365 Nature – Day 177

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Each day of the year I will post something here about nature. It may be any format, a photo, video, audio, sketch or entry from my nature journal. It could be a written piece. Each day I will connect to nature in some way and share it here by the end of that day. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to the RSS feed or be notified by email. See all the 365 Nature posts.

June is also 30 Days Wild and I’m participating again this year.


At the end of my third day at a writing conference, having sat inside for many hours, I had to get outside. I confess I escaped a little bit early and drove north to the Tennant Lake Unit which is part of the Whatcom Wildlife Area. A fragrance garden designed as a sensory garden is one of the first things I saw when I arrived, being in full bloom. Standing tall above the garden is a fifty foot viewing tower which offers views of the surrounding wetlands.

My main objective however was the boardwalk through the wetlands. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website describes how the boardwalk “meanders through swamp and marsh habitats along the edge of the lake providing views of birds, vegetation and aquatic animals.” That may very well be true, but the water lilies are growing so dense, it’s hard to know there’s even a lake there. A month ago it was probably pretty obvious, but now in late June, you’d never know there was a large body of water next to the boardwalk. The rest of the boardwalk is mostly wedged in by native plants and if I were about eight feet tall I’d have had great views of all the birds singing in the wetlands. As it was, I heard a lot, but saw very little.

I had expected many dragonflies in the wetlands, but the water lilies covering the water must make the lake unsuitable for anything but a few damselflies because I saw very few dragons. Near the beginning of the path, where a creek runs along the trail, I found a few dragons – all Blue Dashers. I saw more dragonflies buzzing over the Whatcom Community College campus during lunch earlier in the day than I saw at the wetlands.

There was one curiosity and it was something I heard, not saw. All along the water I heard a sound that I guessed must be a frog, but it didn’t sound like a bullfrog and it didn’t sound like a Pacific Tree Frog. A bit of research in Amphibians of the Pacific Northwest and listening to calls online, I believe they were the introduced Green Frog (Rana clamitans). Their calls reminded me of a certain old toy that you’d turn upside-down and when righted made a kind of ‘moo’ sound. These calls were all over the wetlands.


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Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist, writer and photographer based in Seattle. She is the author of a book about urban nature, coming Spring 2020 from Mountaineers Books. She writes freelance articles about natural history and has bylines in Crosscut, ParentMap, National Wildlife Magazine and others. On the side she writes fiction.

Kelly holds a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon and a certificate in non-fiction writing from the University of Washington.

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