Monday, June 28, 2010

Moss Animals

Wandered up and down Rialto Beach on Sunday, in rainy murky weather, looking at the seashore life in the wrack-line, arraying selected algae and invertebrates for group photographs. There were pieces of ostrich-plume hydroid everywhere, and lots of kinds of seaweed. I had forgotten the book. I thought a lot about featheriness: tubeworms in the tidepools have feathery parts; and the sea-cucumber (which is an echinoderm, not a plant) used to wave its plumy bits around sometimes for the long-gone underwater kelp forest cameras on Orca-Live. OK then, so our feathery-looking hydroid (which is in the Cnidaria, one of the two Phyla which the Coelenterates we learned about as children were divided into).

Anyway, plants and animals, and animals with plant-y names—

and for that matter the roadside plants with menagerie names which are at the height of their flowering right now, cow-parsnip and foxglove and goatsbeard and skunk-cabbage everywhere and I thought of taking portraits of those too but never quite stopped the car to do it—

There was a lot of seaweed, and those hydroids, and something else that also looked like algae but also turned out to be a colonial animal, branch-spined bryozoans. The Bryozoa are their own phylum, and are commonly known as moss animals. I thought I had a picture of some, but I must have moved the camera. There's a scrap of some branch-spined bryozoa in the upper right corner of this picture (click for larger image):

I suspected the white stuff at the top of the frame of being slimy. Something was slimy, every time I went picking through the wrack and laying out bits of life, my fingers got all icky and it didn't much work to try to wipe them off on my raingear.

The purple bumpy plant on the left is turkish towel :-) It's a source of carageenan. (Click for larger image.)
Rockweed and feather-boa kelp (Click for larger image.)

The weather got brighter and brighter for a while. It was almost sunny. I shed several layers and went back to the car for walk-in-the-water shoes.

Walked in the water. Four pelicans passed by.

Two Glimpses of Citizen Science

The Value of Dead Bird Watching, an article about the seabird wreck last fall and about Julia Parrish, the founder of COASST (the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team); it's by Eric Wagner, the writer I took out to Kalaloch on a COASST survey last fall,

and another profile of Julia, Redefining the term ‘Hip to be Square’… Introducing Dr. Julia Parrish.

Monday, June 21, 2010

It's an Animal??(!)

Ostrich-plume hydroid? Aglaophenia spp.?? Phylum Cnidaria, Class Hydrozoa, Subcl. Leptothecata, Order Conica, Family Aglaopheniidae.

Thank-you Beachwatchers, SeaNet, Oceanlight.

Oh drat, I'm going to have to go back to the coast a.s.a.p. to make sure. I wonder where the hand lens is...

Same as in post below. Now suspected of being an Ostrich-plume Hydroid. (Click for larger image.)

Neap Tide, Low Swell, Rain

No surf to speak of, rain on and off. No beached birds.

James Island and Little James Island from the beach along Rialto Jetty (Click for larger image.)

An eagle comes in off the ocean, carrying a gull; lands on a drift log; immediately begins tearing at the carcass (if indeed it's dead yet), tossing aside feathers.

Eagle standing on his prey, Rialto Beach. (Color adjusted for visibility, it was much foggier than this.)

I watch the wrack carefully: fresh bits of seaweeds, green red brown. Thin sheets of red bright from a distance, becoming undistinguished close to; rockweed pops underfoot.

It's ridiculous that I can't figure out what sort of seaweed this is... (Click for larger image.)

Very little trash—the tide of marine debris which washed in from the North Pacific garbage patch in April and May has been pulled away again, or buried in the rising summer beach. Ellen Creek is ponded behind the fresh berm. I wander up and down the slope of my two assigned segments of Rialto Beach, Rialto Jetty and Ellen Creek, looking for beached birds. It's summer in what is after all a National Park: there are footprints absolutely everywhere.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Reading News

Reading funny little books: Lyanda Lynn Haupt's Crow Planet, which has led me to actually momentarily notice the crows on the wires outside my windows instead of automatically looking past them, and to sundry bad news climate change trains of thought. She points out that the current estimates are that the arctic will be ice-free by 2030, when her daughter will be 31 (and my great-niece Baby J. will be 20). Michael Pollan says (Haupt quotes this article), "Have you looked into the eyes of a climate scientist recently? They look really scared."

And William Zinsser's 1982 gem, Writing with a Word Processor, in which a dinosaur writing giant faces the future by Learning Something New, gracefully and with charm ("...this is how much of America's daily writing will be done in five years. If I'm an oddity in our office today, I'll be part of the landscape tomorrow.").

And little bits of Denise Levertov's Relearning the Alphabet, part of the poetry collection donated to the college library that I spent the last weeks of the quarter evaluating. OMG, how did I not know Levertov before it was part of my job to sort Barbara Lovell's 17 boxes of poetry??

I continue, by the way, not consuming soda in cans and bottles. Even after two months, I fritter a certain number of days down the tubes for lack of the ability to pop a can of coke and kick myself into gear. It took me all day yesterday to get to the laundromat. #730aluminnumcansperyear #notproducedonmybehalf

And yes, carbon footprint notwithstanding, I'm still going to drive to the outer coast today, do my monthly beached bird survey for the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST), and listen to the ocean. It will be gray and quiet out there (First Beach webcam), and perhaps rainy. There likely won't be any beach-cast bird carcasses to record.

I'll read; bring Fire and Hemlock, a Diana Wynne Jones paperback I bought, to read if it is threatening to be wet. Otherwise keep on with China Miéville's The City and the City.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

There Was Some Sun

Running about the Peninsula for two days. There was some sun.

Spruce Nature Trail, Hoh Rain Forest, June 16, 2010 (Click for larger image.)
Hall of Mosses, Hoh Rain Forest, June 16, 2010 (Click for larger image.)

The days are very long. When we got within reach of home, we darted up onto Hurricane Ridge, ignoring what appeared to be clouds and fog up there, just in case we could see. Good move.

The view from Hurricane Ridge, 06/16/10 (Click for larger image.)

Monday, June 14, 2010

No Longer Even the Top of The News

The NOAA spill trajectory maps come from here: This is where the visualization web site, If It Was My Home... gets its data.

The BP underwater cam with the clearest view at the moment is Skandi ROV2.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Minus Tide

Although I'm now older than dirt, and more inert with every day that passes, certain kinds of geographical questions will still push me to considerable efforts. Some things I just have to know... Up at 4AM this morning. The goal was to be out of the house by 5AM, and on the trail to Second Beach by 6:30AM, just in case this morning's 8:10AM minus-2.3 tide made it possible to walk out to Crying Lady Rock (on March 6)(on May 30).

So away I drove in a beautiful nearly-sunrise morning, and out to the gray slightly drizzly West End. I was only a few minutes behind my planned schedule, threaded through the surprisingly gloomy forest, and was down on the beach by 7:35AM. The tide was already astonishingly low. Yes you could walk on the bottom of the sea, walk walk walk far out towards a horizon full of sea stacks, until you could easily see everything from an entirely different angle. The waves were washing in an inch tall the way they do at low tide on such a flat beach,

but no, not enough sand has been brought back onto the beach by summer conditions to make a walkway to Crying Lady. A moat of water around it still, which I hadn't the nerve to try to cross. Not me, nor any of the other walkers...

No pictures. The camera wouldn't turn on. Metaphysical catastrophe: is a day happening if I can't take a picture of it?

Put the camera away, pulled out the binoculars. Thought I saw a line of pelicans, flying north, way out to sea. Silhouetted cormorant. Eagle action, including one who was apparently building a nest up on Crying Lady Rock somewhere; came sailing in with a twiggy branch in its talons and disappeared into the trees on top of the rock. Would that have been Mr. Eagle or Mrs. Eagle, or do they both furnish the nest??

I wandered around on the bottom of the sea for a couple of hours, then ambled back up the trail. OK, truth, less than two hours. Having the camera broken made me antsy to get home to find out what was wrong with it, and I was mostly satisfied already. And sleepy. So I headed home.

A couple of rangers came down to the beach as I was leaving. I asked one of them if there was any likelihood that by the next month's minus tides there might be more sand, enough to walk out to the big rock. He said probably not, 'it looks like we've had some erosion'... Which is a non-answer, more or less. He did not say, 'no, because by June the beach is what it is going to be for the summer'. I think he didn't know.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Day Like This

Suddenly it was a perfect weather day. And I spent it mostly around home, doing this and that. Then it was late afternoon. I popped out on the porch to take a picture of the crucial 10 degrees of my horizon,

Looking at the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Off the Bottom of H Street (Click for larger image.)

then headed for Ediz Hook. There were a lot of people out. It's reassuring really that so many people need to go watch the ship traffic on beautiful blue evenings.

Port Angeles Harbor, Mount Angeles, Klahane Ridge (Click for larger image.)

Golden Princess came steaming by, slowed to drop off her pilot, and heading on out to Alaska. (In addition to the cruise ship, a gull, and a cobble henge built by some previous ship watcher, Mount Baker appears in this picture. I'm sorry, I don't know how to adjust the image so the mountain stands out.)

Even though by then a second cruise ship was visible in the distance, the pilot boat (Puget Sound) came zipping back in, barely stopped long enough at the dock to drop off the pilot, and rushed back out onto the Strait to meet Holland America Rotterdam and retrieve her pilot too.

It was windy. I went out to the end of the small boat dock to get these pictures. It was bouncing and rocking so hard the water splashed up onto my shoes.

In the Nearby Forest

There's a houseguest coming who wants to walk in the woods, and doesn't care about ocean (how is this possible?), so I've been scouting. I got stuck at the tribal library until about 3:30 PM on Friday, but that left like 6 more hours of daylight in the day. So I held to my plan to head west and walk on the Barnes Creek Trail, about a half hour west of home. Just as the trail book promises, all the tourists turned aside to go up to Marymere Falls, and I had the trail to myself beyond.

Lowland forest, Barnes Creek Trail, June 11, 2010 (Click for larger image.)

There were lots of forest wildflowers open. Mostly white, and mostly with unfamiliar Latin names and undistinguished or peculiar English names. Hello, youth-on-age. Hello, western false bugbane. Hello, trefoil foamflower and beadruby. Whoever you all may be. It seemed at the moment important to know what the trees, the ferns, the flowers were. I carried two books in my hand, and scribbled a list on an old envelope.

Lady fern unfurling (Click for larger image.)
Maianthemum dilatatum (Click for larger image.)

Towards the end, there was sunshine light.

The Days Are Incredibly Long

The sunset on Friday was 9:14 PM. (The latest sunset will be 9:17 PM and arrive on June 19.) This morning the earliest sunrise arrived, 5:13 AM.

It was cloudy to the northwest around sunset, so down here Port Angeles was already in shadow. But southwards the near rampart of the Olympics was still in the light.

Mount Angeles, 09:08 pm Friday. (Click for larger image.)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


Twitter's been broken for about an hour. I feel, uh, muffled. Hello world, are you there? I can't hear you.

Ferry on the Strait

Shifted my desk arrangement, the better to keep one eye on the Strait. This morning it's gray out, but when the air is clear...

Coho on the Strait, heading home, 8:30 PM or so, June 7, 2010. (Click for larger image.)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

That Was Then

Here are the Park's two glaciation animations. No longer on their website, alas, so I can't point you to the webpages. But repeating them here so they are not lost.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Marmots, There Were Marmots Out

At 11 AM Monday, as I told twitter, "Hmmm. Turned up #atthecollege for a database training that seems to have been de-scheduled. Not expected back #atthetribe Hmmm..." So I went up onto Hurricane Ridge, to see with my own eyes how the melting is coming along. It's coming along. There were no flowers, the grass was greening up quite satisfactorily below the visitor center, there were marmots out, there were marmots out. Walked down the road towards the Hurricane Hill trailhead, but the hill was covered in fog.

From the Visitor Center, Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park (Click for larger image.)
Here There Be Marmots (Click for larger image.)
Deer on a Snow Bank, Pretending It's Still Winter (Click for larger image.)

OK, so you can't really see the marmot. Last year when V. was here we had one almost in our laps out at Obstruction Point, right next to the car.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Fine Short Hike

Sol Duc Falls is one of the marquee sights of Olympic National Park. If you make a photomosaic of only three scenes, one of the three would be Sol Duc Falls. On the cover of every third tourist brochure. (The other two: Mt. Olympus, and a wild beach.) Short hike, nice forest, big bang view at the end.

Sol Duc Falls (Click for larger image.)

Only day hikers visible in the late morning on Saturday. You can go on from the bridge across the river at the falls to connect to the Deer Lake Trail into the high country: High Divide, Little Divide, and onward. But the Park's Trail Conditions page tells us, "Deep snow remains in the high country. Route-finding can be difficult." "Deep continuous snow." Unlikely anyone is heading that way yet.

Ancient Groves Nature Trail, Sol Duc Road (Click for larger image.)

Not a whole lot of woods plants in bloom yet, either. Mostly violets. One trillium. It had been raining, and the flowers were less than pristine. I took lots of pictures of ferns just in the middle of unfurling, but I was so into fresh green unfurling on a fresh green background that none of the photos read clearly.

This is not rainforest country, the dominant trees are douglas firs. Um, yeah, tall ones.


is the same river where, a couple of river miles below this absolute barrier, the Quillayute-Sol Duc Summer Coho salmon (see WDFW's Salmonid Stock Inventory) spawn in the side creeks around river miles 61 to 63; where they jump up the Salmon Cascades at river mile 59. Oh they jump. Not right now. October is good:

October, 2007, Salmon Cascades. My first best jumping fish picture. (Click for larger image.)