Field Journal: Late Summer Dragons at Magnuson

A month ago I attended a dragonfly class at Magnuson Park with dragonfly expert, Dennis Paulson. He talked about the dragonfly’s life cycle during the class portion, then we went out to Magnuson Park in Seattle to look at the odes. The season had already begun to fade as many he had seen just a week ago were no longer flying. We did see many blue-eyed darners, cardinal meadowhawks, eight-spotted skimmers, blue dashers and western pondhawks. A single black saddlebag patrolled the pond. There were a few tule bluet and California spreadwing damselflies as well. I spotted one unfortunate blue-eyed darner which had become trapped in the water, only its head was above the surface as it tried to fly out, unsuccessfully. Paulson said that happens sometimes when the males fight, one will become stuck in the water and die. Some of the ponds had dried out, as they…

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Field Journal: Late Spring Insects at Magnuson Park

With the warm and sunny weather coming to a temporary end, I wanted to make the most of it to find some insects before the cool weather arrived. The day started sunny and although I arrived at the park in the morning, there was plenty moving around. The rose plants were full of small bumble bees and a few damselflies cruised around the edges of the ponds. I surveyed the grassy hillside where I often see dragonflies resting in the morning before they warm up enough to fly. While looking for dragonflies, I noticed a bright red insect sitting on a leaf. It was so colorful and large, it would have been difficult to miss. It was one of the few times I see something that really is unusual. When I got close enough to it, I could see it was a moth, but could very easily have been…

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Field Journal: Sunfish at Magnuson Park

I recently received a new GoPro which I’d been hoping for to acquire and use for nature purposes. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve made use of the waterproof feature by putting it underwater. Last week and again this week I visited Magnuson Park and found a fish in one of the ponds which I recorded with my GoPro. The fish was identified as likely a Northern Sunfish (Lepomis peltastes) with the possibility it’s a Pumpkinseed (L.gibbosus) by Dr. Solomon David, an aquatic biologist. The Northern Sunfish is not native to the Pacific Northwest, but found in the Great Lakes and the upper Mississippi River basin. I asked Dr. Solomon David how it may have ended up in Seattle and he speculated it could have been mixed in with fish bait or hatchery fish. 

Last year at this time I saw the…

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Field Journal: Spring at Magnuson Park

I’ve visited Magnuson Park twice in the last couple of weeks hoping with the warmer weather to find my first dragonflies of the year. The first visit was on the 17th and although it was supposed to get warm that day, the morning was cloudy and cool. The sun did show up right as I was leaving naturally, but too late for insects to be active. However, I found some other interesting things to watch in the absence of dragonflies. Near where I usually begin my walk I heard the usual Red-winged Blackbirds and saw some activity in the reeds. While the males frequently trill from the tops of trees, the females are often harder to find, hidden near the ground among the plants. So I wasn’t surprised when a brown bird fluttered into view, obscured by the cattails. I immediately realized it was not a female, but a…

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Field Journal: Magnuson Park CNC

On the final weekend day of the Seattle City Nature Challenge I headed for one of my favorite places in Seattle, Magnuson Park. The day promised to be warm and sunny and I hoped some insects would be out which I could document as Seattle’s biodiversity. When I arrived it wasn’t yet very warm, but there was plenty to see. I immediately found a bumble bee visiting some purple deadnettle when I entered the wetlands. As I walked around the first set of ponds I counted Red-winged Blackbirds, Violet-green Swallows, American Goldfinches, Bushtits and Green-winged Teal. I listened and heard a Marsh Wren singing, hidden among the cattails and as I searched for the bird I found a large fuzzy ball in the reeds. A Marsh Wren nest. 

I continued walking around the many ponds and as it warmed a little I started to see insects flying around. I…

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Field Journal: Say’s Phoebe at Magnuson Park

A day without rain, or so the weather forecast promised, so I decided to make a morning of it and head to Magnuson Park after dropping my daughter off at her forest preschool. On my way it started to rain. I’m rarely caught off-guard with the wrong jacket, but tired of month after month of wearing my raincoat, I had opted for a lighter jacket. Fortunately the rain had nearly stopped by the time I arrived at Magnuson Park and I was treated to blue skies punctuated with rolling black clouds. None of the clouds dropped more rain on me and despite the frequent darkening of the landscape, I was able to explore unimpeded. 

Instead of starting at the wetlands as I nearly always do, I began on the north end and headed to the dog park. Almost immediately I encountered a pair of immature Bald Eagles. One was perched…

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