Diary of an Urban Wild Garden: The Small Carpenter Bee

Some visitors come and go and you only catch snippets of their lives, while others hang around and you get to catch the full drama. This spring my small carpenter bees visitors have been the latter. Almost a month ago I watched tiny bees with shiny black bodies resting on broken stems of last year’s aster plants in my wildlife garden. They didn’t go in, they simply sat on the top. I took a few photos and moved on to watching other bees. Fast forward about three weeks and as I wandered around my wildlife garden watching insects, I noticed a small bee on the leaf of my new mock orange plant by the pond. I looked closer, and closer, until I saw it was on top of another bee. Despite my close proximity, the bees didn’t budge at all and I realized as I looked at…

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Field Journal: Spring Slime Molds at Seward Park

When it rains, it pours. It’s been pretty dry recently, which gave me little hope at finding any slime mold at Seward Park. But it had been a while since I’d walked through the inner forest at the park so I decided to see what I could find, and if nothing else, it’s still a soothing, beautiful walk through one of the last remnants of ancient forest in the city. I have usual logs I check when I walk and at my very first stop I found not one, but four different patches of slime mold on it.

One was nearly divided in half, the top part was a mass of shiny, black spheres while the bottom half of the mass had exploded into tan colored fluff. My best guess for this one was a Metatrichia species, but I can’t be sure. A…

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Poem of the Week: Lines Written In The Highlands After A Visit To Burns’s Country

There is a charm in footing slow across a silent plain,
Where patriot battle has been fought, where glory had the gain; 
There is a pleasure on the heath where Druids old have been,
Where mantles grey have rustled by and swept the nettles green;
There is a joy in every spot made known by times of old,
New to the feet, although each tale a hundred times be told;
There is a deeper joy than all, more solemn in the heart,
More parching to the tongue than all, of more divine a smart,
When weary steps forget themselves upon a pleasant turf,
Upon hot sand, or flinty road, or sea-shore iron scurf,
Toward the castle or the cot, where long ago was born
One who was great through mortal days, and died of fame unshorn.
Light heather-bells may tremble then, but they are far away;
Wood-lark may sing from sandy fern, — the Sun may hear this lay;
Runnels may…

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Diary of an Urban Wild Garden: Crane Fly Frenzy

When a crane fly is at rest, you can see how it resembles a crane, the long, elegant legs sit daintily on leaves holding the slender body aloft. But as soon as they take flight the illusion is shattered as their bumbling, clumsy flight is revealed. They don’t so much land on plants, but crash headlong into them.

Over the last few weeks, at the first sign of the awakening insects, I’ve regularly gone out into my wildlife garden with my camera to watch and document who visits. The usual mason bees showed up first followed by some large fuzzy digger bees. (More on the abundance of bees in another diary entry.) But I also began to see crane flies. They’re not new to the garden of course, I’ve seen them in the past, but recently I have seen a lot of them….

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Field Journal: Alderflies Galore

Yesterday turned out to be sunny and warm and I visited Magnuson Park for the first time this year. I quickly took off my jacket because it was so unexpectedly warm and my thoughts immediately drifted to garter snakes basking in the sun. I see them at the park every year and weather like this was sure to bring them out. Almost as soon as I had that though I encountered my first snakes. Sometimes they are silently basking in the sun and I only see them once I get too close and they quickly slide away. But this time I heard them before I saw them. There were at least two garter snakes moving in the reeds, as though chasing one another and then twining together. I suspect they were in the act of mating….

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Poem of the Week: Sing me a song of a lad that is gone

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.
Mull was astern, Rum on the port,
Eigg on the starboard bow;
Glory of youth glowed in his soul:
Where is that glory now?

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.
Give me again all that was there,
Give me the sun that shone!
Give me the eyes, give me the soul,
Give me the lad that’s gone!

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.
Billow and breeze, islands and seas,

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Field Journal: Low Tide Nudibranchs

It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I visit Alki Beach at low tide, I always discover something new. This weekend the spring low tides were just on the minus side, the weather was dry and I headed to the beach to explore. I hadn’t been since the low night tides during the winter and I was happy to get back out there again. There were few people on the beach and I had plenty of room to search by myself.

Lacuna sp. snail eggs

The first thing I noticed were tiny yellow donuts scattered around on the kelp. They felt soft to my fingers and I took photos of them to look at later. Once on the computer I could enlarge them enough to see they were rings of eggs and some where…

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Poem of the Week: On a Fly drinking out of his Cup

BUSY, curious, thirsty fly!
Drink with me and drink as I:
Freely welcome to my cup,
Couldst thou sip and sip it up:
Make the most of life you may,
Life is short and wears away.

Both alike are mine and thine
Hastening quick to their decline:
Thine’s a summer, mine’s no more,
Though repeated to threescore.
Threescore summers, when they’re gone,
Will appear as short as one!

by William Oldys

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