Friday, April 20, 2012

I've fallen way behind in my goal of describing the park on a daily basis.  Today, the new growth on all the plants raced ahead.  Some berries are beginning to form on the salmonberry.  Little white moths are flitting about everywhere.  The alders have leafed out and the maples are dropping flower clusters.  The vine maples have their tiny little flowers.  Very few trees or shrubs still have bare branches.  The garry oaks are the only ones I can think of that haven't put forth their first leaves.  The spruce trees have bright green paint brushes of new growth.  Even the bindweed is starting to shoot up.  Many little insects are appearing, and I fear I am missing opportunities to catalog them. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Today is the 103rd day of the year, and I have 99 species photographed and identified on Project Noah.  I have certainly seen and identified more than 103 species even though I haven't fully documented them.  I had better get cracking because I did all the easy species first. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tonight we came up through the park right around sunset, and I searched the canopy for owls.  While I was looking around, a barred owl blasted us with hoots directly overhead.  He was invisible to me until he spoke up.  The barred owl will be added to my list of species that I have seen and identified definitely, but I can't submit to Project Noah because getting a picture is difficult if not impossible.  There are other species that I can photograph but not definitely identify so far.  If I reach my goal of 365 species this year, the final Project Noah numbers might not reflect that. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

The tide was -2.3 feet today.  I saw strange creatures in the tide pools, and managed to photograph a few.  Pictures from today can be seen here.  The seep had skunk cabbage, stink currant, horse tail, lady fern, and Indian plum, all bursting forth.  I may have gotten a bit of a sunburn.  The wild cucumber is sending forth its new shoots.

Friday, April 6, 2012

This evening I saw Venus before sunset.  At sunset, I took this picture of Venus, but you can't really see it with the iPhone.  Zoomed in and cropped, Venus is about the size of one pixel, seeming to rest on the branch.  As we continued our walk, I saw Jupiter, Mars, and Sirius.  I eventually saw Orion come out as the sky got darker.  It was a calm, clear night, with just a few clouds.  The dogs seemed not to notice the pure blue sky, the graceful arc of the alder branches, or the coppery color of Mars.  The sniffed urine and nibbled on grass, and they thought that was a bunch of fun.  So much beauty goes to waste.  Or perhaps I don't properly appreciate the art of urine.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A hummingbird zipped around the currants near the parking lot.  I didn't have my good camera.  I stood still for several minutes and watched as he sipped a tiny amount from each of dozens of flowers.  It's hard to imagine that the minute quantities of nectar supplied enough calories to zip around like that, but I guess weighing about the same as a nickel makes it easier.  He flashed green and ruby in the afternoon sun.  I looked around, hoping to see his nest, but I couldn't find one.  Some of the currants, the ones that weren't butchered, are covered in blossoms.  The ice storm in January does not seem to have harmed them.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

We went to the beach at sunset, but it was a uniform, featureless gray-blue.  We did see Venus, very bright in the hazy blue sky.  The moon also came up as we were hiking back up the trail. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The rocks of ELP have been through hell.  Many times.  These rocks might be as young as 100 years old, as in the case of petrified wood, but most of them are millions of years old.  I would venture that none of these rocks are billions of years old, in their present form.  The location on Earth where ELP now sits was once the middle of the ocean.  These rocks were once molten magma deep inside the Earth.  The actual atoms within the rocks may have started in the Earth's mantle, been spewed out as lava, been churned back into the mantle by plate tectonics, and gone through that cycle hundreds of times.  Before that, the atoms in these stones, as well as the atoms in your body, were forged in the furnace of a distant star that exploded.  Although these stones are millions of years old, on average, they are constantly renewed and recycled by the Earth. 

In comparison, the forest at ELP is very young, at about nine or ten thousand years.  Over the centuries, Puget Sound will become a lake, and it may even become a desert if the Olympics grow into a mountain range like the Cascades and cut off the flow of moisture from the ocean.  If North America is moving southwest at a pace of 1 cm per year, and the accretion of material from the pacific plate builds up at about the same rate, then in a million years, the Pacific Coast will be six miles further west of ELP than it is today.  (Maybe.  Who knows if my math is right.)  ELP can't last forever as a healthy forest.  Maybe thirty or forty thousand years would be a lot to ask.  My hope is that it could last at least five thousand years, and the yew trees I've planted could live their entire natural life spans. 

Will anything we do today matter in a million years?  Most definitely.  Species are going extinct at the fastest pace in the history of the Earth.  Human are causing the Sixth Extinction.  It's already too late for millions of species, but other species might survive if we change our ways.  Millions of species will never evolve if we kill them off today.  Locally, ELP can't survive for a million years if we don't improve its health today.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Fifteen people took a tour of Seahurst Park today, to see the trilliums and skunk cabbage.  We saw about 400 trillium flowers on a two mile loop of the upper portion.  We also saw a portion of the park about the size of Eagle Landing Park that was completely free of invasive species.  That is my goal for ELP: free of invasive species and hundreds of trilliums.  It would require a different ethos of the visitors to the park.  The trilliums in Seahurst Park survive because relatively few people expend the time and energy to walk that two mile loop.  Fortunately.  Trilliums near the trail in ELP have mostly died out.  It would be a sign the ELP was headed in the right direction if the trail could be lined with beautiful native flowers, and visitors wouldn't take them or trample them.  Although I would love to walk a flower-lined trail, I don't plant wildflowers beside the trail because I know it would be a waste.  I should say, I don't plant them any more.  Previous efforts to beautify the park have been destroyed.  Now, I plant tough native species that can handle abuse, and I don't plant anything near the trail.