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Field Notes

Covering the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest

April 25, 2013 at 7:00 AM

An unexpected urban nature story

Sometimes nature can wow you, often at an unexpected moment. Most outdoors lovers have a story about a surprise display of natural action on a hike, a fishing expedition or a mushroom hunt. But in the Puget Sound area, with nature surrounding the metropolitan footprint, sometimes that unexpected moment can happen right in your front yard.  That’s…

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April 23, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Two desert beauties protected under ESA

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will protect two desert plants under the Endangered Species Act, the agency announced Monday. Umtanum desert buckwheat and White Bluffs bladderpod have two things in common. Both have a sunny yellow color bright as the desert environment they inhabit. And both are rare, occupying a narrow band of the bluffs…

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April 22, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Wildflowers now in bloom in Columbia River Gorge

We’ve waited, and now we get our reward: Wildflowers are just coming into bloom. Need some sun and flowers? Head to the Columbia River Gorge to enjoy the spectacular bloom now underway. I met up with long time native plant activist Rob Cavanaugh of Olympia last week at his camp in the Klickitat, where he has enjoyed the spring bloom every year for some 35 years.

Rob Cavanaugh heads out from his camp to enjoy the wildflowers at the peak of spring bloom. Note his carved and painted staff, a trusty friend.  Photo by Douglas MacDonald

Rob Cavanaugh heads out from his camp to enjoy the wildflowers at the peak of spring bloom. Note his carved and painted staff, a trusty friend.
Photo by Douglas MacDonald

He very often takes his paints along for a little en plein air appreciation. This time, he kept it simple and just showed up with Ceasar, his terrier, and his camping gear. He was planning to stay several weeks, just to enjoy the flowers, and whatever might come with each day. Perhaps the call of a great horned owl, or mid-air ballet by pairs of courting ravens.

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April 18, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Elwha river reborn red? More on “Beautiful clouds of goo”

Here are some more amazing shots of the red goo phenom on the Elwha River, from Anna Torrance and Heidi Hugunin, fish techs for the National Park Service. They are out on the Elwha all the time, monitoring the river’s response as the dams come down, and have documented their observations extensively.

Including the red goo art made by the river.

This lovely rock is the Elwha's artistry, captured by Anna Torrance and Heidi Hugunin as they walk the Elwha in their monitoring work.

This lovely rock is the Elwha’s artistry, captured by Anna Torrance and Heidi Hugunin as they walk the Elwha in their monitoring work.

And here is another:

And here is another...goopy red goo can be beautiful, as Anna Torrance and Heidi Hugunin show with their photograph

Goopy red goo can be beautiful, as Anna Torrance and Heidi Hugunin show with their photograph

Anyone visiting the Elwha river at the former Elwha Dam site and Lake Aldwell has probably scratched their head at this sight: Gloppy, oozy, red gunk on the bottoms of feeder streams to the river and pools along it.

Red glob covers the bottom of a stream entering the Elwha -- a puzzling sight to many visitors.  Doug MacDonald photo

Red goo covers the bottom of a stream entering the Elwha — a puzzling sight to many visitors.
Doug MacDonald photo

Red staining of the same color also is on river rocks. On roots. On anything that is in the sand and gravel along the banks in some places. What’s causing it?

I invited Andy Ritchie, Elwha Restoration Project Hydrologist of the National Park Service to weigh in with an explanation, and did he ever. Here’s Andy:

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April 16, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Just in time for spring: a wildflower app from the Burke Herbarium

Something new for your hikes: a wildflower app, designed in consultation with local native plant experts. The Herbarium at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, authors of Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest and High Country Apps have partnered to produce the new Washington Wildflowers identification app for iOS and Android mobile devices. With images,…

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April 12, 2013 at 7:00 AM

A possible tsunami artifact at Discovery Bay?

Cindy Beckett was driving along Thursday morning when she and her husband spotted something red on the beach at Discovery Bay. Intrigued, they pulled over to check it out. “We’re beach combers, so we had to have a look,” said Beckett, who lives in Port Townsend. “We are always looking for treasure. We are still looking.” But…

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0 Comments | Topics: tsunami debris

April 10, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Class is in session: nature/enviro writing workshop, at the Burke

The Burke’s annual daylong workshop on environmental writing kicks off May 4, at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle. This year’s instructors include Seattle’s own David Montgomery, the rocking geomorphology prof at the University of Washington with three books under his belt, most recently, The Rocks Don’t Lie. Winner…

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0 Comments | Topics: Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, David Montgomery, writing

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