Surprising Slime Mold and New Beetles

To say this has been a weird summer would be an understatement. Because of the pandemic, there was no annual trip abroad to explore new landscapes and nature, and I haven’t done a good job getting out locally either. Part of the reason for that is with nothing else do do, and being cooped up so much, people have been packing into parks and nature spaces since the spring and trails and parking have been overly crowded as a result. Going into nature with crowds is worse than not going at all to me, so I’ve spent a lot of time at home.

That’s not to say I’m not going out at all though! I try to select the quieter weekday times when places are less busy, and so it was I found myself at one of my usual haunts in Sammamish to…

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Field Journal: Sea Squirts & More

Low tides have come and gone while I sat at home looking at the tide charts, wondering what I was missing during the pandemic. But with the easing of restrictions here in Washington, I finally ventured out to my regular haunt in West Seattle for the first two times this season. My first outing was not very exciting, I found only a single nudibranch and not a whole lot else. This week however, I had more success in not only finding a few nudibranchs, but also making some discoveries new to me.

Summer has officially begun in Seattle, and this week offered sunny weather and remarkably calm water for searching the tidal zone. It wasn’t long before I found the first nudibranchs, but at first I didn’t see them because the rock I had…

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Field Journal: Valkmusa National Park

The promise of extensive bogs and rare moths and butterflies drew me to my final destination on my tour of Finland’s National Parks. It had begun with a visit north to Syöte National Park where I spent a few days exploring with a small group. After returning to Helsinki, I set out on a four day solo trip first visiting Puurijarvi-Isosuo National Park and Kurjenrahka National Park to the east and then driving back towards Helsinki to Nuuksio National Park and the Haltia Nature Center. My final day found me east of Helsinki, near the Russian border, along the Gulf of Finland in Kotka to visit Valkmusa National Park.

Only a small section of Valkmusa National Park is accessible by trail and there are only two trail…

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Field Journal: Nuuksio National Park

The third day of my solo tour of Finland’s National Parks brought me back close to Helsinki when I visited Nuuksio National Park. The afternoon before, I drove to Haltia – the Finnish Nature Center, located in Nuuksio National Park, to visit the exhibits and browse in the shop for badges of the parks I’d already visited. The center is small, but presents a complete experience of the nature of Finland with multimedia displays. A long diorama of Finnish nature greets visitors before opening into a large room with a wide screen that plays videos of Finland’s many habitats throughout the seasons. It feels like you’re snowshoeing through a winter forest one moment before being transported to a rocky summer shore the next. An…

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Field Journal: Kurjenrahka National Park

At the end of the first day of my solo tour of Finland’s National Parks, I drove from Puurijarvi-Isosuo National Park, a little south to Kurjenrahka National Park. Although the days are long in Finland during the summer, I only had limited time to explore one of the many trails of Kurjenrahka, and I chose the short 2 km Karpalopolku circle trail that began near the Kurjenpesä nature hut.

The trail meandered through pine forest, skirting the edge of the mire, the bright green of it shining through the trunks of the trees in the late afternoon sun. The path led through an open grassy meadow with birch trees, towered over by pines, creating an enclosed space, before moving back into the forest. At the end of the trail, I…

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Field Journal: Seals and Slugs

When a couple of Twitter friends met in Bali recently to search for invertebrates together, I was naturally overcome with jealousy missing out on their fun adventures finding nudibranchs and all kinds of fascinating insects. We decided that since all of us invertebrate geeks couldn’t get together in person to search for spineless creatures, we’d do it remotely. So Maureen Berg, Franz Anthony and I created #InverteFest, a time when we could all go on an invertebrate hunt wherever we were in the world and share what we found on Twitter. We invited everyone to join in on the weekend of September 28th and were overwhelmed by the response.

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