Saturday, September 3, 2016

Kah Tai in September, 2016

Kah Tai has its share of challenges, most arising from human misbehavior. Of course, Kah Tai exists because of human misbehavior - the blocking of a tidally flushed estuary with 231,000 cubic yards of sandy dredge spoil wasn't an accident. And yet those spoils have managed, with time and succession and a little help, to develop a healthy ecosystem that has hosted 152 species of birds at last count.

Occasionally humans can be found camping in the woodland, especially problematic during the dry summer months. But here at the beginning of September, the park received the gift of an early autumn rain, and the occasional smoker in the trees is less likely to burn the whole place down. The birds can flee now as the fledglings are all flight-worthy in September, but in the early summer, the young are always most at risk.

Trees can't flee. They endure or die and when we are fortunate, they thrive. Madrone, maple, willow, poplar, bitter cherry, all maturing in the park. The native madrone is mostly faring well at Kah Tai. The samsaras of vine maple declare another successful year. Willows of indeterminate species cluster along the banks and the stately but non-native poplars line the park's southern boundary and still populate the lagoon edge. Who knew that willows intermingled so readily that even the botanical experts have a time of it trying to sort out their species?

No problem figuring out native bitter cherry, though. The bark is distinctive and the bitter fruit is popular with the feathered crowd.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Kah Tai, poised for spring

Photos are from late February 2016, courtesy Artemis Celt. March has brought red-flowering currant, Indian plum, tall Oregon grape in bloom. The park benefited in February from another Urban Forestry Restoration Project work crew, six young and enthusiastic Washington Conservation Corps workers who spent the better part of two weeks removing spurge laurel, English holly and English ivy plants from the woodland. Every hour contributed helps get the invasives under control. 
There are never enough volunteers, and volunteers get less respect than they should for their heroic efforts here. Volunteers spend more time picking up trash than pulling invasives. When homeless encampments are abandoned, all the detritus remains, and little is done about that detritus except what is done by volunteers. 
Still, the park is resilient and nature moves gracefully foward into another season. The Ruddy Duck males are sporting their brightest of blue bills. Male Wigeons display iridescent green face patches. A Merlin flies along the trail. Common Redpolls, not at all common here and a first sighting in the park, are spotted in the alders along the trail, busily raiding the seed cones. If only the humans would be as appreciative and respectful of the park as the birds are.