Recent local blog posts

New Year’s Eve at Noon

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 09/08/2016 - 9:42am
Event:  Sat, 12/31/2016 - 10:00am - 4:00pm

Kids can enjoy plenty of playtime, New Year’s Eve crafts, face painting, hats, noisemakers, a FREE family picture, and more! Closed on Monday, January 2, in observance of the holiday. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 09/08/2016 - 9:41am
Event:  Sat, 12/17/2016 - 2:00pm - 4:00pm

Snowflakes and snow crystals are fascinating and complex. Join us at the WET Science Center for a 2pm presentation about the science of snow, including stunning visuals and hands-on activities, and expand your understanding of the winter wonderland. Plus we’ll make snow crafts and do fun activities all day long! logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Legends of the Land

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 09/08/2016 - 9:32am
Event:  Sat, 12/10/2016 - 2:00pm - 4:00pm

There have always been stories about the origin of the land and the life that calls it home. These ancient stories are powerful and rooted in science. From Salmon Woman to mice hiding in Douglas Fir cones, you’ll hear a variety of stories that come from our local Salish peoples and from around the world that teach respect for nature and the cycle of life. Stories begin at 2pm at the WET Science Center. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Moss & Lichenology 101

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 09/08/2016 - 9:31am
Event:  Sat, 12/03/2016 - 2:00pm - 4:00pm

Lichens and moss are found on tree trunks, sidewalk cracks, mountain tops, forest floors – and even Antarctica! How is it that these organisms can thrive in so many diverse environments? Join us at the WET Science Center for a day of adventure and learning as we explore the awesome lives of mosses and lichens and the roles they play in our ecosystems. With common names like Fairy Puke and Golden Moon Glow, who wouldn’t want to find out more about these fascinating organisms? Presentation starts at 2pm, followed by an interactive microscope activity. Moss and lichen activities in the classroom all day. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Underwater Science: Meet an EPA Scuba Diver!

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 09/08/2016 - 9:30am
Event:  Sat, 11/19/2016 - 2:00pm - 4:00pm

Kris Leefers, Scientific Diver for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will present at 2pm at the WET Science Center on the special work of her Dive Unit. She explores both fresh and saltwater, and polluted water, throughout the Pacific Northwest. Listen to her stories, learn about her gear, and discover how her work impacts environmental programs, research, and law enforcement. Then, touch and try on real EPA dive gear. Great opportunity for a unique scuba selfie! All ages welcome. For a sneak peek visit logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

What is a Watershed Anyway?

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 09/08/2016 - 9:29am
Event:  Sat, 11/12/2016 - 2:00pm - 4:00pm

What is a watershed, and what does it have to do with me? We’ll explore the answers to those questions through a hands-on workshop where you and your family can design a watershed and engineer solutions to protect it. This 2pm program is best for ages 10 and up, but families of all ages can participate together and learn how to protect the water around us! logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Around the World in 80 Flushes

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 09/08/2016 - 9:26am
Event:  Sat, 11/05/2016 - 2:00pm - 4:00pm

From outhouses to squat toilets and everywhere in between, the average human spends nearly 100 days on the toilet over their lifetime! But that doesn’t look the same everywhere you go. Come in for a 2pm presentation about different toilets around the world, including the International Space Station! We’ll also talk about the 2.4 billion people around the planet who don’t have a toilet and what that means for them. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Bioluminescence and Spooky Creatures of the Deep

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 09/08/2016 - 9:24am
Event:  Sat, 10/29/2016 - 2:00pm - 4:00pm

Some of earth’s spookiest creatures live in the deepest parts of the ocean. Come to the WET Science Center for a 2pm presentation that will amaze and inspire you through enchanting photos and videos of mesmerizing bioluminescence. Make anglerfish hats – a great Halloween costume option – and other bioluminescent art throughout the day. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Fall Art: Salmon and Leaves

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 09/08/2016 - 9:23am
Event:  Sat, 10/22/2016 - 10:00am - 4:00pm

Celebrate fall by creating beautifully colored works of art inspired by leaves and the returning salmon at the WET Science Center. Design color-diffusing paper leaves, leaf or fish prints, and much more. We provide the supplies and inspiration, you bring the creativity! Feel free to bring in your own fall leaves to use in your artwork. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Shake, Rattle & Roll – Exploring Pacific Northwest Earthquakes

OlyBlog Home Page - Thu, 09/08/2016 - 9:21am
Event:  Sat, 10/15/2016 - 2:00pm - 4:00pm

Rocking! Ripping! Jolting! Shaking! This is what happens when tectonic plates collide and separate. The Cascadia Subduction Zone, a fault that runs from Northern California to Vancouver Island, is a big crack in the Earth’s crust that is part of the infamous Pacific Ring of Fire. Bring the family to the WET Science Center and make your own “earthquake wave box” and learn about plate tectonics, geologic history, and seismic risk in the Pacific Northwest. Presentation begins at 2pm and is best for ages 10 and up. Related activities in the classroom all day. logo Twitter logo Google Plus One Facebook Like

Saint Martin’s University Cross Country Team Lends a Hand

Thurston Talk - Thu, 09/08/2016 - 7:04am


Submitted by Saint Martin’s University Saint Martin’s University men’s and women’s cross country teams gave back to the beach they run on in the third annual beach clean-up. On August 24, SMU cleaned up Westport Beach on the Washington coast as a way to give back to the local community. “We have an amazing group […]

Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week

Thurston Talk - Thu, 09/08/2016 - 6:57am


Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton Diego is a handsome male pit bull terrier. He has been micro-chipped which can be switched over to his new owner. Diego is a very sweet boy who loves cuddles, walks, and time in the play yard. He enjoys car rides and does well walking on leash. He does know […]

5 Home Staging Techniques You May Not Know

Thurston Talk - Thu, 09/08/2016 - 6:00am


Design Smart Home Staging and Redesign applies important design techniques to the thousands of homes they have staged that truly affect the way buyers feel about a home, ensuring they sell quickly and for greater profit for the seller. Feng Shui Feng Shui is a contemporary design approach that uses the placement of things and […]

Thrifty Thurston Logs the Best Seat in Town for Watching Migrating Salmon near Olympia

Thurston Talk - Thu, 09/08/2016 - 6:00am


In the Pacific Northwest, salmon are beloved in our waterways, artwork, cuisine, and the occasional crosswalk. The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office acknowledge that “Washingtonians rely on salmon for food, recreation, jobs, cultural identity, and social tradition. These iconic fish evoke the best Washington has to offer—pristine water, rich landscapes, a healthy environment, and […]

Brats Brews and Bands – Dine, Drink and Dance for a Good Cause on September 10

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/07/2016 - 1:41pm


Summer officially ends later this month and the Gateway Rotary Club wants to help you squeeze every last drop of fun out of the season at their fourth annual Brats Brews and Bands event. Taking place from 1:00 to 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 10, the event includes fantastic food, a wide array of beverages and […]

North Thurston Public Schools Welcomes New Superintendent Dr. Debra Clemens

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/07/2016 - 10:34am


A new school year is upon us. Pencils are sharpened, lockers are clean and backpacks are packed with new supplies. And, in North Thurston Public Schools (NTPS), teachers, parents and students are excited to start a new era of leadership under the guidance of Superintendent Dr. Debra Clemens. Former superintendent Raj Manhas retired at the […]

Elite Cleaning of Washington: Partnering for Success

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/07/2016 - 6:00am


Businesswoman Delphine Arnault once said “I firmly believe that success lies in the combination of both talent and business savvy, and that the magic comes through partnership between both.” At Elite Cleaning of Washington, growth and success come from open communication between customers, management, and employees. Entrepreneurs acknowledge that “building a good partnership requires appreciation […]

Blind Pig Spirits Brings Craft Distilling to Downtown Olympia

Thurston Talk - Wed, 09/07/2016 - 6:00am


Downtown Olympia recently welcomed its first craft distillery and tasting room – Blind Pig Spirits. Blind pig refers to a prohibition-era drinking establishment, similar to a speakeasy. In order to circumvent prohibition laws, customers would be charged a fee to view an animal in the backroom and then be served a “complimentary cocktail.” These establishments became […]

Here Be Dragons

Bees, Birds & Butterflies - Tue, 09/06/2016 - 12:41pm
Text by Nancy Partlow©.  All photos taken at Capitol Lake by Nancy Partlow©, unless other wise noted.
In our community there is a magical kingdom.  Towered over by a castle on a hill, it is known by the mundane name of  Capitol Lake, but for the countless creatures  roaming its aqueous realm, it is a cradle of life.  Anyone who has ever peered through a microscopic lens at a drop of pond water has glimpsed this mysterious world. 
As Capitol Lake has slowly filled with sediment over the years, many native species have benefited from its increasingly marsh-like condition.   One group of insects  that has prospered greatly are members of the order Odonata, comprised of dragonflies (Anisoptera) and damselflies (Zygoptera).  Dancing over the water at Percival Cove, zooming like sunlit fairies above the east lawn at Heritage Park, defending territories and fighting for mates along the  Marathon Park shoreline, dragonflies and damselflies are a consistent summer and autumn-time presence at Capitol Lake.  Male Western Pondhawk on Heritage Park lawnOdonates are creatures of freshwater wetlands, and the lake is perfect  habitat for them.  With its shallow depth, muddy bottom and summertime algal mats, the lake is a lentic lagoon and a dragonfly heaven.

I'd previously garnered some limited knowledge about odonates from Janet and Glen, but recently learned a lot more while attending a presentation by well-known expert Dennis Paulson at a Stream Team sponsored event at the WET Center.  Author of Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West, Paulson's comprehensive field guide is filled with fascinating and specific information about these charismatic mega-fauna of the insect world.   I was surprised to learn that beside their great diversity in appearance, each species has differing behaviors for hunting, mating, egg-laying and even perching. 
The language used to describe odonata reflects the way they have captured the human imagination:  dragons and damsels, jewelwings and emeralds, sprites and dancers, even the more explicative skimmers, darners, dashers and hawks.
Damselfly on emergent vegetation at Capitol Lake's middle basin
The immature forms of these insects are called nymphs, although the name hardly reflects the classical definition of the word - they are fierce-looking bugs.  The larval phase comprises the vast majority of the odonate life cycle, which is lived under water.  A nymph's sole purpose in life is to eat and grow through voracious predation upon other aquatic invertebrates. 
After several months and molts, the nymph crawls out of the water  and clamps its legs onto a piece of shoreline vegetation, where it bursts its exoskeleton and emerges into aerial form.  Although I've never seen any of these shed skins called exuviae, there must be many of them hidden in the vegetation around the lake. 
Bright red as an adult, this is an immature Autumn Meadowhawk, just recently emerged
from the lake.  It will gain adult coloration over a period of days or weeks.
Paulson refers to dragonflies as "Natures Rainbows", and they really are.  Their variety of colors and patterns are amazing.  As a wildlife photographer, I love to shoot dragonflies. They're beautiful and make excellent subjects since, unless they're twisting their swivel heads, they perch stock still.  
It's been really fun and interesting trying to discover just how many species of dragonflies breed in Capitol Lake.  I've documented eleven so far, out of the total 33 species recorded for Thurston County as a whole.  Here are their photographs:Cardinal Meadowhawk near the entrance to the CLIC
Eight-spotted skimmer at the Interpretive Trail A Blue-eyed Darner suns in shrubbery along the CLIC trail. This species belongs to the genus Aeshna, whose members are known as Mosaic Darners for the decorative patterns resembling mosaics on their abdomens.
Variegated Meadowhawks mating in a copulation wheel at the CLIC.
Shadow Darner male
Female Western PondhawkA male Common Whitetail perching on the ground in the middle of the CLIC
main trail - a typical pose.
 Common Whitetails are highly dimorphic.  This female  was perched on
 a rock near the lower falls at Capitol Lake's south basin.Blue Dasher male perched on reed canary grass at Marathon Park.
Male Blue Dashers waiting for females at a CLIC pond.Juvenile male California Darner near south basin of Capitol Lake in May.  According to Paulsen's book, the California Darner is "...almost always (the) first dragonfly to appear in spring, throughout at least (its) northern part of range".
Female California darner ovipositing eggs in an algal mat near CLIC dock. The floating vegetation helps protect the eggs from foraging fish.  

As adults, dragonflies and damselflies are both predator and prey.  The lake which gives them life is also nursery to many other insect species that fly as adults, such as caddisflies, stoneflies, mayflies, midges and mosquitoes, to name a few.  Odonates eat them all. Beetles, flies and Lepidoptera are other common food items, as evidenced by this video I took of a female Western Pondhawk masticating a moth at the Interpretive Center, the scales from its wings floating away in the breeze: 
In a terrific and highly unusual photo, local nature photographer Barry Troutman captured a Shadow Darner eating an insect being parasitized by a wasp at the CLIC.
Shadow Darners derive their name from their habit of conducting much of
their activity in the shade.
PHOTO: ©Barry Troutman

Odonates make a good meal for other animals.  Spiders and frogs take their share, and at least 40 species of birds, probably more, are known to consume odonata larvae and/or adults, including the Blue and Green Herons that haunt the shoreline of Capitol Lake.
Despite the name, this is the only Common Green Darner I've seen at Capitol Lake - caught in
a spider web.
Green Heron at Percival Cove.

A Cardinal Meadowhawk perches on a branch near an American Bullfrog near the entrance to the CLIC.  Several Blue Dasher dragonflies also flew near this frog, just out of reach.
I asked Dennis Paulson whether odonates could survive the transition of the lake to an estuary.  Sadly, the answer is no.  Like many magical kingdoms, this one would retreat into legend.  Until such a day comes however, I will visit as often as possible, and allow myself to be willingly spellbound by its mystery and beauty.---------Many thanks to Dennis Paulson and Barry Troutman for their help.----------Resources:
Odonata Central records for dragonfly and damselfly species in Thurston County:
Nature's Deadly Drone, from the New York Times:
A female Western Pondhawk finds good camouflage on an Oregon Grape leaf

Categories: Local Environment

The Horse Doctor is IN – Chambers Prairie Expands Reach with New Equine Veterinarian

Thurston Talk - Tue, 09/06/2016 - 6:00am


Dr. Michael Clark’s favorite part of being a veterinarian is developing a base of trust with clients. “When you build trust through taking care of the animals and finding out what they want, it’s extremely strong,” he says. “I’ve seen people who’ve had bad relationships or bad interactions with their veterinarian and a lot of […]

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