Archivos de diario de junio 2012

01 de junio de 2012

Discovery Park: Full Moon Trek 5/5/12

Location: Beginning at the Discovery Park visitor's center.
Coordinates: lat. 47.658508
long. -122.405891
Weather: Partially cloudy sky, 45 degrees F. The day was warm, but as soon as the sun has gone down the air regains a chill bite. Luckily, there is not the least bit of precipitation!

8:30pm-- I am here tonight to co-lead a public night-trek through the park. The focus of the trek is to explore and practice some of the technique that animals use to navigate the night, as well as check out the moon. Tonight is the SUPERMOON! Meaning that the moon is at its closest point (on its elliptical path) to the Earth. It is rare that the full moon coincides with the moon being so close to the Earth- only occurring about every 7 years.
We start out the tour inside, looking at some mounts and talkingabout certain animals' night advantages. Owl wings have very finely toothed edges
that allow them to move silently through the air. The ridges on their wing tips "break-up" the air without a sound. Other birds make a fair amount of noise when they flap their wings, you can hear the resistance when you whip a turkey feather through the air, but not an owl's feather.
When hunting, owls rely heavily on being able to swoop down on their prey without being noticed. This entails both silence, and camouflage. The undersides of many owls' wings are whitish-grey to blend in with a dusky sky. In order to detect their prey, owls have HUGE eyes relative to their bodies. Their large black eyes let in maximum light for spotting movement in darkness.
After discussing the owl mounts and the movements of the moon, we walk outside and encourage everyone to touch and feel the plants around them. I discover that cedar is even softer to the touch than it looks. It is almost fuzzy, I can understand how it was used by Native Americans for clothing. Thimble berry too is so fuzzy to the touch it welcomes a good petting.
Eventually, we reach a meadow of low grass surrounded by tall conifers. At 8:30, just before complete darkness, is a good time to see owls hunt. Sure enough, after about five minutes of silent waiting, we see a flash of white over the meadow. A Barn Owl (Tyto alba)! It is the only owl we see, but quite glorious, however quick the viewing.
Owl utilize most greatly their peripheral vision, so as to sense movement over a wide range as opposed to taking in only details of a specific area. We do an exercise to practice using our peripheral that is really interesting--I hadn't imagined sight to feel so much different. Forcing yourself to unfocus and take in movement as opposed to detail is a brain exercise. Your mind wants to focus and tell you what kind of tree you're looking at or what a sign says. It tries to decode the environment as opposed to absorbing it wholly. The change is kind of philosophical... It wonder if plains peoples who hunted the savannahs employed this kind of seeing/thinking. Did it give them a different perception of what it means to see the environment?

Species List:

Observed Species
Barn Owl (Tyto Alba)
Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)
Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziessii)

Resident of Park discussed, but not observed
Northern Saw Whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)
Barred Owl (Strix varia)
Great Horned Owl (Bubo vrginianus)
Mountain Beaver (Aplodontia rufa)

Publicado el 1 de junio de 2012 18:46 por jesscubb jesscubb | 1 observación | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Mee-Kwa-Mooks Beach 5/6/12

Coordinates: Lat. 47.56465
Lon. -122.40846
Weather: 65 degrees F and fully sunny! But just as last time, strong winds keep us chilled.

10am-- The tide is receding as we move along the beach. Low-tide is at 11:30am and should be especially low today as a result of the supermoon. The beach, as described in my previous entry about Mee-Kwa-Mooks is completely rocky. The upper 20-30m of beach are fairly dry--likely that they haven't been underwater in a while. But just beneath this dry strip, where rocks are dispersed over sand, you immediately find a plethora of aggregating anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima). These anemone are not attached to tocks, but rather are rooted in the sand. Often times they are found in clumps of 15 or more all in a close circle about 1ft x1ft. Each anemone is about 4-5 cm across and completely sucked in- the tentacles are not visible. Curiously, however, all of the anemone in the upper section of the beach are covered in small bits of white shell. The shell is piled onto the green anemone, but is not necessarily scattered about on the area surrounding the anemone body. In other words, it looks deliberately piled onto the creature. I imagine that the shell protects the anemone-- it certainly looks like a kind of armor. The brilliant white might help to repel UV rays from the sun, as well as camouflage the anemone from predators. The anemone closer to the water do not have this shell protectant. They spend less time exposed to the sun and predators than the anemone that live higher up the beach, so perhaps they simply have not adapted such a mechanism. The anemone form close circles as a result of their aggregating nature-- they reproduce asexually by cloning. Often, when you see hundreds of anemone clumped or spread across a beach, they are really just clones of a single anemone.
The large abandoned tire that creates a little tide pool has a tidepool sculpin today! (Oligocottus maculosus). It sits perfectly still on a barnacled rock, probably barely 6cm deep in the water. The water feels warm to the touch under the hot sun. I wonder how well this tiny creature does with swift temperature changes? Does it change an animal's metabolism?
Walking down the beach I discover a very small pool of water (one of a million) that contains a floppy, shaggy creature: a nudibranch! It is somewhat rare (or at least special) that you discover a nudibranch on the beach, especially not one as large as this! This nudibranch was about 11cm long when fully extended, but could squish it body into a small ball when not moving. Its mauve coloring and flattened cerata give it the appearance of a shag rug: therein earning its name Shaggy Mouse nudibranch (Aeolidia papillosa). The color of the nudibranch is effected by the food it has been eating- fluctuating from pink to orange to grey or white. Nudibranchs feed primarily on sea anemones--often of a singular species due to their limited mobility.
Later, we find another tiny nudibranch among the eel grass, this one only about 2 cm long, with translucent blue, shimmery tentacles at its front. Its shimmer distinguishes this sea slug as an opalescent sea slug (Hermissenda crassicornis).
Other highlights were finding many sun flower sea stars, and a Troschel's sea star at the lowest part of the beach, just before the tide turned.

Species List:
Ochre Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceus)
Sunflower Sea Star (Pynopodia helianthoides)
Troschel's Sea Star (Evasterias troschellii)

Shaggy Mouse nudibranch (Aeolidia papillosa)
Opalescent nudibranch (Hermissenda crassicornis)

Aggregating anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima)

Tide pool sculpin (Oligocottus maculosus)

Publicado el 1 de junio de 2012 19:15 por jesscubb jesscubb | 4 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

05 de junio de 2012

Skykomish River 5/12/12

Coordinates: lat. 47.8547625
lon. -121.6773553
Weather: 65 degrees F and sunny

--The first stop on our field trip today is on the banks of the Skykomish River, just east of Goldbar. First off I learn that this area is known as a riparian zone, i.e. the area surrounding a river, effected by and in relation to the flowing river. We identify the area as second growth (having been clearcut in 1999) but the trees are already quite tall. Deciduous trees predominate the landscape, particularly black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa). Some small conifers are beginning to grow, but none as large as the cottonwoods and maples. The under-story is quite thick, perhaps a result of there being plenty of light filtered through the deciduous trees. There seems to be a greater diversity of trees and mid-story plants here. A few delicate vine maples fill the mid-story with low swooping branches. Also beaked hazelnut trees (Corylus cornuta) branch out into the road. The leaves of the hazelnut look remarkably similar to those of alders, but are much fuzzier. While alder leaves are smooth and waxy, hazelnut leaves are very soft. The flowers of the hazel are also similar to alder- catkins that form in the fall to be pollinated in spring. The tree is of course named for its fruit: a nut enclosed in a husk. The nuts aren't produced until summer, so none were present during our visit.
Some of the plants that have leafed out since winter are almost more difficult to identify now than they were a few months ago when everything was so bare and the leaved plants so distinct. Common snowberry for example, really stood out in the winter, but now so surrounded by other leaves and shades of green it is more difficult to pick out.
There are large stands of Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) growing in open areas--especially near to the water. This plant is native to Eastern Asia, but has moved here and become very very invasive. I have seen much larger and taller stands of it elsewhere in Seattle choking out many other plants. There were no flowers present, but many tall stems with enormous leaves.
Down by the water a number of cottonwoods have rings of roots exposed above the water- known as "adventitious rooting." When the river rises and trees or branches are torn down stream, these oddly placed roots will take root where ever they land down the river, sprouting a new tree. Basically, the adventitious rooting is flood protection, using the unpredictability of the river to the tree's advantage.
Many robins are singing and we hear but do not see a hermit warbler (Setophaga occidentalis), high up in the canopy. A pacific flowering crab apple leans into the road as well--completely covered in blossoms. I wonder if these trees are totally wild? Why would there be only one of them in this entire area?

Species List
Vine Maple (Acer circinatum)
Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum)
Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii)
Pacific Crab apple (Mallus Fusca)
Beaked Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta)
Black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa)

Trailing Blackberry (Rubus ursinus)
Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus)
Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica)
Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
Scotch Brooom (Cytisus scoparius)

Sheep's Sorrel (Rumex acetosella)
Sweet Vernal Grass
Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica)

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
Hermit Warbler (Setophaga occidentalis)

Publicado el 5 de junio de 2012 07:39 por jesscubb jesscubb | 10 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Leavenworth 5/12/12

Coordinates: lat. 47.58944
lon. -120.67466

Weather: 63 degrees F, but feels hotter under the full sun.

1:50pm-- The sun at its height and we feel it beat down on this new, dry environment. The area is technically a "woodland," populated by Ponderosa Pine (Pinus Ponderosa) and low brushy shrubs. We climb over lichen-crusted rocks and through the dry grass dispersed with individual flowers every 10ft. or so. The plants are open to the hot sun, with no canopy to protect them. Almost like a meadow, but rocky and hilly, moving upward. These exposed regions are a living host of dusty plants that are totally foreign to me! The plants here are dusty colored-browns and sage-greens, nothing like the lush evergreens west of the mountains. The plants seem hardy--accustomed to the harsh heats and cold winters. There are other growing in the shadows beneath boulders, perhaps a bit more water is preserved in these shadowy spots.
Sitting on the warm rocks I see a few small lizards scurry by, seeking protection under the rocks, just like some of the plants. In the dense Western forests, reaching the sun is in high demand, whereas here shade is the more precious and rare commodity.
Despite the muted colors of the plants--their flowers are aglow with brilliant colors! In lower-slightly protected areas we find stunning chocolate lilies, or as someone informed me, checkered lilies (Fritillaria affinis). Also dispersed through the grasses were many balsamroot, I believe Carey's Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza careyana) and Arrowhead Balsamroot, (Balsamorhiza sagittata).
In the more protected area slightly higher up, where a number of tall douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) provide more shade, larger, leafier shrubs were present. Western service berry (Amelanchier alnifolia) was in bloom all over and snowberry (symphoricarpos albus).
Certain trees here are scarred with black as if effected by fires. I wonder how frequently fires scar this region? I imagine being so close to Leavenworth it would be in the peoples' interest to make sure fires did not occur here, but I wonder if small ones could still occur?
It is amazing what a contrast exists just a few miles over a mountain pass. It is a completely different world here. Still rich with life, but in such a different, crunchier way.

Species List
Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa)
Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)

Western Service berry (Amelanchier alnifolia)
Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana)
Ocean Spray (Holodiscus discolor)
Rocky Mtn Maple (Acer glabrum)

Carey's Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza careyana)
Showy Phlox (Phlox speciosa)
Hooked Spur violet (Viola adunca)
Death Camas (Zigadenus paniculatus)
Columbia puccoon (Lithospermum ruderale)
Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii)
Prairie Star (Lithophragma parviflorum)
Checkered Lily (Fritallaria affinis)
Harsh Indian Paint brush (Castilleja hispada)
Paeonia Brownii

Western Fence Lizard (Scloporus occidentalis)

Publicado el 5 de junio de 2012 15:06 por jesscubb jesscubb | 11 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Road Trip to Montana 5/24/12

Over memorial day weekend a road trip to Helena, MT with my family took me out of the Puget Sound basin into the pine forests of the East, where totally new ecosystems abound!
For description of the landscape change and a few stops along the way, please refer to my physical journal.

Publicado el 5 de junio de 2012 15:10 por jesscubb jesscubb | 5 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario