A lot of important stuff isn't very photogenic. And the things that are interesting to me aren't interesting for the database.

A week and two days ago, I visited the William L Finley NWR, which is about a dozen miles south of where I live. It is a mixed wetland, consisting of open spaces and forests, and also drier hills. Like most of the NWR's in the Willamette Valley, it is very rich in species, with many migratory birds and resident birds, as well as mammals, including apex predators, inhabiting it or visiting it. And there is a lot that is interesting to me there. But the thing is, it gets a lot of visitors---so nothing I could observe there would really contribute to iNaturalist. As far as I can tell, there are thousands of observations there, and for that matter, it is professionally monitored by biologists, so any observations I get there are going to be for my personal interest but are going to be redundant for the database as a whole.

Except for a centipede I found under a log. That was the first centipede observation there!

But there are a lot of less photogenic places where I have seen some interesting stuff. And I am also the first person to make observations in many of them. Two days ago, I stopped at a bridge over the aptly-named Mud Creek, just a few miles to the north. Someone driving over it might not even know they were on a bridge. And Mud Creek, as the name suggests, is not a beautiful crystal-clear cascade. It is a very slow, windy creek with many side channels.

And I saw some interesting things there. I saw Bird's Nest Fungi growing on what look liked mowed or chopped stalks. I saw a raven flying overhead. I saw a Bull Thistle that is the largest I have ever seen, about six feet across. I saw two Wood Ducks taking off from the muddy, flat water. And I saw what looked to be a major gathering place for raccoons. (Or one very, very active raccoon---that is part of the mystery).

There are a lot of waterways around here that are little more than ditches. Sometimes they are ditches. But they provide corridors between different more-natural areas, for both good purposes (providing habitat for mammals and shrubby birds) and bad purposes (corridors for invasive plants and animals), and they are under observed. Mostly because they are difficult to get to and not exactly photogenic. But from my raccoon observation, I can start asking interesting questions: are those raccoons resident under that bridge, or are they just using it as a corridor between the Finley NWR and the natural areas where Muddy Creek joins the Muddy River? Where do they go when the river rises? Is the residential area around there dense enough that they are habituated to humans? Is a riparian area along a creek like Muddy Creek better habitat for raccoons than along the Marys River? Is the size of that Bull Thistle a sign of a very nutrient rich environment? Would raccoons living there be more carnivorous, or more herbivorous, than an average raccoon?

So these are the questions that come to me when I jump off my bicycle and start seeing what is around ditches and small creeks.

פורסם על-ידי mnharris mnharris, דצמבר 13, 2021 07:12 לפנה"צ

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mnharris

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דצמבר 10, 2021 02:01 PM HST

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I surprised them and they flew off in different directions. Probably mallards but maybe some type of Wood Duck?

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קוצן פשוט (Cirsium vulgare)

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mnharris

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דצמבר 10, 2021 02:08 PM HST

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This was really big. I tried to use my shoulder bag and leg to give a demonstration on just how big it was, but it is hard to get a good angle.

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mnharris

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דצמבר 10, 2021 02:10 PM HST

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עורב שחור (Corvus corax)

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mnharris

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דצמבר 10, 2021 02:12 PM HST

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Clear silhouette, but no other markings clear.

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mnharris

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דצמבר 10, 2021 02:18 PM HST

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There is a lot going on there, but I see raccoon. There might be nutria/muskrat/squirrel/etc. hiding in there also.

This was also taken in diffuse light, under a bridge, so its not the best picture.

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