Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Salmon Watcher Annual Report for 2008 Is Out!

The 2008 report summarizing the observations made last fall by Salmon Watchers in the Lake Washington Watershed, Puget Sound WRIA 8 Streams, and Vashon Island is out.  You can see the report in Adobe Reader format by clicking on the link below - 

Little Swamp Creek is included in the information for the Sammamish River Tributaries, starting on page 29 of the report.  Unfortunately, the count was a big zero for my site (the stretch in our yard).  I also did not see any fish at my site on Swamp Creek where it goes under Bothell Way/Hwy 522.  Luckily Eric spotted quite a few Sockeye and Kokanee at his site on Little Bear Creek in Woodinville near McLendon Hardware.  

We saw a lonely male Coho pass through the stretch of the creek in our yard in November of 2006, and a pair of coho seemed to build a redd and spawn here back in 2001 (I became a salmon watcher in 2002 to make sure it was recorded officially somewhere that salmon were still coming up Little Swamp Creek).  Our neighbors who have lived on our street since the 40's and 50's describe a time when there were lots and lots of salmon in the creek.

Deer in OUR yard this morning!

Here's what we were surprised by this morning in our back yard --

This little one eventually hopped back over the fence to be with its buddy.  I'm sure this it the same pair that I saw on Monday.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Surprise Wildlife

Deer across 192nd St. from our neighbors' driveway

I was loading up the car to get ready to leave yesterday morning when I happened to look over and see a deer looking at me from our neighbors' yard!  Our neighbors had mentioned seeing deer in their yard a little while back, but I didn't think we'd see them again.  Ta da!  I'm sorry that they are so small in my photo - I was scrambling to get a shot of them before they were gone.  Thank goodness for the wetlands, streams and their buffers in our area to provide a little bit of cover for them, I guess.  I saw them again in the evening grazing on the front lawn of a house on 80th between 192nd and 195th.  I've personally only seen a deer once before in our neighborhood.  I was waiting for the school bus to drop off my son after school, when suddenly I was completely shocked to see a deer bound through our yard and across the street.  That was several years ago.

We are seeing more mallard action in our yard this year than we have before.  There have been two different pairs hanging out in the stream.  Both pairs act like they are fairly used to people, whereas in the past any mallards that were in our yard seemed very "wild".  I don't know how they can possibly have a nest around here that the raccoons won't get.  

And then there's the peacock that we hear calling from across the field behind us every evening...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Just a little more follow-up on the planting project....

Before going any further I have to point out that one of the Red-flowering currant bushes that was planted during the big planting event on April 10th is blooming!  I think that's pretty cool.  And while I was taking pictures of it, a pair of Red-headed Sapsuckers landed in the tree above me, making a bit of a racket.  I managed to get a picture of one of them before they were gone again - 

Just another reason why I feel lucky to live here, and why I want to protect this stream and wetland area.

The main impetus for this post is to share some impressive statistics about the planting event on the 10th.  Thanks to Loren at Adopt-A-Stream for sending these out!

  • 150 native trees and shrubs planted
  • 4000 square feet of lawn around those plants covered with a weed barrier of coffee bags (made of coconut fiber) and cardboard 
  • 45 cubic yards of mulch spread on top of the weed barrier
  • 96 hours of volunteer service

Thanks again to everyone involved!  

I have finally tagged all of the plants with a yellow surveyor-type tape provided by AAS (I was surprised to pick up the roll and discover that it's not plastic - the material reminds me of interfacing you might use when sewing).  The yellow "tags" make all of the little bare, twiggy plants show up better.  It's still hard to see them in the little pictures I'm posting below, but hopefully if you click on the picture it will pop you to a large version of the photo. 

Here's the area near the front fence -

And the back half of the project, looking southwest/downstream - 

And finally, a nice picture of a Paper Birch all leafed out - 

The Paper Birch and Black Twinberry are two native plants included in the new planting that I am not familiar with, so I'll be happy to get to know them...

Yesterday Eric and I happened upon an area at the northernmost end of Golden Gardens Park in Seattle where there is a pond that outlets onto the beach.  It occured to us as we were walking on the path from the pond to the parking lot that we were walking next to an area that was planted with the same native plants that were just planted in our yard.  I'm sorry that we didn't think to take a picture of it, because we were thinking that it is the perfect example of what our yard will look like along the stream in 10 years or so.  It was amazing.  We'll have to go back and take a photo or two to share.

The Plant List

The following is a list of the native plants that were planted along Little Swamp Creek where it passes through our yard.  This was the first half of a project on our property that the Adopt-A-Stream Foundation is coordinating to re-establishing a riparian zone along this stretch of the creek.  It is just a small part of their work toward the ultimate goal of increasing the quality of Swamp Creek.

  • Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera)
  • Shore Pine (Pinus contorta var. contorta
  • Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
  • Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)
  • Vine Maple (Acer circinatum)
  • Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum)
  • Pacific Willow (Salix lasiandra)
  • Red-osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea)
  • Black Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata)
  • Indian Plum (Oemlaria cerasiformis)
  • Red-flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum)
  • Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis)
  • Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
  • Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana)
  • Sword fern (Polystichum munitum)
  • Lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina)

I think that covers it, but if someone reading this happens to know that I left something out or made an error, please let me know.  It looks like the plan for the second half of the project (to be completed later in the summer/fall) calls for a slightly different mix of plants for the other side of the stream.  Thank you to Sarah at Adopt-A-Stream and Tom Murphy at The LEAF School, whose lists of plants for this project I pilfered from.  And thanks to King County's online Native Plant Guide, which is an awesome resource -

Friday, April 10, 2009

An Amazing Planting Day, thanks to The LEAF School & Adopt-A-Stream!!

Today was the big day - Adopt-A-Stream and The LEAF School from Edmonds Community College came for the afternoon to plant and mulch the east side of the stretch of Little Swamp Creek that flows through our yard.  We are so thoroughly impressed with the wonderful students who spent their afternoon  here.  I did not think that the whole job would be done by the time they had to leave, but it sure was!  Thanks so much, guys!  

Here are some of our pictures, from the beginning of the process to end - 

The Adopt-A-Stream elves (thanks Loren, Sarah, Jennifer, CK, & John!) had placed all of the 100+ plants where they needed to be, so we started the afternoon with a lesson on how to properly plant the plants and then got down to it!  The plan was to plant the plants by digging their holes in the existing lawn/sod and covering all of the sod around the plants with a layer of coffee bags as a weed block and a putting a mulch of coarse wood chips on top of that.

This is looking toward the back of our lot, with the planting just about finished.  (The circles of sod removed for the planting holes were used to make a ring around the plants...)  Eric and I had marked the border of the planting/mulch area with wood stakes.

Just the other day Eric happened upon a man at the garbage/transfer station who was trying to get rid of literally a ton of unused, flat cardboard boxes that were in a storage unit that this man had recently purchased.  The transfer station wouldn't take all of this cardboard, but Eric took a BUNCH.  Luckily we ended up using almost all of them as a weed block under the mulch, because it ended up being a LOT of boxes to use up any other way.  The flat boxes looked like large puzzle pieces being laid out on the ground.

The cardboard box weed barrier.

The coffee bags (made out of coconut fiber) were laid out on top of the boxes.  I am glad that we had the box layer, because it makes me even more confident that the sod will get smothered!  This is again looking toward the back of our lot.

This is looking towards the street/front of our lot.  The coffee bag layer was going on top of the cardboard boxes.

Another view of the weed barrier in progress.  The trick, of course, was to make sure that the weed barrier (and mulch) didn't end up too close to the individual plants.

Here it is, the front half of the planting area,  DONE -

And the back half - 

And here is our amazing LEAF School planting crew along with the Adopt -A-Stream folks! 

Their instructor, Thomas Murphy, is in the middle, back row.  What a great group of people!  Thanks again to all of you!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tomorrow is Planting Day!

The idea of a blog to record the trials, tribulations and wonders of living with a suburban stream has been on my mind for quite a while, and now is the perfect time to FINALLY get the blog started.  Tomorrow students from The Leaf School at Edmonds Community College (see link on sidebar) are coming in the afternoon to plant native wetland plants and lay mulch along the eastern side of the portion of Little Swamp Creek that runs through our yard.  The amazing Adopt-a-Stream Foundation are who we must thank for the plants, the mulch, and the coordination of the much appreciated LABOR!!  

That is a great picture of all of the plants that are going to be planted tomorrow along the east side of the stream.

Here's a view looking north before the Adopt a Stream folks staged the plants where they need to go...

And after the plants were arranged....

(We marked out the edge of the planting/mulch area with stakes ahead of time.) 

Here's a view of the back half of the yard, looking north, with just the stakes marking the edge of the planting area - 

And the plants laid out in that same back area...

One of my goals for this blog is to record the evolution of this restored riparian zone along the creek.  So here's the starting point!  Later this year the plan is to re-grade (I don't think that's the proper term - more on that later) and plant the western side of the stream, which may be even more exciting to record and share.

One last picture.  

One of two loads of mulch being delivered today.  45 cubic yards all together.  Whew!