02 de abril de 2020

The Brant

I live close to the Puget Sound shore, a 5-minute walk. After almost 30 years, I’ve come to know the seasonal comings and goings of tides, flora, fauna, and flotsam. A favorite is when the brant come through on their way north. Sure, some also winter here. But the population noticeably upticks in spring as the northbound flocks come up from their wintering estuaries in Baja California. They check in here, to feast on the eelgrass and sea lettuce.

On this day, the wind was blowing just enough to chop the Sound surface and roll wind waves up the sand flats or dash against the rocks. The brant looked to enjoy bobbing in this mild turmoil, ducking their heads down into an approaching wave to emerge past it, as would a surfer making their way out beyond the break. They looked happy, with beaks full of sea lettuce to fuel their journey north.

Anotado en 02 de abril de 2020 a las 04:19 AM por brownsbay brownsbay | 1 observación | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

21 de enero de 2018

Mount St. Helens

Back in August I participated in a hiking trip with the Mount St. Helens Institute (MSHI). The hike was to summit Coldwater Peak to view the solar eclipse. It turned out to be a wonderful trip with plenty of time for inatting, although hiking in a group tends to stifle the inatting opportunities, especially when the goal is to summit in time for the eclipse. I had been to Mount St. Helens in 1983, shortly after the eruption, with a hike to Norway Pass, one of the few trails that had opened. It was then quite a sterile scene, the area still covered in volcanic ash the consistency flour. The landscape has considerably evolved since the eruption. Much plant and animal life has returned. This includes some invasives, especially cat's ear and Canada thistle. Areas that were farther from the blast and riparian areas are showing nice healthy native growth.

At the risk of shameless self-promotion and more importantly to support MSHI, one of my photos was selected for their 2018 calendar (October), and I encourage you to order your calendar here:

Anotado en 21 de enero de 2018 a las 03:53 AM por brownsbay brownsbay | 1 observación | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

25 de noviembre de 2017

Help Collect Invasive Ivy Samples

The dreaded invasive ivy. Is it English or Atlantic? That debate could emerge as exciting as the one about Himalayan, Armenian, or European blackberry. To assist in the ivy debate, there is a very cool Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board citizen science project you can read about here:

Help Collect Invasive Ivy Samples

To save you a second or two of mouse clicking, I'll quote you the opening text from the website:

"The State Noxious Weed Control Board is seeking the public’s help working on a project to conduct an updated sampling of escaped, invasive ivy in Washington to determine whether Atlantic ivy, Helix hibernica (commonly called English ivy), is still the more abundant species compared to English ivy, Hedera helix. A 1999 study (Murai 1999) examined 58 wild ivy populations from southern British Columbia to northern Oregon and determined 83% of them were made up of Atlantic ivy. With this project, our goal is to collect a large number of invasive ivy samples in Washington State to determine at as fine a scale as possible, what ivy species is invasive in the state and where it is growing."

Now go back up and click on the link to find out how you can participate.

Today's Everett Herald (11/25/17) also has a nice article on the project here:

State waging war with tenacious ivy

My personal battle with invasive ivy began more than 25 years ago when we first moved into our home in the northern part of Edmonds. The western part of our yard was a swath of ivy threatening to invade the whole yard. Our first order of business was to rip it out, which we successfully did. However, our neighbor to the west, loves to have the ivy trained along the chain-link fence that divides our respective properties and which surrounds their property. The neighbor regularly is out neatly trimming the ivy tendrils. The back of their property (and ours) borders a county park and so their ivy has over time crept a considerable distance into the park woods. The park also has several large areas of ivy desert and native trees festooned with the tenacious vine. The neighbor's ivy creeps into our yard as well and so about twice a year I'm ripping out the creeping tendrils and cutting the ivy flush against the common fence. This effort easily generates about five plastic barrels of yard waste. I put up with this because they are genuinely nice neighbors. But I passionately hate ivy.

Anotado en 25 de noviembre de 2017 a las 07:18 PM por brownsbay brownsbay | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

01 de octubre de 2017

Lewis and Clark State Park - Lewis County, WA

Lewis and Clark State Park protects one of the last vestiges of lowland old growth forest found in western Washington. Located just a few miles east of Interstate 5 between Chehalis and Castle Rock, it's easily accessible for a quick rest stop and exploration. Several years ago during a cold and rainy December I was on a nearby work project drilling core samples for environmental analysis. Having a little spare time I decided to check out the park. After driving through fields, pastures, and patches of second and third growth forest I entered into a cathedral-like experience of tall thick trunks, vaulted green ceilings, and stained glass walls of moss-draped branches. It was a striking contrast from the surrounding area. I had no time to linger; the relentless rain was falling and the short winter daylight was waning. But I made a note to return.

I returned to the Park again just this last August on my way down to view the solar eclipse from a peak near Mount St. Helens. Given my schedule, I had only 20 minutes for a short walk through the forest on an inat supermarket sweep survey. The tall branchless trunks of fir and cedar were most impressive. What I noticed was the diversity of plant life compared to that of the undeveloped parks and greenbelts around Seattle.

Time was up and I had to depart to make a late afternoon meeting time at Mount St. Helens. Again, I made a note to return and spend more time walking the network of trails through this park. Springtime should be optimal as leaves unfold and the forest floor comes to life.

Lewis and Clark State Park

Anotado en 01 de octubre de 2017 a las 05:47 PM por brownsbay brownsbay | 2 observaciones | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

27 de diciembre de 2016

Las Vegas Outside

I don't visit Las Vegas intentionally but my job takes me there on occasion. On those occasions I take advantage of my spare time and visit the natural world located not too far from the artificially-created one strung out along Las Vegas Boulevard ("the Strip"). Surprisingly, there is much to see outside of the city and, maybe even more surprising, there are actual Las Vegas residents who appreciate and nurture that natural world, as I have come to find out on iNaturalist and through my own explorations. On my recent visit to Las Vegas on December 7 and 8, 2016, I visited Clark County Wetlands Park and Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, located in the Red Rock Canyon area.

Clark County Wetlands Park
The park includes a series of ponds and streams fed by reclaimed water discharge from area wastewater treatment plants. The reclaimed water eventually finds its way down Las Vegas Wash to Lake Mead, which is the main source of potable water for Las Vegas. The park is rich in both wetland/freshwater and Mojave Desert flora and fauna. A network of wide, flat trails wind through park. The nature center is worth a visit.

iNaturalist has a guide (the iNaturalist guides are excellent intro): Clark County Wetlands Park BioBlitz 2016

Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
This park is within the Red Rock Canyon area and located just south of the main BLM Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area . The park has several easy loop trails, all less than 1.5 miles in length. Make a day of it and do them all like I did. Perhaps the best is the Sandstone Canyon loop trail that heads up toward the spectacular sandstone cliffs (Aztec sandstone, lower Jurassic). The spring-fed pond is known as Lake Harriet and in addition to waterfowl, the pond harbors the endangered Pahrump Poolfish .

Another great iNaturalist guide for the Spring Mountains that covers also Red Rock Canyon: Spring Mountains

The Spring Mountains National Recreation Area offers many hiking and naturalist exploring opportunities in an alpine mountain setting. Two years ago, I hiked the Upper Bristlecone Trail here.

Jim Boone, who I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting, has assembled an excellent website here: Birding, Hiking, and Naturalizing Around Las Vegas

There are other natural areas and places around Las Vegas that I have not covered. Hold on to your money. Get outside!

Anotado en 27 de diciembre de 2016 a las 04:18 AM por brownsbay brownsbay | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

16 de diciembre de 2016

Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC)

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) begins across the country. I'm sure many of you participate in this event. This is my fourth year in a row participating. I will be out tomorrow with my local group in the western part of Edmonds and along the waterfront.


Anotado en 16 de diciembre de 2016 a las 03:14 PM por brownsbay brownsbay | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario