Harnessing the Inner Artist

Carkeek Park | 4.18.18| 5:03pm |sunny | 54°

Phenology (retyped from field notes)

The foliage is beginning to protrude into the walking path, casting evening shadows of their form. There is a small, quick insect periodically buzzing around my face; too small and quick for me to note the species. Flies dodge around me, land on a leaf and continue their journey. I hear more voices than birds today, in fact I don’t hear any birds, but the creek is rhythmically flowing as usual. However there are now approximately 10 twigs of varying sizes, some as thin as a pencil, others as thick as water bottle is round, beginning to dam up around the boulders. They are to the right of a thick tree slice (~9’’) that I presume fell in when a tree was cut by man after falling onto the trail.

I observe some of the species I have begun continually noting. The Western Hemlock has a growing canopy. It extends ~8’ from the trunk (toward the creek) and ~7’ into the walkway. The lowest branch barely skims my head, making it approximately 5’ from the ground. I could eight new buds, where an offshoot of needles will begin to grow off the main branch. The branch is greenish brown in color and looks fuzzy, like a kiwi, however it is not fuzzy enough to be detected when touched.

The branch directly to the right of this one is missing ~4’’ of needles midway down the branch. I wonder what this could be a result of. About three feet up the tree I wrap my hands around the trunk. My index fingers meet and so do my thumbs. They have room to stack, nail on nail. I wonder how old this tree is.

There are six small twigs, dreaming of becoming branches, growing ~2.5’ up the trunk from the ground. They are wispy and ⅚ have dropping moss on them. The moss is soft to the touch, dense but lightweight and olive in color. It tacos the branch. I wonder if the branch will continue growing or die given the moss presence.

Last week I noted a Lady Fern growing out of the creekside bank. This week I took more time to deeply observe it. It is a single frond, ~1’’ in size. It has seven sets of opposites leaves plus a tip. Above it is new growth, about ~1cm in size with five tiny sets of opposite leaves. I can see the veins – they have a purple tint; are gentle but prominent. A second Lady Fern is growing ~4’’ to the south. It has 3 fronds growing despite only being 1’’ to 1.5’’ in height.

On the tip of the water bank, ~6’’ from the creek is a new tree or shrub. It is difficult to tell since it is only ~8’’ tall. It looks like a Beaked Hazelnut however it is likely a Sitka Alder given its proximity to water. It has a leaf ~1cm in size, ~2’’ off the ground. The stem is approximately as thick as three toothpicks. ~1’’ from the first leaf is an offshoot (will be a branch) with three leaves. I cannot yet tell if they are opposite or alternate. Then there are two leaves, three leaves, and one more at the top, with two about to bud. The veins are prominent and barely alternate as they come off the center vein; they are positions toward the tip as if their contents flowed outward and to the tip of the leaf.

**I also photographed these species so that I can record their growth in written and visual form throughout the weeks to come. 


Exploring the World of Fungi and Lichen

Carkeek Park | 4.8.18| 1:51pm |cloudy | 51°

Week #2 observation notes

See observation 4. in field notes. Determined to be a Dust Lichen – Lepraria species based on observations and the field guide. 

See observation 5. in field notes. I have determined this lichen most closely aligns with Hooded Bone – Hypogymnia physodes based on size, general color and the fact it lacks holdfasts, which this lichen did. iHowever, iNaturalist suggests this is Varied Rag Lichen – Platismatia glauca. Looking into this species made me think my iNaturalist post was not detailed enough, as it this lichen does not exhibit the same characteristics as what was suggested. 

See observation 6. in field notes. This is a fungi, potentially two fungi (see top right of first image for potential second), however I have not yet determined the genus and species. 

See observation 8. in field notes. Details: This lichen was located on a damp, rotting log under the canopy of a bush, and thus was mostly shaded. It was combined of very fine black particles that together formed clumps or dense bubble looking formations. Some have more structure than others i.e. the middle right (of image scope) is flatter while the center is bumpier and more raised. I believe it to be a crust lichen but I am not able to determine the species. 

This lichen stood alone: it was the only of it’s shape, although it was located on the same damp log over the creek as observation 4. It was flat to the rock, non-abrasive, pale green/gray in color, ruffled on the edges with small worm shaped holes within. I have also determined this to be a crust lichen.

This fungi was located on the path leading to the parking lot from my observation site, somewhat hidden under fallen big maple leaves and branches. It varied in color, from cream, to tan, to dirt brown to nearly black like coffee. The shape was oblong and the upper surface had raised and lowered patches (as seen in the photo). I used http://forestrydev.org/cgi-bin/matchmaker/MatchMaker.asp but was unable to determine the species.

This week I focused on identifying the plant species I had thus far learned and trying to locate lichen and fungi species, which I have little experience with. I was struggling with one tree on my site and while I thought it was a Western hemlock – Tsuga heterophyllaa few characteristics had me question myself: the bark was going in the opposite direction (horizontal not vertical), it was smooth without grooves or ridges and the needles were not all that different in size. I uploaded photos and my observations to iNaturalist and was able to confirm that it was a Western hemlock – Tsuga heterophylla. 

The Salmonberry – Rubus spectabilis appeared to have less flowers than the previous week, new Lady fern – Athyrium filix-femina was growing on the upper level of the creek bank and still a matter of inches in size, and I heard many more birds but did not actually see them. There were gnat like bugs flying around and everything (logs, ground, mosses) than the previous week. I also learned that the creek in Carkeek is actually the Venema Creek, not Piper’s Creek.

Additionally, as seen in my field notes, I noted the tree and shrub species that we learned last week. I have also included side by side photos of week one and week two to see just how quickly the site changes, even within one week. Over all I noted that the site was more vibrant; brighter, richer green in color from new growth, especially on Salmonberry bushes. I would also like to alter the framing of my 3² image one beginning next week. First, I did not do a great job taking an identical photo and two, while ideally I could view the changing water levels, there is not a lot of plant life to observe.

Week two vs. week one 50m²

Week one vs week two 3m²

Week one vs week two 3m²

Week one vs week two 3m²

Western hemlock – Tsuga heterophylla

Left to right: Lady fern – Athyrium filix-femina, Licorice fern – Polypodium glycyrrhiza, Sword fern – Polystichum munitum

Finding my Observation Spot

Carkeek Park | 4.2.18| 7:15pm |mostly sunny | 48°

Tonight I found and settled into my observation spot, a location I will come to know intimately in the coming weeks as we continue to transition from winter to spring, and slowly spring to summer. The air was cool and crisp and I innately gravitated toward the rhythmic sound of running water: Piper’s Creek. Broadly, I saw still bare deciduous trees, intermingling under their towering coniferous friends. Under the trees the hiking trails meandered, approaching the creek before bending toward the parking lot. Beyond the trees I was surrounded by budding Himalayan Blackberries and Salmon Berry bushes, their flora the brightest color within the dense landscape. I periodically heard a car drive by, a plane fly over head and even a train roll by. The sound of Piper’s creek was constant and soothing.

I sat on a log that appeared damp but was dry to the touch. It was covered in moss. This riparian zone had been altered by man at some point, perhaps to prevent erosion, but with time the silt mat has lost it’s battle with the creek. In the creek were smooth, rounded cobbles coexisting with pebbles and sand. The water bubbled around the cobbles, and gnat like bugs flew at the surface. A single mosquito buzzed by. I looked to my feet and noted a banana slug silently exploring the ground cover around the creek. The ground was made of sand with silt. Around the edges of the creek there was some grass but mostly 2-3 leaved species. Little plant roots were exposed in the soil but they showed no signs of life.

Week #1 observation notes

~50 sq. meters

~ 1sq. meter

~ 1sq. meter

~ 1sq. meter