Reflection &Observation

Carkeek Park | 6.2.18| 11:28am |cloudy | 63°

Today, just before the rains arrived, I made my final observations of my site at Carkeek Park. Despite knowing that I’ll be back to check up on the site and further explore the park, such as the salmon hatchery and the historic orchard (see Land Use History page) I paid extra mind to that around me, appreciating the fresh air and abundance of life.

Final phenology notes and comparative photos can be found as field note images in my Week Nine photo album.

Closing reflections
1) How has your perception of your observation site changed through the quarter? Think about how it has changed phenologically, and how your relationship to it has changed accordingly.

A large part of me feels a caretaker to my site: someone responsible for checking up on its growth and wellbeing, but it was not always that way. Early in the quarter my site was special because it was situated on Venema Creek (Piper’s Creek), something that I felt made it unique from any other space I could have selected. Other than the constant lull of the creek, the site was hardly different from any other city park (although I did feel my site was significantly cooler than some alternative options like those nearest to campus).

But then I began paying close attention to a few select species and everything began growing and blooming exponentially. I watched the site come to life as spring sprung and I became invested in it’s progress and wellbeing. Instead of appreciating nature as a whole, I began to appreciate specific species and looked forward to seeing their growth (or demise in two instances), the following week. And every week I discovered new species, convinced they had sprung up within the last week though this likely was not the case. It is this moment of reflection that I realize I could spend years visiting this site and still observe something new with each visit.

2) How has your sense of the Puget Sound Region changed through the quarter? Think about the body of knowledge we have explored, and the wealth of experiences we have had both locally and on travels around the region.

Initially I felt my sense of the Puget Sound Region has not shifted dramatically. I grew up here and have always had a strong sense of appreciation for the region, its variation and its beauty. However, I’ve experienced small shifts in perspective that add up to a new sense of the region. First, I have come to more strongly value the individual landscapes within the region; the differences between coastal lands, the Olympic Mountains, the prairies, the lowlands, the Cascades, and even poderosa forests and shrub steppe. Specifically, I value knowing the role glaciation, tectonic activity and the weather have had (and continue to have) on the region.

On a more intimate level, until now my appreciation has primarily been a result of beauty, however learning the human uses of native plants has taught me just how incredible the Puget Sound Region is. Not only is it beautiful but it can sustain, and has sustained, seemingly endless life forms from humans to fungi to insects. And if sustainably practiced, I believe people could live, at least partially, off the region’s resources today. Conversely, I have also learned just how deeply humans have altered this landscape and I applaud its resilience. At the same time, I recognize that every ecosystem has a tipping point and I find myself wondering just how resilient the Puget Sound Region is. Which returns me back to tectonic activity, noting that at some point in the future the Puget Sound may be an entirely different region with even more complex landscapes and history.

3) What does it mean to intimately know a natural place? Think about this question in terms of the process of “doing natural history” and the outcome of repeated experience in nature. Also think about it in terms of scale—you have done close observation of one site, as well as developed broader appreciation of the range of interconnected ecosystems as one travels across this region). Is there as much to be gained (or more?) from close observation of nature in a city park, as compared to field trips to far flung places or inspiring view points in the mountains?

To intimately know a natural place means to recognize it for more than meets the eye; whether that is beauty, the opposite or something in between. It means to not only recognize it but to understand it to a varying degree. This includes not only knowing species and landscapes and their relationships but being able to notice their specific relationship(s) and changes. An example is the Sitka alder at my site. The abundance of trees would be difficult to miss in the broad canopy, but the 12 inch baby tree situated at the creeks edge is less obvious. Furthermore, I initially thought it to be a Red alder, until I did further research to learn Sikta alders are almost always growing near water. On this note, I have watched individual plants grow, adding or subtracting (likely by human cause) foliage week by week. These valuable and fascinating ecological changes are only visible on an intimate level.

Practicing natural history has taught me that there is so much more to see and enjoy, in even the smallest patches of nature, than meets the eye. In fact, close observation delivers context and understanding to broader observation. An example is learning and observing tree species that grow near water, which tend to be deciduous. As a result, when I drive through a heavily forested region I know that the bright green patches on hillsides are likely high in moisture. I have enough knowledge and experience to envision what they might look like if I were on site. That said I believe there is at least as much to be gained, more in many instances, from close observation as there is from broad observation. And more often than not, the two go hand in hand, complementing one another like a predetermined pair.

4) What do you feel are your most important personal outcomes from this class? What is the value to you of nature observation, and any other skills you have garnered?

This course has provided me with knowledge and skills that I will carry the rest of my life, which I attribute to the immersive learning experience. I feel the education system has strayed so far from practical knowledge and application but this class returns to the roots. My knowledge of an Indian plum does not come from a textbook, it comes from seeing, touching, smelling and tasting the plant which I will now forever recognize an Indian plum. This applies to nearly all other species studied throughout the course.

Additionally, I am inspired by the realization that anyone can be a naturalist. While it took taking this course for me to understand that, I now realize that all it takes is interest, practice and perhaps occasional patience. In a time when humans are straying so far from nature as we become more technology driven and urbanized, it has never been so important for people to maintain connections to nature. I believe there should be a greater push for recent and coming generations to observe, understand and build such connections. Lastly, being a naturalist keeps me curious, inspired and consequently always searching for more. Months ago I claimed to have not liked birds. I did not not understand their appeal or fascination, other than I believe animals are inherently neat creatures. Earlier this week, my curiosity manifested into birding in the rain; I understand why this course comes so highly recommended.

5) Has your overall perception of nature and natural history, and the place of humans in nature, changed this quarter?

This course reminded me of two things. First, massive changes in the land or species die offs are not new, in fact nature is always changing and evolving, however humans have altered nature so greatly that more than species have disappeared.  Locally, what stands out the most is the altering of the natural waterways. Not only did plant species vanish, but entire rivers, streams and native cultures; the connection to nature and its cascading effects were largely severed. While referencing the Puget Sound Region, this occurred all over the nation and even beyond. As a result we see a massive disconnect between people and nature today, when in reality the two can coexist and did so for hundreds of years. Thus in my mind natural history is more frequently tied to humans than not.

On that note, humans are part of nature despite an era that largely reflects separatism. While acts acknowledging nature feel small in a world afflicted by climate change, movements toward sustainability, conservation, restoration and living off the land are seemingly rising. Humans are realizing that we have grown separate and distant from something that we are so closely tied to, and that inspires me. There is an increasing opportunity to rekindle the connection between nature and humans and I feel that’s what this class has sparked. Despite having always valued nature, natural history has further strengthened my values and I believe naturalists (humans) have a critical role to play to in the rekindling of humans and nature.

Birds in the Field

Carkeek Park | 5.16.18| 7:33am |cloudy | 55°

Welcome to blog seven! I have run out of space for image storage on this blog site (also why images from earlier blogs are no longer visible). I have created a Google photo album with site images and images of my field notes. This week I am also featuring images taken for week two for comparative purposes. There are comments attached to each image to provide context or further detail.

Field notes and images can be found here:

Poetry in the Field

Carkeek Park | 5.09.18| 3:47pm |mostly sunny | 66°

Phenology update: three species

Western hemlock, Tsuga heterophylla

Above: Lady fern, Athyrium filix-femina Below: Sitka alder, Alnus viridis

Phenology update: general

Please visit my Google Album to view photos of the site and species covered. I have run out of available storage space for this blog host.

Darting by,
like an airplane in shape,
but silent, without passengers. 
Only more colorful, shimmery and blue.
No motors at all,
just two webbed, wide symmetrical ovals. 
Species: Dragonfly or damselfly (moved too quickly to distinguish). 

You’re red, and awfully shiny.
From where you came, I am unsure.
The size of a pepper speck;
two lines seem to point you on your way.
Six lines seem to deliver you there.
I wonder from where you came,
and when I’ll see you next.
Species: Unknown little red insect

Do you change with the seasons?
That around you grows more lush, more full.
But you just move. Constantly.
Something constant in an ever changing world.
Yet you change. Ever so subtly.
Maintaining the peace.
Nourishing life. Despite,
being surrounded by constant competition
for space, for light, 

for nutrients. 
Landscape feature: Venema Creek

Ancient Lakes

Ancient Lakes | 4.28.18| 11:30am – 4:15pm |sunny | 65°

I cannot count the number of times I’ve driven over Snoqualmie Pass in my life time, but this weekend was different. Not only did a note nature’s beautiful green patchwork as the foothills became mountains, but I noted the species forming those patches and understood why they were distributed in such a way.

As we ascended the mountain Douglas fir was the predominant species with some western hemlocks intermixed. The western hemlocks appeared mostly on the edge of the forest, likely where they could access the greatest amount of light, while the Douglas fir seemed to fill the remaining space. I also saw western red cedar and deciduous trees, mostly bigleafed maple, both likely growing in moist areas. Which isn’t difficult given the large amount of rainfall that towns like North Bend receive due to the rain shadow effect:

Warmer air comes off the Pacific and heads eastward. Precipitation falls as rain as the clouds continue to move east. When they reach the foothills (North Bend) they are forced upward by the mountains. As they move upward the air cools and condenses on the windward side, leaving lots of rain!  

While the top of the pass was still wet, the trees and landscape began to transition. Douglas fir was still prominent but I noticed silver fir as well.  miles beyond Snoqualmie Pass. As we approached Easton the ponderous pines began appearing and I knew that if I rolled down the window I would be overcome by my favorite smell; the pine forest. As we neared Ellensburg the pine forest began to fade and turn into grassland but the cottonwoods dominated riparian zones given the abundance of water availability. The grasslands were still green given snowmelt and well charged ground water tables. East of Ellensburg, the agricultural grasslands became shrub-steppe, grasses and sagebrush.

When we finally arrived in the Ancient Lakes coulee, I was awestruck and wondered how I had spent so much of my life in that area but never heard of or been to Ancient Lakes. I felt as if I were standing on the floor of an empty Columbia River, only I of course wasn’t. The towering basalt columns have a way of making you feel small and the life between them endless, which in a large way, is true. While I was familiar with the general desert landscape of the area, the plants and animals introduced today were new. The following were highlights from my afternoon.

Observing the Red tailed hawk’s (Buteo jamaicensis) nest on the basalt columns (pointed out by Kaeli). She heard the call of chicks and began looking for the nest. It was situated roughly ¾ up the column, safe from predators with an open view of the coulee below for hunting. With binoculars we were able to see the chicks popping up in the nest. On the return trip we notices the parents circling above and one carrying a snake, which it delivered to its young. I learned that this is the “famous” bird call used in movies (often to resemble the bald eagle). This experience got me excited for the bird portion of this class, which previously seemed daunting.

I was also fascinated by Kaeli’s natural history mystery. She called a few of us over to piece together why a bee had been perfectly impaled on the thorn of a shrub. Through deductive reasoning, I was able to figure out that something had placed the bee there, and the only reason a bee would be stored would be because it was of value, meaning whatever put it there likely eats bees. I drew the conclusion that it was likely a bird. Kalea confirmed, it was a Northern Shrike (Lanius borealis).

Furthermore, I had never considered how complex and amazing tall sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) are. In addition to being adapted to store water through small leaves and little hairs, and uptake both groundwater and surface water, they are affected by galls. I initially thought these to be fruit until Tim informed me that these plant growths were a result of insects. I struggled to believe him because the galls physically grew out of leave and stems. I did some research when I got home and found a detailed and fascinating article from The Wenatchee World that stated “Wenatchee Valley big sagebrush is known to host at least 32 different species of gall midges, a group of tiny (2-3 mm) delicate two-winged flies with long legs and long antennae (Family Cecidomyiidae).” I couldn’t help but realize that without this field trip I would have likely spent the rest of my life either not noticing the galls or assuming they were a plant producing fruit.

Lastly, I enjoyed observing how critical the basalt columns are for the plants and animals of this region. Not only did I observe the red tailed hawks, but I saw yellow bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventris) hiding in a crevasse at the top of a basalt tower. I know that my classmates were able to see a tree frog and some even found the scorpions. In addition to animals, there were plants that relied on the basalt. First, the lichen varieties were incredible! I was amazed by the various colors, textures and shapes, all on the same surface. Second, shrubs grew in unexpected places, especially at the base of the columns. I theorized that water runs down the columns and is deposited in the sediment below, creating ideal growing conditions for shrubs and grasses. I also noted that different species were present near large basalt boulders, seemingly based on light, like the wax currant (Ribes cereum).

Here is a list of other species that I noted and/or observed throughout the day:


The south ancient lake. Grasses lead to the shore, which is heavily populated with willow trees. I heard swarms of bees and Kat (pictured) said they were in the willow trees. I watched a heron fly to the lake shore and buffleheads swim on the surface.

Close ups

Prairie star, Lithophragma parviflorum

Yarrow, Achillea millefolium

Tidepools & Old Growth Forest

Tidepools | Salt Creek | 4.21.18 | 1-4pm |53° | cloudy, on&off showers, windy

The shore is sandy with waves lapping the beach shore, yards in the distance. There is an island, impossible to miss that has endeared hundreds of years of abuse from the waves but persisted while it’s neighbors eroded away; its made of a harder sediment that can accept constant wave action. I would guess that this island is largely what makes this such a popular beach. 

The hillside surrounding me is steep, made of basalt that was thrusted up from the ocean floor when tectonic plates collided. Layered atop the basalt is sand and silt, tan in color. Rooted in that sediment is shrubbery and trees. There is a cove, where everything seems to change. I wonder where the sand went and what is responsible for the transition from sand to basalt. I hypothesize it has to do with the creek; some combination of sediments carried by the freshwater, sand carried by the waves and wave action.

The basalt now covers the ground, rocky small boulders and covered in rock weed, Fucus gardneri, algae and kelp. As I walk west through the tide zones the kelp slowly dissipates and the shore becomes dominated by blue mussel, Mytilus edulis beds.  Gooseneck barnacles, Pollicipes polymerus are patchy far out on the point. The basalt rock below is now difficult to see, caked with resilient and strong mussels. I hypothesize that the mussels are one of the only species apt to stand the rough wave exposure, constant light and have adapted to survive predation, mainly from birds. I also presume that they out compete the gooseneck. Intermixed are tidepools – colorful with anemone, urchins, small fish, crabs and sea stars. While these pools are alive, I note little movement. Perhaps movement draws attention from predators during low tide so these species remain relatively still. I would also think that there is less constant access to nutrients, since tidepools are stagnant at low tide. 

The giant green anemones, Cribrina xanthogrammica live in the low tide zone in deep pools. I hypothesize they need the depth to remain submerged in water. The sea urchins, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, mostly purple but red here and there, nestle themselves into crevasses. They’re usually in sandy sediment with an abundance of shell particles. I hypothesize the crevasses are for protection, as they are more difficult to see at the base of a boulder than the center of a tidepool. I wonder what the sand provides them and why they live on sand, not rock. Kelp is plentiful. I picture it swaying with the currents when it is under water during high tide.

As I approach the mid tide zone the anemone are smaller and closed up, dark green on the outside and pink on the inside. They remind me of a watermelon. I peg them to be Aggregating anemone, Anthopleura elegantissimaIn fact they are hidden everywhere. I hypothesize that this is for protection from predation or lack of water depth to open and remain submerged. I do note that the more shallow tide pools have a greater abundance of crabs and hermit crabs. I don’t observe any moving, just the shells. I see a colorful crab with thick arms deep between two rocks. I can’t quiet identify it with a limited perspective. The claws are white and speckled raspberry. I look for competition in these pools but everything appears to be living symbiotically.  However, the algae has begun to increase; I note Coralline algae, Corallinales, both in branch form and crusted on rocks. I wonder how these species adapted to have two forms and which came first and why? Here is where I find dead common skates, Raja batis, in various states of decomposition, likely from predators, predominantly birds. 

In the high tide zone I begin turning over rocks and find little bug like critters. They remind me of potato bugs only they are 4x larger and slimy. They are gray and I determine them to be an unspecified isopod. As I walk inland I notice the rocks getting smaller, boulders beginning to vanish and transition into pebbles and coarse sand particles. In front of me are basalt banks, darker in color at the base, lighter near the rootline due to weathering. I wonder why the basalt has “survived” on the point and the shoreline wall but not here. I hypothesize it is due to wave action but I find I’m unsatisfied with such a vague answer. As I look at the rootline I noticed a family of three racoons navigating their way down to the shore.  I imagine they are hungry, much like myself. They appear apprehensive given the large crowd we have brought, although I don’t foresee them surrendering. They disappear behind a bend. Over head, two bald eagles, Haliaeetus leucocephalus circles off the shore. I assume they’re hunting the fish I cannot see, and perhaps catching a ride from the wind. 

Salt Creek landscape, sketch

Salt Creek landscape, image

Green sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis. Note: the family listed in the image is incorrect.

Tidepool sculpin, Oligocottus maculatus

Western hemlock zone | Barnes Creek | 4.22.18 | 9:30am-1:15pm | 59° | sunny with a breeze

As I depart Nature Bridge I note that the moisture and cool air haven’t gone anywhere. In fact this forest is likely the dampest I’ve ever been in. I cannot focus on a single species or even thumbnail at the moment; the trees are too massive, the mosses and lichen too infinite and the floor at my feet too full of life. This forest has to be an old growth, 400+ years old given the big trees, dense understory, uneven canopy and nurse logs. I note Western hemlocks, Tsuga heterophylla, Western redcedars, Thuja plicata and here and there a Douglas fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii. Salal, Gaultheria shallon is plentiful in this forest. Sword ferns, Polystichum munitum is abundant and I notice licorice fern, Polypodium glycyrrhiza on the mossy nurse logs. I find myself wondering what is moss versus lichen this forest? 

As I continue hiking we arrive at a massive erratic. It looks alive given the abundance of ferns, mosses, lichens and even twigs of plants I can’t identify, from the ground level. This is  is where Mt. Storm King trail begins, so I begin my ascent. I quickly find myself, as I often do on hikes, wondering who thought it was a good idea to create a trail here? And who had the stamina and determination to create it. I was reminded that this was my first hike since spending a quarter abroad. I begin to notice that the trees are smaller, more homogenous and there is less understory. There are logs and branches scattered on the forest floor. I note that I am out of the old growth forest and now in a forest impacted by wind storms. There is even a tree down across the trail.

The trail is lined with salal and mosses but as I quickly gain elevation I notice the change in plant life. I start to see lichen I’ve never seen before, like the freckle speckle pelt, peltigera aphthosa. Common witch’s hair, Alectoria sarmentosa hangs from tree branches. I also notice white trillium, Trillium grandiflorum which don’t stick around for long. I hypothesize they need the steep hillside for protection and western light, but they prefer moist and predominantly shaded conditions.

As I continue to climb I notice stonecrop on west facing hillsides, noting their need for heavy sunlight. I think of the succulents I keep at home and wonder how I never knew there were species native to Washington. I hypothesize that it’s because they need specific conditions for survival; high sun and rockier/sandier soil, which aren’t exactly characteristics of The Cascades where I have spent most of my time outdoors. I also note that the species are more predominantly Douglas fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii. I start to see some Madrones, Arbutus menziesii as the hillside gets brighter and rockier.

Through the trees I can catch glimpses of Lake Crescent. I spy a light dusting of snow on the north facing mountain ridges to the south. Here I can also see the U-shaped bowls where glaciers once “lived”. The mountain side steeply declines. It has vertical channels running into the V-valley and I hypothesize these have historically carried snow and water run off down into the valley and eventually Lake Crescent.

At the top, it is warm and dry. There is mostly rock at my feet now, not moss. While it is basalt it is light in color. I wonder and hypothesize that the change in color is due to weathering and high light exposure. As I begin to search for a place to sit, I notice a (human) family and birds feverishly flying around them. I quickly dig out my bird guide, how does this thing work? I flip through, stopping at any name I’m semi-familiar with. The bird is fairly large, it’s gray, and it is clearly not afraid of people. My classmate beats me to it, it is a Gray jay, Perisoreus canadensis.

Through the trees I can see the clarity of the water and variation in its color around the shoreline. I wonder why it is olgiotrophic. When I think about it,  realize that most alpine lakes are. I hypothesize that I has to do with temperature and elevation; I assume the water is frigid and primarily from snow melt, at least historically.

As I hike down I take the time to notice the different zones I hiked through, especially the incredible abundance of salal. I recall that salal grows well in poor soil that has been affected by fire. I look to see signs of fire but I don’t. I note that salal and madrone leaves look similar and wonder if they are related. I find Tim along the way and get to see the well camouflaged chocolate lily, Fritillaria affinis that I missed on my way up. I also see what looks like coastal strawberry, Fragaria chiloensis serving as ground cover, intermixed with the mosses and lichens. They are not producing fruit but I recognize the leaves.

As I spot the erratic signaling the base of the trail and make my way back to Nature Bridge, I reflect on all that I saw along a relatively short hike. I saw a predominantly western hemlock old growth forest, a young, predominantly douglas fir forest and even some silver fir, Abies alba at the top. I walked through forests dominated by different species based on light availability, competition, elevation and slope. I spotted areas affected by wind disturbances that were young, while some old growth had also been affected by wind and historically fire. I witnessed the nearly century old fire disturbances, only visible by the charring on old legacy trees.

As I arrive back to Nature Bridge I see the big picture in my head; the ocean a mere mile or two in the distance, mountains dusted with snow a few miles in the other direction, a beach, a forest, aquatic life, land species, species that can occupy both habitats, and a region created by glaciers and tectonic movement, shaped by disturbances. In this moment I finally understand the draw to these mountains and give a quick thanks to Franklin Roosevelt for legally preserving this local wonder. 

Forest landscape, sketch

Forest landscape, image

Salal, Gaultheria shallon

Dragonskin lichen, Lobaria oregana

Harnessing the Inner Artist

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

Common dandelion, Taraxacum officinale

Sword fern, Polystichum munitum

Common nettle, Urtica dioica

Common dandelion, Taraxacum officinale

Bigleaf maple, Acer macrophyllum. Common nettle, Urtica dioica below.

Unknown species, posted on iNaturalist

Licorice fern, Polypodium glycyrrhiza

Dull Oregon grape, Mahonia nervosa

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 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