Menu Close

Master Naturalist Coast Ecoregion Class

June 6-12 2016

One week of coastal education at the University of Oregon’s Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston, OR was more then I could have asked for. We had a thorough introduction to Coastal ecology which included the ocean to the coastal forests.

Some of us stayed on campus in the dorms.  The nightly lectures were given in the Boathouse nearby. Each night before the next days field trip we were treated to a lecture on the ecoregion we were going to see— It was very helpful to know that information ahead of time.

Day 1

Nora Terwillger, who is faculty at OIMB was our first speaker and guide for the tidepool trip the following day. She covered many of the creatures we would be seeing  and tidal pool ecology.

 Day 2

We drove out to Cape Argo, South Cove to inspect the tidal pools. It was a clear beautiful day.  We were there during a very lowtide so had all morning to clamber over the rocks. We found starfishes, sea urchins, corals, crabs, ribbon worm and chitons to name a few. We even saw the gumboot chiton, the biggest chiton of them all, as well as lots of different algae, one in particular I loved the name, Dead Man’s fingers…the cylindrical black branches looked very dead finger like. I was lucky enough to see a brittle star, which one of the assisting students at OIMB found at the base of a seaweed clump. While observing the ravines of mussels we were also treated to a pair of whales further out in the ocean also feeding in the area and coming up for air every now and again.

Tidepools and whale watching

Tidepools and whale watching

Very low tide

Very low tide

Anemone found exposed under the large rock

Anemone found exposed under the large rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gumboot chiton

Gumboot chiton

 

 

Batstar

Batstar

 

 

 

 

 

Brittle star

Brittle star

 

Deadman's fingers

Deadman’s fingers

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the afternoon we had a lecture about the Dunes for the next days location.

 

Lecture on the dunes

Lecture on the dunes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3

Bright and early we headed out the next day to Horsefall Beach and John Dellenback to walk on the dunes and through the surrounding vegetation.

 

Our guide Marty Giles was an excellent speaker. “We learned that Sand is not a thing but a size”, “60% of shoreline is Sand and 40% are magnificent Sand dunes”. I learned that larvae inhabit the spaces between the grains of sand, which might explain why on some beaches my feet can be quite itchy after walking on the sand. We compared the sand composition from the beach to the sand dunes, noting different colors and observed  the various granular compositions found in sand from different locations. I learned about tree decomposition chimneys, old original trees that were covered up by the dunes and now are slowly rotting to expose a cavity that the sand will fill eventually. Or they also may still be hollow but with a thin film of sand over them. If you stepped on a decomposed tree chimney that hadn’t yet filled with sand  you would sink in the hole.  We also learned about the tough plants that can live in this windy, salty environment. We then entered the costal forests along the edge of the dunes to see what species of plants were coping in that Ecoregion. The ever-advancing dunes have over the centuries covered up large areas of Oregon’s coastal forests, which you can see from Highway 101.

Hiking to the top of one of the large sand dunes.

Hiking to the top of one of the large sand dunes.

In the evening we had an extensive lecture on ocean currents, tides, rip tides and more. Was hard to get my head around some of the processes but something worth knowing if you are a surfer, swimmer or have spent time on the water fishing or boating.

As part of the beach ecology we had a interesting lecture by Jennifer Kirkland, BLM on Snowy Plovers. They are trying to protect and bring back the population of Snowy Plovers on the spit in Coos Bay. So far they seem to be successful in increasing the population through very ingenious methods.

Day 4

We had a quick Estuary orientation by Joy Tally before heading out to the tidal flats near OIMB on the South Slough where it meets Coos bay. Armed with buckets, scoop nets and shovels we proceeded to find an amazing array of critters in the mud flats. I found a Jellyfish, and the group found, ghost shrimp, crabs, oysters, and other small zooplanktons like the ctenophore. There was also  a worm like creature, Phronid that buries  itself  in the mud, and the sculp whose amphipod inside was inspiration for the alien in the movie Alien. They were among the more bizarre creatures. A Gaper oyster has two small pea crabs that live inside it. They have a commensal relationship with the Gaper oyster where one species benefits with little or no harm to the other.  It is amazing what you can find in the mud flats. Along the edge of the flats I found a ‘pickle weed’, a plant I had not seen before, along with a Castilleja sp.

Oyster

Oyster

Small crab living in the Gaper oyster

Small crab living in the Gaper oyster

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mudflats

Mudflats

 

 

 

South slough walk

South Slough walk

In the afternoon we had a field trip to the South Slough National Research Reserve. We had a brief lecture by Bree Yednock about the slough and the restoration work they are undertaking to restore the original stream channels, marshes and vegetation back to where it was before humans altered the ecology of the area.  The rest of the afternoon we did a short walk through the area to see the restoration and future plans for the slough marshes..

We also got to try our hand at conducting a  plant survey in the Marsh.

Our lecture for the evening was about interpreting by Trish Mace and Marty Giles

Day 5

We started off on a short boat trip in Coo’s bay collecting Plankton in the net we were dragging behind the boat. The afternoon was then spent looking at the plankton through microscopes under the watchful eye of Svetlana Maslakova…not only were there plankton but also the very weirdly shaped larvae of various creatures including crabs.

In the afternoon we had a lecture by Jan Hodder on the  bird and animal life on the offshore islands. Information for our next days field trip.

Day 6
We went to Coquille Point near Bandon and looked for all the birds and mammals we had just learned about the day before. Spotting telescopes provided by SEA volunteers let us see the birds nesting on the top of the off shore rocky islands. Black Oyster catchers, Common Murre, Brandt’s cormorant, and Pelagic Cormorant. Also the harbor seals were lounging on the rocks below the nesting birds.

seacoast panorama use

After lunch we had an excellent lecture by Nicole Norris, on the Human History of the area, their history before and after colonization. There were many things I did not know about the tribes on the west coast, their life style, language, traditions and treatment by the colonists. They seemed to have had a vastly different history and treatment by the colonists then the tribal peoples in the areas west of the Cascades. Before the disruption of foreigners, they enjoyed a unique environment.  At their doorstep were the ocean and forests, which provided a constant rich food source and shelter.

In the evening our lecture was given by Ron Metzger on the Geology of the coastal area.

Day 7 Last day…

We spent the morning at Cape Argo looking at the rock formations off the coast. We stopped at various points on our way back to OIMB with Ron pointing out geological formations off and on the coast. Looking out at the rock islands off shore you can see the tilt of the rocks from earlier earthquakes and tsunami events. And tree stumps on beaches from long buried forests the ocean sand is now swallowing up. Concretions were the rock formations I liked the best.

Talking about concretions

Talking about concretions

Exposed cliff showing tilted layers of rock and soil.

Exposed cliff showing tilted layers of rock and soil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over all we had a fantastic week, great group of people, great instructors. Even more than that we had fantastic weather, was sunny most of the time or at least not rainy and cold….

Borland Field Trip

Botanical Society of Otago field trip to Borland in southern Fiordland, New Zealand.

We spent 2 nights at Borland Lodge and two days of plant hunting.We could not have asked for a better choice of weekend, no rain, and more importantly… no sandflies. The first day was spent in the tussock fields and tarns below Mt. Burns.

Bunk room at the lodge

Bunk room at the lodge

Tussock fields below Mt. Burns

Tussock fields below Mt. Burns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had spectacular views of the surrounding valleys and mountains but also the Green Lake Landslide, the largest known landslide of this type in the world, 13,000 years ago. 27 cubic kilometers crashed into the Grebe valley below us.

Looking west toward slip down below, now covered with vegetation and tarns.

Looking west toward slip down below, now covered with vegetation and tarns.

Looking east is the tussock and tarn area we spent the day in looking for plants.

Looking west but up above and looking down on the tussock and tarn area where we spent the day looking for plants.

Read more

Road Trip Alaska

Alaska Travel Blog

Yellow Oxytrope

Yellow Oxytrope

 

25 days and 6,167 miles, from Oregon to Alaska and back again.

June 12, 2015 Bob and I loaded the truck tent on top of the bed of the truck, fit the gear like a puzzle into the bed of the truck, along with food for a month and headed to our first stop Vancouver, Canada to see our son.

Lines were short at the border crossing, but before crossing into Canada our eggs got confiscated because of the bird flu in Oregon. I forgot to tell the border agent that the eggs were actually from Texas.

Since our final destination was Alaska we drove through Canada as fast as we could…6 day’s fast! Canada is very large! We averaged about 6 to 7 hours of driving a day, which left little time to explore except at the occasional campground.

Read more

Practical Field Botany Class

January 20, 2015

Botany is a hard field to find instruction in let alone an 8 day intensive field botany Summer Workshop course. The University of Canterbury in Christchurch, NZ offers this class for their Biology graduates. Non-graduate students were allowed to also take the course so I was able to take advantage of this wonderful class.

Pieter, plant ID ,Temple basin

Pieter, plant ID, Temple basin

We spent the 8 days at the University’s Mountain Biological Field Station at Cass, which is in the Southern Alp area west of Christchurch. It was a big class, 22 of us, a good mix of University biology students as well as some of us older folk who were not students but wanted to learn more botany.

Our instructor Pieter Pelser did an excellent job of cramming a lot of information into 8 days and was always available to help with any questions. We actually covered everything that was in the course description, which was a lot. Read more

Rock and Pillar Conservation Area

 

At long last I finally got to experience the Rock and Pillar range in South Otago, NZ

It was one of the botanical places of interest I had wanted to visit for some time in New Zealand. I had joined the Botanical Society of Otago just in time to be a part of their field trip to this area and lucky for me they had gotten permission to use the 4-wheel drive road up to the top of the range. This saved me having to do the 3 and half hour walk to ascend the mountain to the alpine area, my main area of interest. It is not a road for the faint hearted but once at the top of the range it was worth the ride up the windy, narrow, steep…what they called a road.

Read more

Filoli Master Botanical Class

Last weekend, September 11-13, I attended Jean Emmons Master Botanical class at Filoli Garden outside of San Francisco. My husband and I did the 9 hour drive down from Oregon and stayed at Half Moon Bay thinking it would be a nice respite from the city and a place to relax after class….We couldn’t be more wrong. It seems to be the favorite destination for half of San Francisco as well. Why I am not sure, maybe close to the city, a nice long beach, a few decent restaurants and a fog horn that sounded every 10 seconds..… but what ever the attraction there was a constant conga lines of cars streaming in and out of the area everyday. For me it meant it took 50 minutes to go the 12 miles to Filoli and back again. Read more

Oregon Botanical Society weekend

jack lake blogRecently I invited the artists from the Oregon Botanical Society to spend a weekend field sketching in our lovely forests in Bend, Oregon. It was a way for me to finally meet some of the members who live further a field.   I enjoyed hosting this group of excellent artists and to have the privilege of showing them the beauty of the High Plateau and what Bend has to offer.

Our sketching hike to Jack Lake ended up being a plant finding hike. We could not walk more than 10 feet before the eagle eyes in the group spotted yet another plant to be identified.   This is the beauty of being with many pairs of eyes, short range, medium and long.   Needless to say we ran out of time to sketch.

We did manage one day of sketching in the field at another location, and a mini workshop. With a group of artists like this the exchange of ideas is always a positive result and we all come a way with new ideas and appreciation for the plants and the art we do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2017 Art Follows Science. All rights reserved.

Webdesigner: Cam.T

Based on Hoffman Theme by Anders Norén