos de diario de mayo 2012

01 de mayo de 2012

Medicinal Herb Garden 4/9/12

Coordinates: Lat: 47.65277
Lon: -122.30917

Weather: 50-55 degrees F and very muggy. Completely overcast but without the slightest precipitation.

12noon -- I'm sitting on the grass next to a 2m tall Evergreen Huckleberry hedge (Vaccinium Ovatum), buzzing with big fat bumble bees. The end of the medicinal herb garden is a small circular grass area with a man-made pond in the middle, grown over with water plants. Though the garden has certainly been planted with various species from all of the world, the surrounding area has a concentration of native plants. This grassy area is also surrounded by a number of tall conifers, making the space feel enclosed with an over story. Small wild-ish areas like this provide a home for many birds on campus, even though it may be "artificial" the space feels inhabited by animals, birds and insects. I hear 6 or 7 separate bird calls that I struggle to identify. I am certain that I hear an American Robin's multi-toned song and of course the piercing caws of crows. But the other little cheeps are indistinguishable to me, and so difficult to describe!
Two mallards swim in the water, eyeing me when I move and nibbling the algae along the waterside. After I've been seated long enough (perhaps 25 minutes) they are brave enough to approach me and walk within three feet of my sit spot to reach the upper pool. After a bit of awkward struggle, both birds make it into the slightly larger upper pool and make a ruckus of bathing, splashing everywhere before stepping out to tuck their beaks under their wings - to nap?
Other birds come down to dip in the water and drink. On a hot day like today the water seems especially precious. The longer I sit, the more birds that come down, risking a few moments of exposure. When they are in view it is easier for me to get a hold of their calls, though I still can't begin to describe them!

Species List: Not including labeled med. herb garden plants
Western Flowering Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii)
Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)

Evergreen Huckleberry (Vaccinum ovatum)
Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanum)
False Solomon's Seal (Smilacina racemosa)
Salal (Gaultheria shallon)

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)

Publicado el mayo 1, 2012 05:14 MAÑANA por jesscubb jesscubb | 6 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Burke Gilman Trail 4/16/12

Coordinates: Lat. 47.65298
Lon. -122.32842

Weather: Strong south western winds and therefore swiftly moving clouds, but nearly full sun. 50 degrees F or so.

2:30pm-- The Burke Gilman trail (between 35th and 36th) is lined on the west side with a raised planted section above a sort of rock wall. The section appears to have been planted with native plants, mostly large shrubs probably meant to be hardy and prevent erosion onto the path. Other plants have of course snuck in. The ground is covered in wood-chips, perhaps to insulate the soil? Many birds are making noise in the trees lining the path, and picking about among the shrubs. I am first drawn to pull over my bike next to a number of larger (.5m tall) shrubs that I can't identify at bike-speed. They appear evergreen, with thick waxy leaves and short woody stems. Every shrub has one or two flowers- bunched and blue, but they don't appear at all new. Maybe left even from last year? It appears that the shrubs higher on the hill have more flowers, perhaps they receive more light?
The leaves are composed of 3 prominent veins, only about 2 cm long and 1cm wide at the center.
Beneath and around the shrubs grows dull oregon grape (Mahonia nervosa) and a number of small leaves that look not unlike parsley! Small and a very light green with slightly red tips. (See physical journal for drawing). I was completely unable to identify these little flowers until about 10m down the path I came upon a flower! A perfect bright orange poppy.
As I look down I notice many ladybugs sunning themselves on the black rocks lining the trail. They appear totally still- why would a ladybug want sun like this? Each appears to have 7 black spots- as I near them with my camera they scurry, but not all that quickly. It seems like a predator (birds??) could easily snag one. There are at least 20 ladybugs in a 2-3m area. Also little spiders crawl around on the rocks. A tiny black and white jumping spider captures my attention.

Publicado el mayo 1, 2012 05:35 MAÑANA por jesscubb jesscubb | 7 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

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 el mayo 1, 2012 05:29 TARDE por jesscubb jesscubb | 7 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario