Field Journal: Slime Mold Diversity + Dragonflies

There is one constant about being a naturalist, it is always surprising. A couple of weeks ago I went to the beach for low tide and was surprised when I found no sign of the shaggy mouse nudibranch, or their eggs, which I commonly find this time of the year under rocks. On the other hand, I went looking for slime molds this weekend, not expecting to find many because of the long, dry spring, and yet I found them everywhere.

I have not had good luck taking photos of slime molds before because they are usually found in the forest, which are quite dark here. Compounding the challenge of photographing something small, in a dark landscape, my lens is long and filters out even more precious light. But I prefer to travel light and so I don’t carry a flash system, tripod…

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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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365 Nature – Day 333

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


After a little more than a week away, I was back in the arboretum for my walk. Things have changed little, the trees are a little more bare and the weather is a little cooler. But looking closer there are always signs of change. There are fewer freshly emerged mushrooms now and the fungi I did find were mostly in stages of decomposition. They all looked like they were melting slowly. I did find a few new mushrooms, one patch I spotted from the road as I dropped my daughter off at her forest preschool. I walked back to look at it and from a distance they looked like huge marshmallows. When I got closer, I changed my mind because the texture and cracks in the cap looked more…

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365 Nature – Day 321

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


This morning was cold, the first really cold day we’ve had this autumn after a record-breaking warm start to the season. The temperature was in the lower 40’s and was unexpected. I had adapted to the warmer days and had rather forgotten what the normal temperatures should be. I’m glad I had the foresight to put some gloves and a hat in the car earlier in the season.

My walk today was very misty, which for a glasses wearer is worse than rain. The mist always drifts in and covers my glasses, making it hard to see. It didn’t stop me from making an interesting discovery though, a branch full of a yellow slime mold. What I found interesting about this particular slime mold, was the visible tendrils between the patches…

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365 Nature – Day 252

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


This morning we took a walk in the drizzle to the beach and wetlands behind our house. The water of Lake Washington was calm and a liquid blue slowly waved like a lava lamp across the surface. In the wetlands, the leaves were dropping like we’ve seen at Seward Park recently with many brown Big Leaf Maple leaves covering areas under the canopy. Along the boardwalk, more leaves from the Alders and other trees colorfully dotted the path. Although we’re expecting a short heatwave early next week, the feel of autumn is well and truly here now. The mornings are darker and the evening is arriving sooner.

We had a period of sun late this morning and we went out in the backyard and I pulled up some weeds and filled…

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365 Nature – Day 235

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


Next to my daughter’s forest classroom this morning we found a slime mold. It was hard to miss, being a bright lemon color and at least a foot or more in diameter. We stopped to investigate it and found it resembled a pile of finely shredded cheese, but  was sticky, like dough with too much water. It was spreading on bark mulch which was fairly wet from irrigation.

After I dropped her off and started walking, something caught my eye under a tree, on the fallen leaves. It looked like a small patch of fog over the leaves, or perhaps a piece of sheer nylon on the ground. As I got closed I could see a hole in the middle, the nest of funnel-web spider. When I stooped down it…

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