Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Flower fly on thimbleberry, Discovery Park

Genus Sericomyia, I think.

Yellow-spotted millipede, Discovery Park

The bright colors on this glossy critter signal that it is poisonous. Poke one, and you're likely to get a whiff of almonds: the scent of cyanide. It's what allows the millipede to go about its business on the forest floor, without the tedious business of ducking under pieces of leaf litter. But poison gas hasn't stopped this one from picking up a passenger.

Salmonberries ripe, Discovery Park

... and I'm not the only mammal snacking on them.

Field trip afterglow with rufous hummingbird, Discovery Park

I'm still absorbing an amazing field trip I took on Saturday morning, led by Seattle Park ranger Penny Rose. The trip was part of a class on birding by ear, and she was a wonderful teacher. Rose is the kind of naturalist who can walk into a place and within seconds, can see and hear four times as many things as I could pick up in half an hour. I want to be just like her.
Among the sightings/hearings: 54 species, including four kinds of warbler and three kinds of flycatcher, three nests and the first Swainson's thrush song of the season. She also showed us through a trail I'd never tried before, but which will be one of my primary destinations in future. She calls it "bird alley."
Here's one of the characters you can find there.

We don't see many rufous hummingbirds in Seattle. It's possible that the city-loving Anna's Hummingbirds, who live here year round, make it hard for the migratory rufous hummingbirds to find niches. But this fellow is sitting pretty, guarding a territory that includes the big fireweed patch in the south meadow.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spring cleaning, Montlake Fill

Big bleached snag, tree swallow singing away from a high branch, and in one of the holes, a tail.

There you are.

And drop the sawdust away from the hole.

A pair of chickadees were taking turns at this, flying in, taking out stuff, dropping it, preening, and flying in again.