A highly skilled naturalist / teacher for your group or yourself

Let Stewart share his quite possibly unsurpassed knowledge of the whole western Washington lowland community of plants, animals and fungi, and infect you and your group with his incredible passion for nature. Continue reading

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Artificial Insemination of our Phantom Orchids Attempted

Phantom Orchid Gowlland-Tod2.jpgThe following is part of a continued saga of a planned and attempted artificial insemination of the Cephananthera austiniae – Phantom Orchids in and around Lincoln Park, West Seattle, here goes the detailed continuation:

For those who might want their own Phantom Orchid, be aware that the orchid is attached to a fungus that gives it all of it’s energy.  The fungus is in turn probably attached to the roots of one or more adjacent trees or shrubs that the fungus has a Continue reading

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A Dramatic Start to Spring in Lincoln Park!

With the first striking group of Trilliums up by March 9th, some birds now nesting, and early migrants now arriving, and butterflies and other bugs are now winging. Spring is now in full swing! You can learn their special spots, the tricks to recognizing them and learn their fascinating stories in my upcoming Saturday, March 29th Lincoln Park Spring: Blooms, Nests, Migrants, Butterflies 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. Continue reading

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My First Butterfly for 2014 – Milbert’s Tortoiseshell

On Friday, February 28th I saw my first butterfly of 2014 , in Lincoln Park, in the early afternoon of an incredibly beautiful, sunny, short sleeve day. The Milbert’s Tortoiseshell is one of the butterflies in the Nymphalini Tribe of the Nymphalid Family (Nymphalidae) butterflies.  This tribe of butterflies spends the winter in the adult stage, rather than as either egg, caterpillar (larva), or pupa.  In part because they are Continue reading

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The Ravens are back at Lincoln Park in West Seattle for maybe the fifth year!

While they have always been common in the mountains, and beyond the urban and suburbanized areas, prior to maybe 2004, when one or two Ravens started showing up in Seward Park, in my decades of observation, I never knew of any Ravens showing up within the urban and suburban Seattle area. I imagine that some combination of the Ravens having suitable habitat destroyed by expanding suburbanization and maybe an expanding montane population of Ravens with nowhere else to go, has had Ravens finding small islands of relatively suitable habitat, such as 2 of our wildest parks, Lincoln Park and Seward Park and using them. Continue reading

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See the Salamanders in the UW Daily photo gallery of the walk I led for their biology class!

Link to the photo gallery done for the UW daily on the “Salamander Love Night” program I gave for Adam Leache’s Biology 180 class:
http://dailyuw.com/photos/galleries/2012/feb/16/breaking-down-biology/
and Professor Adam Leache’s write-up in his Leache Lab evolutionary Herpetology web-site:

http://faculty.washington.edu/leache/wordpress/2012/02/breaking-down-biology-at-the-daily/

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Seattle Times article – I worked with reporter on about our Salamanders

Check out this great article that I have been working on with Lynda Mapes, the Seattle Times nature beat reporter.  It is on the 4 salamander species at Camp Long, West Seattle, 2 of which that breed in the pond on or about Valentines Night that I have been and will be showing, and teaching the public about in my upcoming walks (linked again in the article) : http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/fieldnotes/2017496925_just_in_time_for_valentines_salamander_love_nights.html

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Six Seattle Salamanders

While almost everyone is familiar with lizards, many are not familiar with the amphibians that are roughly the same shape as a lizard, with skin like a frog. These are the salamanders.  

Why are they not more familiar to us? Salamanders are not generally active above ground during daytime where people can easily see them.  They can be seen during the day if you know where to look, but not very many people know where to look. I know where to look, and on two upcoming outings at Camp Long in Seattle, I’d be happy to share these creatures with you. Our next salamander nature walk is February 18 (for families).

by brian gratwicke via Flickr Creative Commons

Ensatina by brian gratwicke via Flickr Creative Commons

Like amphibians around the world, salamander populations have been in decline in Seattle.  These incredible creatures are extra sensitive to pollutants, diseases and habitat degradation and fragmentation.  While there are relatively few salamanders left in Seattle and the ones left reside in just a few remaining spots, six species may still make Seattle their home.  They are the Ensatina, the Western Red-backed Salamander, the Northwestern Salamander, the Long-toed Salamander, the Rough-skinned Newt and possibly the Pacific Giant SalamanderContinue reading

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Lincoln Owl Prowl report and link to W.S. Herald “Slide Show”

A good sized group had a great time on the “Owl Prowl” I led last night!  Thanks to a couple of staff of the West Seattle Herald who joined us, I can post a slide show of the walk: http://www.westseattleherald.com/2012/02/04/features/slideshow-owl-prowl-more-walk-park  I expect the kids will be talking about the bear skull I pulled out of my bag, claiming that I found it in one of the owl pellets along with the rat skulls!  Some adults might be talking about it too!

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The Barred Owl – A Successful, New Immigrant Species Upsets the Ecological Apple Cart

Before 1946 no Barred Owls had ever been recorded west of the Rocky Mountains and then the first Barred Owl was recorded in British Columbia.  By 1973 the first Barred Owls - Strix varia – had been recorded in Washington State.  Up until the mid 1990’s they still had a spotty distribution and were not very common here, but their numbers were growing rapidly, and now they have become abundant and widespread in at least western Washington.  As a new species for our area they ate animals that did not have these predators eating them before.  They then competed for prey with animals that didn’t have Barred Owls to compete with before.  They may also be competing for nesting sites with animals that would use similar nesting sites.

The species that might have the most difficulties due to all of these problems is our Spotted Owl – Strix occidentalisContinue reading

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