The Virginia rail is a small waterbird, fairly common despite continuing loss of habitat, but are secretive by nature and more often heard than seen.
Seaside First Saturday Art Walk
Fairweather House and Gallery
Through the years, local habitat lecture every First Saturday by Neal Maine at 6:pm.
Neal Maine, naturalist, spoke about the nurse logs that establish marching orders for future forests during the Fairweather Gallery opening reception of ‘March’ on the March 2nd Seaside First Saturday Art Walk.
Even though they’re dead, they are not gone — trees find a way to help each other out postmortem. Introducing the nurse log. Defined as fallen trees that provide “ecological facilitation” as they decay, nurse logs offer seedlings shade, nutrients, water and protection from disease and pathogens, thus nurturing and making way for the new generation.
How does it work, you ask? Well, the process begins with a fallen tree’s gradual breakdown of lignin following its death. Lignin is a group of polymers that help form the trees’ structural tissues, especially in wood and bark. Biodegradation of lignin is facilitated by microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria — white rot fungi, more specifically, is responsible for breaking down wood on the forest floor. As the lignin deteriorates, holes and niches in the bark begin to grow in size and, over time, become filled with soil, moss, mushrooms and small plants. This dark soil is called humus, the nitrogen-rich organic matter that forms when plant and animal matter decay. When moss covers the exterior of the log itself, the decaying process is expedited, and new plant species are more easily supported.
Plants aren’t the only ones that benefit, however. Many small animal species such as squirrels are also known to roost on or in nurse logs, enriching the humus and providing additional fertilization for germinating seeds and sprouts with their food debris. –Allie Wisniewski, American Forests
“This tree I saw at Skipanon Forest, an NCLC Reserve. This Sitka spruce fell over some time ago, but instead of dying, it decided to become at least seven new “trees” from its branches. The largest new tree (just left of center) looked to be nearly a foot in diameter and perhaps 30’ tall. Amazing what a tree will do to keep on keeping on.” Jeffrey Roehm, NCLC steward
Take a note!
Next Seaside First Saturday Art Walk
Fairweather House and Gallery
Next local habitat lecture by Neal Maine at 6:pm on April 6.
For more info about the Art Walk events, please visit www.facebook.com/SeasideFirstSaturdayArtWalk
Neal Maine introduced a catalog of PacificLight Images recently at Fairweather House and Gallery; an exclusive catalog featuring his entire collection with images that can be special ordered as framed prints or as matted prints, representing more than a decade of habitat photography.
100% profits from the sale proceeds in support of North Coast Land Conservancy, NCLC.
To read more about North Coast Land Conservancy, please go to https://nclctrust.org/rare-
For more about the naturalist/ photographer Neal Maine, please visit his artist’s page at