Sunday, October 14, 2007

Olympic Vegetation

It took me awhile longer to get to this than I thought it would. These are just a few of the interesting vegetation (does fungus count as vegetation? I know it's not a plant...) I saw on my trip to Olympic National Park.

Subalpine spirea (Spiraea densiflora). A different species of spirea is common around the puget sound, but I think this may be the first time I've noticed this species in the wild (I haven't spent much time at high elevations around here).

This mushroom seems a bit unusual. I saw it half under a log not far from the trailhead. The brown and white both seemed to be fairly well stuck on and I didn't see any obvious environmental causes for the difference in coloration.

This was probably my favorite vegetative find on the trip. The seed head just looks so cool. Unfortunately I was unable to figure out what kind of plant it is. Probably would have been easier if I knew what the flowers look like or if I had a book about the vegetation on the peninsula instead of the more general books I have.

The leaves that go along with the seed head above. Please let me know if you have ideas as to what it is.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Owl by the Lake

I've been a little tense and stressed lately - trying to find a new place to live, dealing with showings of my apartment, increased hours at work, deadlines looming for volunteer projects. Sitting inside pretty much all day. So this evening when I didn't feel up to dealing with that stuff anymore for the day and was just about to sit down to the computer to try and relax, on a whim I went for a walk around the lake instead.

Fall has definitely come to Seattle. Leaves are turning colors and falling and there is an added crispness to the air (though tonight it was relatively warm). Seeing the lake in the fall was a big factor in me choosing the area to move to, but I haven't been out to enjoy it much this year.

For the most part, I took my time going around, interested in trying to see wildlife. I didn't see much until I got to the northwest corner of the lake and noticed a large form in a tree branch just over the lake. It had a round head and what appeared to be a long (for what I would expect on an owl) tail and was a bit larger than a crow. It was quite dark so I was unable to discern any colors. It sat on the branch, mostly looking down towards the ground, though it would turn its head to glance at people as they passed by on the trail behind me. It was fun to watch it turn around on its perch at it would turn its head then with head still would turn its body, a very fluid motion. After I'd been there a few minutes it flew to another perch several feet away. I didn't have as good a view of it there and felt a little conspicuous right on the edge of the trail so got up and walked back down the trail, then looped back through the grass behind a tree to try not to disturb it while getting a better view. Apparently though, my attempt to be quiet walking through the grass sounded like something good to eat because no sooner had I squatted down but the owl flew around the tree and at me. An arms reach away, I could feel the air off its wings as it beat back away from me and off into another branch. I watched it in that branch for quite awhile before it flew away again, this time much further, and I decided to move on myself. Throughout the time I watched it I was struck by its patience. It was exciting to imagine the poor critters that would move about in the dark only to be pounced upon by the owl lurking above.