Date: 10/21/18 11:18 am From: Jeff Gibson <gibsondesign15...> Subject: [Tweeters] Maritime Katydids , and Other Things
Tweeters having lived in, or spent time in The Great Humid East in summertime, must be familiar with the loud song of the Common True Katydid: one of the loudest insect callers ever. Back there, on rare trips to places like southern Ontario, New England, and Wisconsin, this maritime north westerner was thrilled to hear these big bugs. Typically up in trees they gave the auditory illusion of the trees themselves singing, especially trees isolated out in fields.
Of course, around here we don't have those big loud things. But we do have very quiet ones. To find them I go to the beach, down to the maritime. Really.
That's because half the Katydids I've seen here in Washington state have been down near the beach, previous to now. The first Katydid was found by my daughter Roxanne (known to some as Roxy etc - I call her Rox) down on Kalaloch beach, just about ready to get drownt. I ,( with my old Peterson field guide to NA insects) figured it to be a Meadow Katydid of some sort, A small brilliant green surprise along the great Pacific.
The second Katydid I didn't find (I didn't but Roxydid) turned up at Wildberry Lake, Mason County - a big fat Fork-Tailed Bush Katydid about 2" long, looking like a green leaf with legs.Cool.
This summer I've Been Katydid rich down at Indian Island County Park - a stellar spot for the all-around naturalist - where I've found plenty of Katydids. First I noted about a million small grasshoppers flying out of the low Salicornia patches in the salt marshes down there, Several of these would fly up with every boot step and scatter in all directions, sorta hard to track, but I finally (with my close-focusing binocs) got good looks at them : some sort of small Melanoplus grasshoppers - of whatever species.But in amongst the little grasshoppers was a somewhat smaller different bug, hard to see but finally revealed to be Katydids (the Slender Meadow Katydid near as I can tell) - and lots of 'em still around this week but thinning fast with colder weather.Unlike the big loud Katydids of the Great Humid East , these guys make a very high-frequency call beyond my ability to hear. I did hear a crackling (crepitating ) big Carolina Grasshopper down on the beach though.
There are a number of interesting maritime plants in the salt marshes along the shore down there, like Plantago maritima, Cakile maritima, and Armeria maritima if you want to get specific. The Plantago I've noticed on seaside rocks for years, not knowing what it was ( ol' lazy-eyes me wrote it off as some kinda grass) but on closer inspection it has succulent leaves, which along with salty Salicornia, are pickled and eaten by some human's. Cakile is a pretty little beach flower (introduced, but it doesn't look like it's bothering anyone and bee's love it).
Then the Sea Thrift - a fine little flower which I've mostly seen on rocky bluffs and in peoples yards - it domesticates well. But here on Indian Island it grows all over the sandy, gravelly shores of the salt marsh behind the drift wood barrier along the beach. It's all done blooming (usually in spring) but in an example of autumnal recrudescence, I did find one fresh pink flower amongst the hundred of old dry seedheads.
The Sea Thrift has a wide circumboreal distribution, yet I was surprised to see it on the documentary film "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" which I watched on netflix when I got home from the beach. Yup, there it was, growing on the sea island where Luke Skywalker retired. Clearly visible as Luke, or somebody, was tip-toeing up the grassy cliffs.
Jeff Gibson may the force be with you Port Townsend Wa
P.S. I forgot to mention that I saw a Short-eared Owl down at Indian Island the other day flying in to hide in a Dougfir at noon. It appeared to be fleeing another bird from above, but I never saw what. The little tidal channels there can be good for shorebirds at appropriate tides, and the rocks (jetty and shoreline) down by the Portage also get some rocky shore birds.
P.P.S Rather than being long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, it turns out that Luke Skywalker retired in Ireland. I checked the film location credits, so as to be accurate about the thrift. Just sayin'