365 Nature – Day 192

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.


Since I hadn’t visited Waterworks Gardens this summer yet and it was sunny at the moment, we decided to drive to Renton this afternoon and see if we could find dragonflies. Unfortunately, as soon as we arrived the clouds rolled over the sun reducing the temperatures slightly. We started at the top entrance and right away I could see the water levels were going to be very low. The top pond had very little water and as we walked down, most the ponds were already dry, some earth-cracking dry. There was very little in the way of odonates to see until we reached the largest pond at the bottom. The water is the lowest this early in the summer I’ve seen the ponds and unfortunately, it reflected in the dragonfly population. The cooler clouds may have played a role, but I saw very few exuvia on the reeds and cattails, indicating fewer dragonflies have emerged recently. I did spot a handful of darners, one Common Whitetail and one Western Pondhawk.

It wasn’t a total disappointment however, because as I walked along the biggest pond I noticed something in the water and I was able to see a muskrat before it dove down under and disappeared. We walked around the edges looking for it but didn’t see it again so we kept walking the rest of the path. I startled a Cooper’s Hawk from one of the dry ponds beds and it flew away out of sight. A few of the same orange and black beetles were scattered around on leaves along the path. We reached the end and walked back, taking care to approach the big pond quietly and were rewarded with another look at the muskrat. It was on the opposite side of the pond along the bank, eating vegetation. We got to watch it for a couple of minutes before it disappeared again, this time for good.

The clouds persisted so we walked back up past all the dry ponds again and as we reached the top, a motion next to the path caught my eye and I saw a Garter Snake. We got to look at it before it slid away into the vegetation.

Kelly Brenner
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Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist and writer based in Seattle. She founded and writes The Metropolitan Field Guide, a blog for ideas, thoughts and resources for the design of urban wildlife habitat and has contributed articles to a variety of other websites and publications.

Kelly has a certificate from the University of Washington in non-fiction writing. She continually takes classes and attends talks on various natural history topics. In 2009 she earned a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon.

She's also an avid photographer focusing on the natural world.
Kelly Brenner
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