Last Journal

Location: Yesler Swamp - 3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle, WA 98195
Time: Saturday, December 3rd at 1:12-2:47
Temperature: 42-43F
Weather: Sunny

Some Willows appear to just be barely hanging onto their yellow, oblong leaves. The reed canary grass is tall and overgrown appearing lush. Whereas, the appearance now is less of a vibrant lush green; part of the grass area has died. The grass area has lost some volume and height. In past journals I noted the prevalence of Osloberry, red huckleberry, bittersweet nightshade, himalayan blackberries, and snowberry. Snowberry is the one I currently am still able to see and Himalayan blackberries. Whereas, Osloberry, red huckleberry, and most of the bittersweet nightshade have died off. I’ve seen more fungi on the site or at least there are some more visible. The most prevalent fungi appears to be the Willow fungi. There was more organic litter overall in the site, mainly of decaying leaves falling. Towards the back of the site and even near the water the foliage has visibly thinned out. The tree canopy in the back has opened up. I could hear more American Crows by their cah cah sound but I kept looking around for them but only saw them briefly fly overhead. Down by the water I was lucky enough to see a Great Blue Heron perched on a snag in the middle of the water. It was not at all disturbed by the presence of humans. In the water for the past couple of weeks I have been able to see Hooded mergansers with there being more males with their black and white mohawk and just one brown toned Hooded merganser. I was able to see one Wood duck identifiable by its 3D half circle top head and beaty red eyes. There were mainly Gadwalls in the water identifiable by their pale brown/gray body with its back tail being black with a band of white. Compared to previous visits at the site the amount of birds in the water was low. The Song Sparrow bird species has remained consistent whether I visually see them or I hear their bird calls the twi twi twii sound. Towards the entrance of the boardwalk into the site I noticed there is an accumulation of water. The pond water has now pushed further into the stand than what I thought would occur. I’m able to see more evidence of Beaver presence with around now, 3 visible trees that, near the bottom, have their bark unevenly carved into by teeth. I was able to see a Red-breasted nuthatch flying around the trees. I usually hear or notice squirrels however, during this trip to the site I did not see any. Because of the less foliage, there is more sunlight in the site even in the back of the site, where the foliage is thicker in previous visits the shade can be greater. There are still some Vine Maples on the site. I believe they were one of the firsts to change leaf color. I definitely noticed there are less bugs such as mosquitos and flies around the swamp as compared to visits earlier in the year. It was unique to be able to observe just how much Yesler Swamp has changed over a couple of months.

(Image above is my first observation of spatial scale at 1sq. Meter closescale)

(The image above is my most recent observation of spatial scale 1 sq. Meter closescale).

(The image above is my first observed spatial scale of 50 sq. Meters broadscale)

(The image above is my most recent observed spatial scale of 50 sq. Meters broadscale)
Part 2

(The image above is of Horsetail growing in October).
I chose Horsetails because throughout my multiple visits I was able to see how the species progressed. They would grow and be the color shown above and then recently they gradually buckled under the weight; the bottlebrush portion became a gray, brown color.

(The image above is two Northwestern pond turtles perched on a pipe).
I chose the Northwestern pond turtles because I rarely get the chance to see turtles in their natural habitat. It’s probably the one species I looked for the most when I visited.

(The image above is a Song Sparrow on the lookout near the ground).
I chose the Song Sparrow because I could consistently find it at my site. Even if I couldn’t see it I was able to tell its call.

(The image above is Reed canary grass just off the boardwalk).
I chose reed canary grass because it was always abundant in Yesler Swamp. Although the majority in the stand have wilted there are still some prevalent in the swamp.

Part 3

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

I think it was interesting to even establish a relationship with Yesler Swamp. I’ve always wanted to have a “spot” that I could continuously and consistently visit. This class forced me to have time to, create a relationship with Yesler Swamp. My weekly observations have allowed me to have a baseline knowledge. To later go out into the field, I was able to recognize and see what I was being taught. I’m not going to lie, sometimes it was a hassle going to the site. The first time observing Yesler Swamp was exciting because I knew very little about it. Then, the newness wore off and it was just having to go to the site. After going multiple times throughout the quarter it established that routine. Each observation I’m able to identify something new even if it wasn’t a new plant species, it was seeing the changes in color, or the presence of which bird.

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. (if you were working outside of the region, due to COVID-19, feel free to interpret this more freely to the region you are in, if that makes sense).

Throughout the quarter I have been able to learn more about Indigneous culture. I’ve learned and been given the knowledge to spot where Indigenous people have managed and landscaped the Puget Sound. Even going to different sites being able to learn the history behind it. I grew up somewhat near Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge and have been there before but I didn’t have the knowledge such as identifying birds, seeing frogs, learning what an estuary is, or even the history behind the site. To piggyback on a little bit of my answer to question 1, I’ve been able to learn more in depth about the Puget sound and it has opened my eyes a little bit to the ecology of Puget Sound. Prior to this class I knew very little about mycology and since watching Simard’s Ted talk in combination with Professor Billo’s teachings, I’m able to grasp that mycorrhizal fungi communicate and send messages to surrounding trees that allow for collective survival.

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 viewpoints in the mountains, and how does repeated observation at a small scale inform your understanding of areas further afield? (if, due to COVID-19, you have never observed nature outside of your journal site, then just think about your journal site. If your other experience with nature was outside of the region, then think about comparisons to broader scales).

To be able to continuously visit and build a relationship with my site. The more I visited the more I got to know Yesler Swamp. To intimately know a natural place is to recognize aspects in the site. To have experience in observing the natural site and recognize patterns. You’ll never fully understand or know everything that happens in the site. So, you’ll forever be learning and discovering about the site.I personally believe there is as much to be gained from closely observing nature in the city than compared to further out in the field. I think every piece of nature has something to teach you. Both offer you different kinds of observations. For me personally because I live in the city it's more accessible to learn and observe from the city parks. So therefore, the observations and information from mountains and further out in the field are harder to come by. Because there is a connection between nature even between small-scale and broad scale, I’ll have common ground or knowledge that I can take further afield.

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, and how have you changed from week 1 to week 10?
Personally my most important outcome is being able to identify plant species, mycology, and birds within the area. I lived in the Puget Sound region for a while and now I’m able to identify and connect more with what is going on in the Puget Sound. It is nice to mix it up for classes. I rarely get the opportunity to make observations in nature. Other class teachings are heavily lecture based in the classroom. Week 1 I could identify a little bit of plants but now in week 10 I am able to identify plants I commonly come across. A little random but I have a better grasp on how to get the best use out of binoculars. Before I would bend the binoculars to zoom in and it would be sort of a struggle. Learning the history of Puget Sound has been beneficial just to have that insite of course some of it still relates to today. Thinking about how much the landscape of Seattle has transformed because of human intervention. Nature observations have taught me more insight into the ecology of the land. Had I not taken the class I doubt I would be able to take the knowledge I was taught and apply it to the observations I was making over the course of the past 10 weeks.

5) Has your overall perception of nature and natural history, and the place of humans in nature, changed this quarter? Please incorporate insight from personal observation, guest lectures, and/or readings.
I think it is commonly perceived that there is wilderness. However, I believe it was Captain Vancouver’s passage about the PNW that made me realize that to define nature as wilderness is sort of choosing to ignore the management and techniques indigenous people have done to the land. In Braiding Sweetgrass Kimmerer asks their students essentially do they believe humans can make a positive impact with nature or do they belong in nature. It made me pause because my answer would’ve been no. Kimmerer pointed out how in academia it focuses so heavily on the negative impacts humans have on the environment. This is true even for what I’ve been taught the only positive impact humans have had on the environment that I can think of is prescribed burnings. In a way Kimmerer and this class have expanded my perception of humans place in nature. While some people will wholeheartedly believe people are the most harmful to the environment there is no denying that there is a connection between nature and humans.

Publicado el 08 de diciembre de 2022 por danii_s danii_s


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