[Tweeters] Maritime Katydids , and Other Things

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign15 at gmail.com
Sun Oct 21 11:24:52 PDT 2018

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.

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

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'
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