Woodpecker fledgling leaves Interlaken Park nest

Images: unionbaywatch.blogspot.com

Union Bay Watch has been following the family nest of Elvis the Woodpecker in Interlaken Park and has posted photos showing the rapid growth of two hatchlings likely born around June 1st. On Monday, one of the youngsters fledged the nest and was seen foraging the forest floor with Papa Elvis, prompting UBW’s Larry Hubbell to send out a dual purpose special alert:

First to let you know to watch for this beautiful little Pileated Woodpecker as you visit the park. Secondly to gently remind dog owners, of which I am one, that this would be a wonderful time to keep your pet on a leash. This young bird is just about the size of a squirrel and could be very attractive to a dog.
Given that this little fellow hatched out approximately 4 weeks ago and left the nest just two days ago. It simply has not had time to learn about danger in the real world. In addition its ability to fly has not yet reached the skill of a mature bird. Your help in protecting this young bird would be greatly appreciated.
Many more incredible photos showing the hatchlings’ busy little lives here.

Fire Station 22 to grand marshal Montlake family 4th of July parade

Image: Montlake Flyer

Image: Montlake Flyer

Montlake’s annual 4th of July parade and picnic is ready to roll through the neighborhood again this year. The festivities are set to begin at Montlake Community Center at 10am with bicycle, tricycle and stroller decoration before a “kidical mass” bicycle parade at “roughly 10:30″ following an around-the-block route. The festivities continue at 11am with a fire engine visit from Station 22 on Roanoke Ave E and a bring-your-own picnic. Montlake Family Coop will provide decorations and popsicles. All ages invited!

Montlake family 4th of July parade — Thursday, July 4th, 10am — Montlake Community Center

Montlake Family Fitness group seeks donations for new outdoor sport court

Image: seattle.gov

There’s a new community group in town. Montlake Family Fitness is a group of neighbors working to add an outdoor sport court to the renovation of the playground at Montlake Community Center this fall. Organizers are looking to raise $5,000 to put toward a larger city grant application to fund the court in full.

Montlake Family Fitness is a group of Montlake neighbors that joined to bring community approved sports and fitness elements to Montlake playground. These elements were approved during the public process for the Montlake Playground Renovation slated to start construction in the Fall of 2013. However, designated project money could not fund the new elements that community members want. Montlake Family Fitness was created to help see these elements added.

We estimate the project cost at $178K. This group is currently applying for the Large Neighborhood Match Grant for the entire project as well as the King County Youth Sport Facilities Matching Grant for a portion of the project. Community donations and volunteer hours are also needed to help fund the project as well as being requirements for matching grants.

The proposed court would be placed between the playground and west end of the track and would not include lights. Repeat: the court would not include lights. Pickle ball anyone?

This project will bring community approved sports and fitness elements to the Montlake Community Center playground.  The goal of this project is to dovetail with the 2008 Levy funded Montlake Community Center Playground Renovation.  To conserve resources and limit disruption to the neighborhood, we are coordinating with Parks and Recreation Department (Parks) and plan to add the multi-use sport court and adult fitness equipment simultaneously with the Parks scheduled playground renovation in the Fall of 2013.

A portion of the field to the north of the playground will be graded and drained.  The ground will then be poured, surfaced, and painted to accommodate multiple sports such as basketball, volley ball, pickle ball, and badminton.  Stanchions will be placed at either end of the court for basketball, and mounts will be placed at mid-court for posts to accommodate the net sports.

A concrete pad will be added along side of the playground. Approximately 4 – 6 pieces of fitness equipment will be added to the concrete pad. The position of this fitness equipment adds a benefit for families visiting the park together as parents can workout while watching their children on the playground.

Donate here.

Arboretum creating digital map of plant collection

Image: UWBG

The folks at UW Botanic Gardens are at work on a digital map of the Arboretum’s plant collection that will allow visitors to look up species info on smartphones as they wander through the park. The project includes digitizing heaps of paper records and linking the data to a GIS map of the grounds. UW News reports:

“People will be able to find an area in the arboretum, then zoom down and see which plants are there,” says Tracy Mehlin, project manager and information technology librarian at the UW’s Center for Urban Horticulture. “It will be really fascinating and educational to have all of that history linked to the plant records, and accessible online to everyone.”

One of the first tasks of the project was to begin surveying and verifying the geospatial coordinates of the 230-acre park, which decades ago was divided into 595 grid squares, each 100 feet by 100 feet. When those grid markers and coordinates are confirmed, they will be used to create a map that supports the geo-referenced database. Two- and three-person teams of students and staff have already been out surveying for the past couple months. …

Others involved are helping with various projects, including digitizing the existing maps, as well as handwritten notes and histories attached to each of the park’s 10,000 “accessions,” plants that are part of the formal collection.  The UW Botanic Gardens owns and manages the collection in the arboretum which is a City of Seattle park.

When completed, the searchable database will be a boon for environmental research, park management and visitors, Reichard said.

“The idea is that eventually you’d be able to get the coordinates of a particular collection, like our magnolias, and locate them on your cell phone or GPS unit,” she said. “We can start putting together virtual tours, and visitors can go from plant to plant.”

Union Bay Watch: The First Sign of Spring

These beautiful young owlets may very well be some of the first Washington birds hatched in 2013.

Image: unionbaywatch.com

Image: unionbaywatch.com

While this photo is not from our neighborhood there is a good chance that young Great Horned Owlets may be residing in the Arboretum. You may want to keep your eyes peeled if you go for a walk in the Arboretum around dusk. GHOs are primarily night time hunters and daytime tree potatoes. Learn more about what the young ones look like and how they behave at UBW. Owlets from the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge.

Arboretum North Entry project to reclaim wetlands, create overlook hill


All images: Seattle Parks/Berger Partnership

The end game for the new Arboretum multi-use trail announced last week is the second phase North Entry project planned for the post-520-replacement-era. The project would return the WSDOT Peninsula / Miller Street Dump to the Arboretum after it was taken for highway use half a century ago.

Things are different this time around and WSDOT will replace wetlands lost to 520′s expanding footprint with new wetlands at several sites around Lake Washington. One of those sites includes five acres on the garbage-dump-peninsula’s western shore which will be restored and planted with native species to increase biodiversity. Separate from this mitigation work but in partner with it, the proposed North Entry project would incorporate the new wetland, daylight Arboretum Creek (currently piped underground) and extend the park to the future Montlake Lid.

Some 28,000 cubic yards of earth will be regraded to create the new wetland. Rather than hauling the material offsite, the North Entry plan calls for it to be piled into a 40-foot hill at the peninsula’s south end, creating a new overlook with views of the wetland and surrounding tree canopy. 20130129-082224.jpg While the plan is still in early stages, Seattle Parks expects to reclaim ownership of the peninsula once highway construction is complete. Details of the land transfer are not settled, but it is assumed WSDOT will not keep a property for which it has no use. The Ramp-to-Nowhere made the peninsula “useless” when the R.H. Thomson was defeated in 1971 — those ramps are to be demolished by 2016.


North Entry plan. Click for larger view.

New multi-use trail coming to the Arboretum, Ramp-to-Nowhere to be demolished

Image: Seattle Parks/Berger Partnership

Image: Seattle Parks/Berger Partnership

Walking and biking in the Washington Park Arboretum will be easier in coming years, with today’s announcement of a new multi-use trail to be funded through SR 520 mitigation efforts. The trail will connect Madison Street to the south with Foster Island Road to the north in this first project phase, and eventually extend to the Arboretum’s North Entry expansion near the Montlake Lid in a second phase after 520 replacement work is complete.

The 12-foot wide trail will meander east of Lake Washington Blvd, passing the Arboretum’s new Pacific Connections garden, Azalea Way and the Wilcox Bridge. The trail will be paved with semi-rough material to create a bit of noise alerting pedestrians of on-coming cyclists. With this facility, the park will have a new 2-mile loop including the pedestrian-only Arboretum Drive.

This $7.8 million project will be the largest single donation to the Arboretum in its history, said Jack Collins, Arboretum Botanical Garden Committee (ABGC) Chair. Funding will come from WSDOT’s $300 million federal TIFIA loan secured last fall.

“This is an historic day for the Arboretum,” said ABGC member Paige Miller, in thanking state legislators for their help with this project. “The Ramps-to-Nowhere will be no more.” Demolition of the unused ramps will be part of 520′s West Approach Bridge construction beginning in 2014.

“This is a win for all parties involved,” said Julie Meredith, WSDOT’s SR 520 Program Director. “We are pleased to move forward with our mitigation efforts.” Arboretum trail funding will be paid next month with design work continuing through this year. Trail construction would start along with the West Approach Bridge in summer of 2014.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

In other Arboretum news, the Graham Visitor’s Center now has a coffee bar.

New HistoryLink: Washington Park Arboretum

Image: Seattle PI Collection, MOHAI

Image: Seattle PI Collection, MOHAI

HistoryLink has published another new neighborhood article, this time on the Washington Park Arboretum. A few highlights…

The park was planned as part of the city’s first Bicycle Master Plan, at a time when 1 of 5 Seattleites traveled by bike:

George F. Cotterill (1865-1958), then an assistant city engineer, laid out a system of bicycle trails in the city to serve the riders of the estimated 10,000 bicycles in Seattle (with a population of slightly more than 55,000 in 1898). One of the bike paths started at the top of Capitol Hill near Volunteer Park and traveled down the hill through the Interlaken area and into Washington Park.

Azalea Way was once full of horses:

The Speedway, a 40-foot-wide, dirt-covered roadway in the middle of the park, was built in 1907 for horse racing. Before cars became ubiquitous in the 1910s, the Speedway and stables that a racing club built were regularly filled with horses, drivers, and spectators for harness races.

The 520 on and off ramps were supposed to be temporary:

The ramps onto and exiting the highway were connected to Lake Washington Boulevard as a temporary measure until the expressway, named the R. H. Thomson Expressway in honor of a longtime, influential city engineer, could be constructed. The Seattle Times reported in 1963, as the new highway and bridge across the lake opened, that “the portion of Lake Washington Boulevard East through the Arboretum will be used as a temporary access route.”

Read the whole article here.

Sick Volunteer Park coyote ‘removed’ — Sightings continue in Interlaken Park?

Image: via Capitol Hill Seattle Blog

Image: via capitolhillseattle.com

CHS and King 5 report that USDA wildlife officials today shot and killed a coyote showing signs of mange that had been roaming around Volunteer Park. From CHS:

UPDATE: 3:30 PM: A USDA spokesperson tells CHS that the coyote has been killed. “I understand that the ill coyote has been found and removed.  No additional information is available at this time.” the brief statement reads. We were told the agent searching for the coyote was not on the Hill this afternoon but have not confirmed details of what agency was ultimately responsible for ending the hunt and killing the coyote believed to be suffering from mange.

Montlake Forum commenters have posted coyote sightings as recently as today, including in or near Interlaken Park. It is worth noting that Seattle Parks has recently confirmed a pack of healthy coyotes living around North Capitol Hill — so there are likely others in the area apart from the animal put down today.

Seattle Parks tells us that the search has turned up a healthy family of coyotes living near Volunteer Park — a good sign for the local ecology. “It’s great that a family of coyotes is making a good living in the area. They keep the rat and rabbit populations in check,” a Parks spokesperson tells CHS.

Arboretum holiday sale: Gifts & greens galore

Highclere holly. Image: © Roger Darlington

The Arboretum Foundation’s holiday sale and fundraiser is December 7th & 8th, offering sustainably harvested wreaths, eco-friendly swags and garlands, and plenty of non-invasive Highclere holly. The event also includes a full cornucopia of do-it-yourself decoration demos. On the program:

This year, we’re be featuring lots of DIY demonstrations and craft activities throughout the two-day event. On Friday at 1 p.m., author and outdoor living expert Debra Prinzing will show shoppers how to create beautiful holiday centerpieces using seasonal, locally grown materials; Northwest lifestyle and entertaining expert Alexandra Hedin will give a demo on Saturday at 11 a.m. about unique ways fresh greens can be used for the holidays; Sue Mariotti of The Terrarium Shop on Etsy will show you how to build a miniature terrarium (so hot right now!) on Friday, from 2 to 4 p.m., and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Foundation volunteer craft specialists and educators from UW Botanic Gardens will also host show-and-tell activities during the event.

Miniature terrariums!