Galbraith Mountain is located in Washington State approximately 33 km south from the US-Canada border and approximately 5 km east of the Pacific Ocean (Bellingham Bay). It is a mountainous area of approximately 12 km^2 (3000 acres). The mountain is partially a public park and partially owned by Galbraith Tree Farm LLC (a logging company) and is used for both recreation and logging. The mountain is more of a foothill with 544 m (1785 ft) of elevation gain. There are many peaks and valleys throughout the mountain, which makes it a good place for mountain biking.
As there is logging there are some areas that are covered in older trees, some areas that have been clear cut and mostly contain shrub-type plants and rocks, and then there are areas where new growth is apparent with straight rows of trees. Many slugs, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, and birds live on the mountain. A mountain lion considers the mountain as his territory, although he is rarely seen and sadly will not likely be part of this study.
Since the mountain is so large, I will focus only on a small subsection focused on the north side, which starts at the end of Birch Street and, for the purposes of my study, ends where the trail Mama Bear starts. The reason for this limit is because it is what I can reasonably cover on a walk and it covers a wide range of habitats depending on what I wish to focus on.
I visited my chosen area on June 7, 2020 at 15:00. The weather was warm and dry despite the rain last night at 18°C (63°F). It was cool in the shade and there was no faunal activity on the Ridge Trail with the exception of one of the squirrels who enjoys playing on our trees and fence. The ferns were growing like crazy in the open and shady areas, but they were less dense in the sun. There were no slugs on the Ridge Trail, but there were a few trying to cross the sunny trails–some were unfortunate and had expired from human activity. It was strange to see slugs crossing the trails in the sun and heat–I usually only see them during the evening and in the early morning.
When I reached the top of the SST Road I saw many bees helping themselves to the abundant clover. You could hear the bees buzzing throughout this clear cut area/meadow. The clover varied in size from approximately a few centimetres to approximately 10 cm. It was abundant near the trail, but as one looked further from the trail, the clover gave way to larger plants including foxglove, which is in full bloom both white and pink, and what I think are mountain geraniums–little pink flowers on red stems–as well as bushes that I could not identify. There were a few small brown birds that hung out on the trail, but would fly into the bushes as soon as they saw us. There were also a few dragonflies (blue) hanging out on the trail in a sheltered, but open area.
Based on all my observations three questions that could form the basis of my research project are:
- Where do ferns thrive?
- What plants do these slugs love enough to be outside in the sun? What plants do these slugs avoid? Why are they thriving in my backyard?
- What sorts of plants thrive in the clear cut areas? What invasive species have taken over and pushed out the native species?