Field Journal: Pyhä-Luosto National Park – Part 2

Our second day at Pyhä-Luosto National Park in the Finnish Lapland began with me pointing out that we had not yet seen the bird on the park’s logo, a Siberian jay despite descriptions of the park saying they were very common and regularly investigated visitors. No sooner had we entered the park that morning, than the eldest kid in our group pointed out a bird, which was none other than a Siberian jay. They are curious birds, like other corvids, and this one came closer and closer, tree by tree, until it was literally sitting above us. A second joined in surveying of the human visitors and we had the luxury to admire the subtle red wing feathers as they blazed in flight backlit by the sun. They perched so close I could see a patch of beige feathers curling up and over the base of their…

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Field Journal: Pyhä-Luosto National Park – Part 1

O tell her, Swallow, thou that knowest each, 
That bright and fierce and fickle is the South, 
And dark and true and tender is the North. 
                                            – Alfred Tennyson

When I last visited Finland I stayed only in Helsinki. This time I was eager to travel north, as far north as possible and see the Lapland. After exploring the western coast of Norway, followed by the Scottish Highlands, I found I was developing a strong draw to the north. So we set out looking to see how far we could go on the train from Helsinki and decided we’d travel as far as Oulu, located on the northeast side of the Gulf of Bothnia and not terribly far from the Swedish border. I began searching for cabins to stay in, widening…

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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: First Dragonfly of the Year

It was one of the first truly warm days of the year so far and I wanted to find dragonflies. After dropping my daughter off at her forest preschool I walked down to the pond which I’d spent so much time at during my 365 Nature Project. Although it was fairly early in the day I had hopes of finding some odes. When I first arrived there wasn’t much flying over the pond so I had my lunch and waited for the sun to warm the air. I then surveyed the pond and discovered a few Pacific Forktail damselflies on the water’s edge. Then a large dragonfly zoomed by and it was easy to see it was a Common Green Darner, my first dragon of the year. It was the only one I saw but satisfying. 

As I watched for odes I noticed a trio of crows having a…

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365 Nature – Day 285

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Learn more about the project and see all the 365 Nature posts.


This morning started with a definite autumn chill in the air because the skies were clear overnight. With the prospect of a sunny morning, I opted for a visit to Magnuson Park. I didn’t expect to find any dragonflies with the morning temperature in the mid-40’s, but I was hoping some ducks and other birds would be easy to find in the quickly shedding trees.

It was cool when I arrived, not yet 50 degrees and I set off walking and immediately found a large cluster of mushrooms in the mulch. I walked into the sun and studied the unique architecture of the different seed heads – thistle, Queen Anne’s Lace, spirea all silhouettes in the sky. I spotted a few goldfinches and heard Red-winged Blackbirds, but the pond…

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