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: Tecolote Canyon

To begin our second day in San Diego, I chose to visit a place I’d heard about but had not yet seen, Tecolote Canyon. The park is named tecolote which also means owl and indeed, Great-horned Owls and Barn Owls can be found there with some even nesting. The morning started as overcast, but plenty warm enough for us Seattleites. We immediately encountered a few California Towhees at the entrance area, rather dull brown birds at first glance, with with a subtle orange/red color upon closer inspection. I also found a few California Thrashers, jay-sized birds, also a dull brown, but with impressively long, curved beaks. I noticed a woodpecker on a phone pole and took a photo. Later I realized it was a Nuttall’s Woodpecker, a new bird for me. I then encountered some birds decidedly more colorful, a Black-headed Grosbeak and a Hooded Oriole…

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Field Journal: Arboretum Bee Flies

Spring has brought more rain to Seattle but at times it’s also brought sun. Friday was one of those sunny spring days that brings everyone outside from whatever they are doing. I packed my camera and stayed at the arboretum after I dropped my daughter off at her outdoor forest preschool because I’d been seeing bee flies around and wanted to photograph them. I hopped from sun patch to sun patch through the forest and it wasn’t long until I found my first bee fly. It was hovering in a sunbeam along with other insects and I stopped to watch. It soon settled down on some woody mulch and I sat down to look at it. When hovering, bee flies have the tendency to stick their legs out, which gives the appearance of a skydiver. Other flies and bees usually tuck their legs in when they fly, which makes…

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365 Nature – Day 297

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


This morning I cleaned out the bird feeders from the soggy bird seed which had become drenched from our recent rains. I replaced the seeds and hung them back up before sitting in front of the window with my camera, waiting for the bird to come. I waited patiently and a few Dark-eyed Juncos arrived, foraging in the orange and red leaves. But they stayed in the shade, rarely venturing into the sunlight. The Black-capped Chickadees were also visiting, but they vastly prefer the sunflower seeds in the shells and I’ve changed the rest of the feeders to a less messy seed mix. The feeder with the sunflower seeds is further away. Eventually I gave up for the time and went to look out in the backyard. There…

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365 Nature – Day 287

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


In recent weeks I’ve noticed tiny flying blue, fuzzy insects around Seattle. Last year at this same time I noticed them as well in the arboretum where they were flying in dense quantities and stuck all over spider’s webs. They are very easy to catch as they simply float through the air like airborne seeds. Last year I admired them and then thought no more about them until I saw them again this year. I was curious and put them on twitter where they were identified as aphids, of all things. These dainty, pretty little flies were the flying version of woolly aphids. Most of the time these aphids stay on their chosen plant, elm, maple, apple or other tree, but late in the season they produce winged…

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365 Nature – Day 262

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


Today I got to indulge in a bit of bugdork fandom when we went to the Burke Museum for their Bug Blast day and I got to meet The Bug Chicks. I’ve long been a fan of The Bug Chicks and supported their Sofa Safari film project and my bugdork sticker has been on my car and their poster in my daughter’s room every since. We were lucky to see them four years ago when they were last at Bug Blast here in Seattle and the experience has stuck with me. They are masters of science education and the audience was fully engaged from the start. Today Jessica was missing and Kristie carried the show solo, but what a show. The kids and adults were eager and excited to…

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