Saturday, May 23, 2009

It probably comes as no news that the weather this weekend is stunning. So beautiful that this trail report is ...late.
Biking note: There was a 12" diameter log down over the railroad-grade trail, in the center of the park. It may or may not be removed, at this time.

The mosquitoes are out in force so repellent is advisable.
In addition to mosquitoes, the wildlife reported is as follows:

BIRDS
American Robin
Mourning Dove
Band-tailed pigeon
Common Raven
American Crow
Red-winged Blackbird
European Starling
Steller's Jay
American Goldfinch
Spotted Towhee
Pacific-sloped Flycatcher
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Northern Flicker
Hairy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Pine Siskin
Western Wood Pewee
Rufous Hummingbird
Golden-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)(Myrtle variety)
Wilson's Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Winter Wren
Marsh Wren
Bewick's Wren
Black-capped Chickadee
Dark-eyed Junco
Brown Creeper
Varied Thrush
Hermit Thrush
Swainson's Thrush
Barn Swallow
Violet Green Swallow
Norther Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Common Yellowthroat
Hutton's Vireo
Canada Goose
Great Blue Heron
Belted Kingfisher
Wood Duck
Mallard
American Coot
Hooded Merganser
Pied-Billed Grebe
Black-headed Grosbeak
Barred Owl
Red-tailed Hawk
Bald Eagle
Osprey

MAMMALS
Douglas Squirrel
Raccoon
Black-tailed Deer
Coyote

REPTILE/AMPHIBIANS
Pacific Chorus Frog
Red-legged Frog
Common Garter Snake

OTHER
Banana Slug
Black Slug
Mosquito
Western Tent Caterpiller
Carpenter Ant

There are so many wild flowers in bloom (I'll get back with a list). They just sparkle in shafts of sunlight. It just doesn't get any better than this!
Get out and enjoy your Hansville Greenway!

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's weekend again and what a weekend it promises to be!  The Trails are in wonderful shape and the sun will shine through in bright shafts through the trees of the forest, bringing 50 kinds of green to life.  
The ferns are all unfurling the flowers blooming and the swallows swoop in low fast circles, over the grasses of the meadows, hunting for insects.
It seems that spring is sprung and bekoning us to enjoy the Hansville Greenway.

Friday, May 8, 2009

A quick update...
The weekend is predicted to be gorgeous!
If You're planning a visit the Hansville Greenway, via Buck Lake Park, tomorrow, the Annual Flotsom & Jetsom Garden Club Plant Sale will be in full swing.  Attendants will be on site to direct parking.  Plan on seeing most of the Hansville community out and about.  
While You're out enjoying the day, why not do a little shopping for Your garden and come say hello at the Greenway booth.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Froggie went A-courtin'

Spring has sprung here in the Western Washington.  The wild flowers are blooming, the bird populations are swelling.  With all this excitement, it's easy to overlook another herald of spring...Frogs.

We have 

The Pacific Chorus Frog, which sounds like this
The Red-legged Frog, which sounds like this
The Bullfrog, an invasive non native,which sounds like this
The Western Toad, which sounds like this and this

Is it a a frog or a toad?

Technically frogs and toads are the same.  The name "Toad" indicates species, which are able to tolerate drier environments.  Adult toads do hunt near water but also spend significant time in drier areas, such as woodland.
You can tell a frog from a toad even before the tadpoles emerge.  Toads, like frogs, lay eggs in water, but instead of laying eggs in clusters, toads lay eggs in long chains.
Toads have shorter legs for walking, instead of jumping and swimming like frogs.
Their skin is usually described as being dry and warty although these bumps are not actually warts, but  glands which produce protective chemicals.  
In the case of the Western Toad, the glands produce a bitter, white fluid, which causes the eyes and mouth of a would-be predator to tingle and go numb.  
While toads will not give you warts, it is important to throroughly wash your hands before touching your eyes, after handling a toad.

Another difference Between Frogs and toads...Frogs have teeth!

Frogs in the environment

The health of any natural system is reflected in balance.  Frogs are critical to that balance.  
They are a necessary link in the food chain.  They prey on insects and other tiny animals which, when the balance is askew, become pests.  Frogs in turn become food for larger animals.

Frogs are an indicator species.  Health issues in the frog population are early flags for environmental problems.
Frogs are amphibians and like all amphibians they are dependent on both land and water.  They have thin skins, through which they absorb water and whatever is in that water, making them vulnerable to bacteria, fungus and pollutants.
They eat insects and therefore ingest and matabolize everything the insects have eaten or are carrying.
There has been a startling increase of frog mutations, parasitic infections and declines in population all over the world...including the Puget sound region.  Of course human pressures take their toll on frog habitat, but scientists are especially concerned that frogs are approaching extinction in remote areas which were considered to be pristine.

Concern for amphibians is more than an academic or aesthetic excercise.  Frogs are a source of food for humans as well as a medicine chest, which we have only begun to explore.  But to continue to benefit from our relationship with frogs, we must also take care to ensure they not only survive, but thrive. 
We are but a  part of this eco-system and that which effects even the humblest of creatures impacts our survival also.

Additional references, resources and cool links

Pacific Chorus Frog (Pacific Treefrog), Pseudacris (Hyla) regilla

Red Legged Frog, Rana aurora

Bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana

Western Toad, Bufo boreas

This is a thematic page for teaching children, but it has a lot of great links that adults will enjoy as well.
Do visit the morphology site.  It's a web-based digital library of three-dimensional (3D) interactive and customizable reconstructions of animal anatomy and one heck of a fun toy!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Since it's been a warm, dry week, most of the trails have died out and firmed up.  Even with weekend rain predicted, we'll  likely have ample dry periods and sun breaks.

There will be a guided nature walk Sunday morning, lead by Mr Ralph Rogers, the Greenway's former Science and Education Specialist. 
Those interested should plan to meet at the parking lot at Buck Lake Park at 8am.  Wear comfortable walking shoes and plan on being out a couple of hours or more.