June 05, 2012


May 12, 2012

(see pg. 31-36 for sketches and context)
~high 50s, sunny, no cloud, no wind
Skykomish Scenic River:
This was our first stop on the field trip. We arrived around 9am and it was already warming up. The area was at low elevation, next to a river. There was a wide flood zone with mostly thimble berries, salmon berries, small leaf maples, and hazelnuts. The cottonwood was right next to the river covered in sand. We saw a western trumpet honeysuckle. One of the most interesting thing i learned was about scotch brooms. The stigma is inside of the flower therefore it can only be pollinated by a very heavy bumblebee. And they're part of the pea family.

A temperate forest with a canopy of big leaf maples, conifers; both covered in moss. This area receives 2x the rainfall than Seattle. There was an immense amount of licorice fern growing on deciduous trees. There were many butterflies out that resembles the cabbage butterfly, although I could not identify them. Walking through the area, there were many wood ferns, pacific bleeding hearts, and stinging nettle. We found fungus such as the garoderma applenatum.

Money Creek Campground:
This was probably my favorite place out of the day due to the fact that this campground possesses old-growth trees. The ground was covered in forget-me-nots and devil's club as well as the trailing yellow violet. Near the river, we flipped over rocks to find larvae of all kinds, probably mayfly. I'm always excited to see these because they are indicators species. This campground is not polluted. We stopped to talk about the wild ginger for a long time and I'm very surprised at how strongly they smell of ginger. Fungus we found were platismatia glauca and hypogymnia imshaigii which have inflated lobes that are hallow inside. What causes that? What benefit does having an adaptation like that do?

Tumwater Campground:
We stopped here for lunch. It was a quiet place next to the river where we found the letharia vulpina, a bright green lichen that is only present in eastern washington. The color is due to the vulpinic acid which are poisonous. This poison when ground up were used to kill wolves in the area.

This was out last stop. The temperature was in the high 80s at this point in eastern washington with no visible clouds and absolutely zero wind. The area is a woodland. The ground were diverse in plants such as yarrow, pinus poderosa, common peony, death canvas. We found two adult western fence lizard and a smaller male, I believe. These guys have blue bellies to attract females, and they show them off doing "push-ups." We caught as wester orange tip butterfly. We took a hike uphill and back down a rock wall to find douglas firs that were still covered in black dirt, reminisce of the 1998 fire. We also found indian paintbrush.

Species account:
- ramnasia
- small leaf maples
- thimble berries
- hazelnut
- sakaton
- japanese knotweed
- salmon berry
- wester trumpet honey suckle
- scotch broom
- hermit warbler
- indian plum
- snowberries
- bracken fern
- western fence lizard
- pinus ponderosa
- yarrow
- common peony
- balsam root
- plastimatia glauca
- aramadopsis
- death canvas
- western orange tip
- candeleria concolor
- letharia vulpina
- hypogymnia imshaugii
- wild ginger
- mayfly larvae
- trailing yellow violet
- algus trifollen
- douglas fir
- devil's club
- forget-me-nots
- garoderma applenatum
- pacific rens
- lady fern
- wild lettuce
- frynch cup
- stinging nettle
- wood fern
- pacific bleeding heart
- trillium
- false lily of the valley
- licorice fern
- big leaf maple
- western red cedar
- trailing blackberry
- dogwood
- sheep sorel

Posted on June 05, 2012 04:52 PM by lhuynh10 lhuynh10 | 19 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Waterfront Activities Center

May 13, 2012

(see page 37 of field notebook for sketches and context)
Weather: ~80 degrees, no cloud cover, little wind, calm waters

I spent a quick afternoon out canoeing around the Union Bay Natural Area to find many, many waterfowls and birds out. There were definitely areas of water where species of birds were absent; there was a baseball game that day with lots of noise. Some of the most common ones I saw on water are the Great Blue Herons. I passed a family of Canadian Geese with six goslings. My canoe got too close to the nest and I believe the male goose got very angry. One of my favorite birds, the red-winged blackbirds, were plentiful out with their mates and snacking on cattails. There are a couple mallards out farther into the lake, but I believe most were shovelers I couldn't identify. While canoeing back, i looked overhead to find what I believe was an eagle because the head/neck was white.

Species Account:
Mallard ducks
Great blue herons
Canadian geese
Red-winged blackbirds

Posted on June 05, 2012 04:45 PM by lhuynh10 lhuynh10 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Discovery Park

June 3, 2012

(see page 50-51 of field notebook for sketches and context)
The day was mostly cloudy with high winds mostly because the area was near waters and on high grounds. The sun was trying to break through with temperatures of about mid-50s. Most of the park in the lowlands are covered in blackberries, salmon berries, horsetails, buttercups, and ferns. The middle cover contained more salmon berries and blackberries. The high cover was mostly of deciduous such as hazelnuts and big leaf maples, but very few conifers until you reach the historic grounds. I took the Loop Trail from the north parking lot out to the lookouts into the Puget Sound. The vegetation didn't change much until I started uphill towards the location.

The vegetation surrounding the roads contain a lot of grass and weeds. The birds were very active out with American robins to crows, to seagulls. The thimble berries are blooming, however there were no pollinators. Most of the deciduous trees are back in full bloom such as the big leaf and vine maples.

The area was built on top of Fort Lawton with many of the original structures/housing still in good condition.

Species account:
Salmon berries
Deer ferns
Sword ferns
Stinging nettle
Big leaf maples
Vine maples
Himalayan blackberries
Oregon grape
Thimble berries

Posted on June 05, 2012 04:37 PM by lhuynh10 lhuynh10 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

University of Washington Greenhouse

April 3, 2012

We spent this day at the greenhouse at three stations; one specifically about chili, and the other two about plants found around the world. The botany greenhouse hold 1/10 of all diversity of plants on earth. There are "domes" of desert to tropical forests.

The first rotation included a lesson on carnivorous plants. Each pot containing different species are placed in a bog-like area, surrounded by sphagnum moss which is acidic and contain low nutrients. The venus flytrap secretes digestive juices to digest insects that land on the mouth of the trap. The stimulus to the trap closing is movement, not heat. A plant belonging to the sarracenia family has a large mouth and deep, hallow pitcher. The inside of the pitcher contain hairs that points downward essentially to trap insects that fly in. Finally, the drosera filiformis opens flat and has a surface that looks like morning dew that insects stick to if they land on it. The platycerium is a large plant that has biomorphic leaves and a shield to hug the interior. It has a foliage to add water, funneled into plant. The inside leaves that are older decompose itself to create nutrients so essentially, the plant feeds itself. One of my favorite was the dracula orchird that have gills to attract fungus. Insects lay their eggs on the plant and in turn the plant gives it pollen to pollinate. One of the larger species in the greenhouse is the welwitschia. This plant comes from the harshest of deserts. It is a gymnosperm (conifers) and a conquerer. It bears cones, can be male or female, and grows at a rate of 25mm a year. These plants can be up to 2000 yrs. old. It stores its own water for most of the year to survive. Our greenhouse "curator" actually provided this plant with more water than it receives in the wild, and it is happily thriving. One of the interesting aspect of the plant is that there is still no one who understands how its seeds are dispersed.

The second rotation was a fun lesson with miracle berries and chili. Miracle berries (common name) exists as a tropical plant that blooms in the northern hemisphere fall season. The berries are edible, but they aren't sweet. They do however change your taste for about an hour. The chemistry in this plant much like many other berry plants are created for a specific species, the species that pollinate it. If you suck out the juices of the berries and give it a light rinse around your mouth, then stick a slice of lemon in your mouth, you'll find it tastes sweeter and sweeter with every slice. These compounds masks the sour taste in lemons that humans observed. Those compounds exists in other plants as well such as chili. To birds, chili's pollinators, the plant doesn't taste spicy. The ghost chili which has capsaicin and is coated with olive oil is on of the hottest chili known to man. The spiciness you taste in chilies actually aren't what you taste. Chilies mainly affect your neurotransmitters, the same kind that tells your body to take your hand off a hot stove. Birds that pollinate chilies plants reflect capsaicin in their nerves which makes them feel no pain, or to humans the spiciness. One of the questions our professor spent his research on was, "Why aren't all chilies hot?" Well, hot chilies do not produce as much seeds in drought therefore they have selective niches. A little history i didn't know was that the Portuguese moved chilies around the world; before then chilies didn't exist anywhere else but the tropics. The advantage is that chilies are antimicrobial which is great in the tropics. (see page 9 of field notebook for sketches)

Posted on June 05, 2012 03:46 PM by lhuynh10 lhuynh10 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 04, 2012

Entomology Lab

May 3, 2012

Our Natural History class paid a visit to the entomology professor on the University of Washington campus. The first half of class was spent inside looking at specimens under microscopes and sharpening our sketching skills while the last half was spent outside near the farm at the bee observatory. Before dividing the class in half, we got a lesson on entomology, beetles, moths, and bees. Entomology is the study of insects (in theory) and land arthropods as well in reality. Insects and plants mostly evolved together and they are the most diverse organisms on the planet. We do not know how many species actually exist on Earth or how many have gone extinct, but the estimate for current living species is about 10 million. They represent a lot of natural history of the Earth because they are an important part in the food chain, especially for young salmons. Flies and dung beetles, for example, are waste recyclers. They help in soil and vegetation control, but some are most importantly pollinators. Only about 1% of them are actually pests. In the human world, insects are competitors to humans and animals for food (crop and forest pests). They are disease vectors such as mosquitos that spread malaria, but they can serve in biocontrol for agriculture. Some insects are actually nutritious so they serve as food in certain cultures and humans sometimes derive medicine from them. Most of the changes in an insect's life cycle happen during the larvae stage and when they mature to an adult, their main purpose is to reproduce.

Beetles - represent 1/3 of all insects and they are the most diverse. They have elytra (wings cases) that act as a defense mechanism, airfoil, or in aquatic beetles, they are used to exchange gas. Elytra are also the advertising mechanism for sexual selection. Some beetles are predacious, nocturnal, and small. The best way to collect beetles is to use a pitfall trap.

Moths and Butterflies - are some of the oldest things ever collected by biologists. Butterflies are actually moths; they are a specialized group. Moths are night-flyers and less colorful. Butterflies are day-flyers therefore need the colors, and most are not pests. In Washington specifically, sometimes swallow tails are mistaken for monarchs, however monarchs do not exist here. The best time to see them is late spring to summer and during the hottest part of the day. They rest under leaves when it rains. The best collection technique is to use a hand nest to practice the method of catch and release.

Bees - much like butterflies, bees are a group of wasps. They evolved tightly with plants because they are pollinators. All are stingers. They suck up nectar as an energy source when flying with a proboscis while obtaining pollen for their larvae. Pollen stick to their hair and they get rid of them by brushing/grooming it off to a pollen structure. Bees are small, drab in color and they build nests (hives). When a hive becomes too crowded, a swarm of bees will leave with the original queen to find a new location while some stay back and raise a new queen. A queen's job in a colony is to lay eggs while worker bees produce honey, care for the larvae and feed the queen. Bees do not "choose" their queen. Queens are fed more than worker bees to stimulate their sex organs while workers bees eat less to suppress their sex organs.
Bumble bees - the most conspicuous, social bees. They are often used in agriculture because they visit many, many flowers serving as a great pollinator. There are about six species in the Puget Sound area and all are intolerant to pesticides. Bumble bees can sting many times because their stinger does not break away. The current research suggests the decrease in local bumble bee population may be due to disease introduced by European bumble bees.
Honey bees - similar to bumble bees, however not native. They originated from west Asia and Africa, and have been to North America for about 300 years. Agriculture sometimes are dependent on honey bees because they are quite adaptive. You can move an entire hive to a different location without worry that their habits will be disturbed. Female honey bees are stingers (stinger break away), but males do not sting because their stinger is in a way connected to their reproduction device.

Posted on May 04, 2012 02:47 AM by lhuynh10 lhuynh10 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 02, 2012

Mt. Rainier National Park

April 28, 2012

Finally visited Mt. Rainier the second time this year for National Parks Week, no entrance fee! The sun broke through a couple times, but it remained in the low 50s most of the day with no precipitation. On the drive there, I saw the same vegetation I did four weeks ago on a class field trip with increase amounts of lichen farther away from the city centers. I stopped at Longmire for about an hour to hike the Trail of the Shadows again. There were volunteers putting soil and gravel back into the trail after the snow melts. I'm surprised to see how quick it warmed up in a month, all the snow that covered the ground was completely melted. The water in the hot spring disappeared as well. I heard a lot more birds, ranging from Steller's Jay to Red-Winged Blackbird. I also saw what I believe are flycatchers. Red-Winged Blackbird calls are unique and to me, sounds like a whistle. Most of the vegetation still looked the same, with exceptions to flowering plants due to warmer temperatures. I saw prominent skunk cabbages blooming therefore increase in pollinators which also attract more birds. Skunk cabbages grow at almost all elevations and are tolerant to mineral soil as opposed to other plants. The cones and nuts were falling off of conifers surrounding the area; that attracted the nearby squirrels. I am surprised to see, even at a national park, these squirrels are not afraid of humans. I took another drive up to Paradise, the second developed area in the park. There were 15 feet of snow cover on each side of the drive up and there were a couple to zero wildlife at that elevation. There were still enough snow to ski and snowshoe, although I did see what I thought was a crow, but maybe a raven. It had glossy black feathers and picked at wrappers or garbage that accidentally fell out of tourists' hands. The bird was quite big in size, larger than a common crow. It almost freaked me out a bit seeing it up close. I was advised by a park ranger that the best time this year, the five week window, to see wildflowers in the meadows should begin the first week of August. I plan to definitely return.

Species List:
Western skunk cabbage
Common witch's hair
Steller's jay
Red-winged blackbird
Douglas fir
Mountain hemlock
Western hemlock
Yellow cedar
Western yew
Shelf fungus (unidentified)
Alaska Cedar

Posted on May 02, 2012 01:56 AM by lhuynh10 lhuynh10 | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 01, 2012

Nisqually Wildlife Refuge

April 1, 2012

After a Saturday at Pack Forest and Mt. Rainier, we spent a Sunday at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge before heading home. The weather was windy but absolutely beautiful with sun. We started our hike on the boardwalk that took us past snowberries, songs sparrows, canadian geese, and even a great horned owl. The common species covering the ground were cattails, salmon berry, and sword ferns among others. We often heard chickadees along the way. I walked out near the waters with a classmate and discovered flocks of canadian geese, wood ducks, mallards, and many we couldn't identify due to distance. We found a gardner snake and a small green frog. Later, we saw a pair of bald eagles far in the distance with binoculars and a great blue heron. There were also hawks in the distance as well. On the way back to the visitor center, we watched a flock of buffalo head ducks and hooded mergansers. There was also a painted turtle sunbathing on a log. The area spewed with different species and in a way, it was better than going to the zoo.

Species List:
Canada Goose
Songs Sparrows
Great Blue Heron
Great Horned Owl (2)
Gardner Snake
Buffalo head ducks
Hooded morgansers
Sword fern
Alder berry
Salmon berry
Northern Shovelers
Northern pintail
American widgeon
Bald eagle (2)
Western painted turtle

Posted on May 01, 2012 05:32 PM by lhuynh10 lhuynh10 | 7 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Pack Forest and Mt. Rainier National Park

March 31, 2012

Pack Forest
We arrived at the UW Pack Forest near noon with a bit of sunshine, but still chilly. We went out on a short walk on a muddy trail from the morning rain and came back for lunch. Afterwards, we were in groups of 10 or so and set out to explore. My group and I spent a lot of time looking at the small things that covered the ground as opposed to focusing on larger conifers or deciduous. At one point, we saw a long-tailed vole that was moving under the leaves searching for food. We all gathered around to take pictures and it didn't seem to be scared. It had very small eyes and apparently not a very keen sense of smell. Only when it creeped up to a knee of a classmate did it turn away, back to its food. We also saw a tree, I believe a big leaf maple (flowers are edible), filled with vertical small holes as a result of sap suckers. We trekked on to find a red alder. Its edges on leaves are serrated and at this elevation as well as distance away from a city and it is a nitrogen-fixing plant. I learned most of the trees in general will be covered in lichen. Lichens are intolerant to pollution because they are actually made up of two organisms in a sense. There were also many, many stinky bobs around as well as step moss. A little closer into the trail, we found an ant mound near a swamp. I'm not sure what type of ants they were, but they seem to be small with a pretty large mound. (see observation notes for more information)

Species List:
Lichen, golds dusk
Scotch broom
Sword fern
Western white pine
Douglas Fir
Western Red Cedar
Western hemlock
Big leaf maple
Sweet colt's foot
Red alder
Stinky bob
Early morel
Black cotton wood
Deer fern

Mt. Rainier National Park
After a short hike at Pack Forest, we piled into vans and drove into Mt. Rainier National Park. We stopped at Longmire to hike the Trail of the Shadows. There were snow on the ground and the temperature was still in the low 40s, but sunny with little clouds. The area is a small hot spring with the ground often looking orange due the iron and carbon dioxide gas. The area also looks as much the same as it was when the Longmire family horse-backed through it in late 1800s. I wondered how that could be possible, that it should be heavily covered in conifers at least by now. Later on, i came across a sign that explained most plants in the area unlike skunk cabbage for example actually cannot grow in rich mineral areas. The iron is therefore what kept the trees and shrubs from taking over. We saw a stump of what was left over of a douglas fir that was hit by lighting, it bore a vertical black ash trail on the side. The trees farther into the distance were large in size, possibly a couple hundred years in age, as old as the national park. We didn't hear many bird calls probably because it was only very early in spring. It was a short hike overall of about a one mile loop. The history of the place was amazing and it's always a joy to be in the fifth established national park of the U.S.

Species List:
Yellow cedar
Mountain Hemlock
Western hemlock
Follios lichen
Western Yew
Alaska cedar
Skunk cabbage
Shelf fungus

Posted on May 01, 2012 05:09 PM by lhuynh10 lhuynh10 | 6 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Heron Rookery

March 29, 2012

This day was particularly rainy even for Seattle’s weather standards. 100% heavy cloud cover, low 50s, but little wind. Luckily, our class stood under a canopy of conifers near a heron rookery on the University of Washington campus. This was the first field day outside of a classroom to gain knowledge and begin practicing our plant identification, field notebook writing, and probably getting us ready to be outside this weekend on Mt. Rainier. The area overall has little foot traffic, but it is public. The ground is 70% covered in English ivy while the larger trees that created the boundary to the rookery were western red cedar, and douglas fir. The English ivy was brought over by the European settlers early on and quickly spread through any area they occupy; they are an invasive species. If growing on a tree, they often choke the tree of sunlight and in a sense steal its nutrients. Directly above where we stood were about 10-15 Great Blue Herons’ nests, on deciduous trees currently without leaves, with a couple flowering plants blooming below. The Great Blue Heron is a migratory bird that often settles in wetlands and their call is loud and somewhat scary…but unique. Someone commented that they sound like dinosaurs.

Species List:
Douglas Fir
Western Red Cedar
English Ivy
Great Blue Heron

Posted on May 01, 2012 04:51 PM by lhuynh10 lhuynh10 | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment


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