Date: Monday October 21, 2014
Weather: Overcast, windy, drizzling
Time: 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Location: Ravenna Park, just southeast of the 20th Ave NE bridge over the park
This was a gloomy, dreary Seattle day, so at first I wasn’t looking forward to my observation time very much. The wind was chilly, it was drizzling, and the sky was overcast – signs of what will be the norm for the next few months. But with all the knew knowledge I’ve gained from this class since my last observation on October 6, it was actually a pretty exciting experience to be able to see my spot in Ravenna through a new, better-informed lens.
First of all, I have discovered that my favorite plant is beaked hazelnut. I had touched the leaves of this plant before and felt how soft and fuzzy they are, but without knowing what it was, there was only momentary appreciation of a nice leaf. But it’s interesting how just being able to identify something changes your feelings toward it. Now I notice beaked hazelnut everywhere! It’s all over Seattle, and it is great to know that I am surrounded by this wonderful, fuzzy organism and can count on it’s comforting fuzziness being only a short walk away if I’m ever having a crappy day. Although I’m not sure how much longer the leaves will be there because many of them are turning yellow or look diseased with leaf miner or other pests.
In general I saw much evidence of the transition towards winter all over the area. The ground was much wetter from the more frequent rains. There was also leaf litter everywhere, especially from bigleaf maple and western redcedar trees. This leaf litter along with fallen branches and logs were showing signs of decomposition with the appearance of the first mushrooms I have noticed on the site. Many other plants were showing color changes, including some salal which is pictured below. Also, most of the large spiders with beautiful circular webs that I had been noticing throughout the park have disappeared, which is unfortunate since we were supposed to document invertebrates for the journal assignment today…oh well. However, I have recently learned more about these cool spiders, commonly known as cross spiders, or European garden spiders. Here is a description of their web weaving from that link:
“The very act of web spinning by a Cross Orbweaver is a captivating feat of instinctual engineering. She begins by floating a line on the wind to a nearby surface. She secures the line and then drops another from the center, making a “Y”. The rest of the scaffolding follows, all constructed with the spider’s nonsticky silk. Once the radii are in place, the spider can move from strand to strand, attaching the spiral of sticky capture silk.
Web-building requires some special equipment — web spinners craft webs using three claws, two to place silk and one to navigate the spider on the nonsticky threads. Spider silk, a very strong and resilient spun protein fiber, is not simply for web building and capturing prey; Spiders also rely on silk as climbing rope to travel and to aid in quick escapes.”
I found two species that I may have photographed before, but could not identify: tall Oregon grape and vine maple.
For the other part of this observation, we were supposed to find as many invertebrates as possible, and sketch 5 of them. Honestly I had a lot of trouble with this. Of course I found many invertebrates, but most of them were extremely tiny things that I could barely see. The best description I could offer about these is the flying ones looked like flying white dots, and the crawling ones looked like crawling white dots. However, I eventually found 5 invertebrates that I could see in more detail.
The first one was a mosquito. It was hanging from a leaf by two of its legs and at first it was rubbing its other pairs of legs together, possibly to clean them. It had two translucent wings that were about a half inch long. In comparison its head was tiny and barely visible. The legs all came out of the thorax, which was hunched forward at it’s connection to the abdomen. The thorax looked furry.
I also found a spider, but not the European garden spider. This spider was weaving a web among some leaves. I noticed its legs had three major segments, and the back half of its abdomen sported a complex pattern of stripes and spots that I couldn’t really see the details of.
I found a tiny worm hanging off of the end of a fern. It was really interesting to watch because it was waving back and forth very intentionally from the tip of this leaf. It had three visible sections: a translucent head, a yellow portion right behind that, and a brown tail portion. Eventually the worm stopped waving and squirmed back onto the leaf.
I found several pillbugs crawling among the decaying material on the forest floor. Pillbugs have an exoskeleton of gray segments that looks like interlocking pieces of a knight’s armor. As it crawls around, it waves its front antennae to smell what is around. It’s face is a very small black part of the front section. When it feels threatened, for example by my poking it with a pencil, the pillbug rolls up into a ball, protecting its soft underbelly.
The final invertebrate I found was an earthworm. It was light brown with parallel grooves down the length of its body, except for the pale band near the head which produces eggs. It moved by contracting and expanding the segments of its body in order to tunnel through the soil.