365 Nature – Day 258

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Learn more about the project and see all the 365 Nature posts.


Today was the first day since Day 237 that I’d spent any time in the arboretum. Aside from a short preschool orientation, we hadn’t been to the arboretum in over two weeks and today I was eager to get back and check on the ponds. After a little morning first-day-of-school chaos which resulted me putting the fulling charged camera battery in the charger and leaving the dead one in the camera, we arrived at the arboretum. The downside of course, I had to carry my camera without getting to take any photos what-so-ever.

When I arrived at the pond I frequently visit, I immediately saw swarms of tiny invertebrates or perhaps crustaceans. The sun was shining directly on the pond illuminating the water down to the bottom and it was easy to see thousands and thousands of these small animals. I’m not sure what they were, I’ve taken photos to try and find out. As the sun shifted behind trees shining down on different parts of the water, I could see the middle was also full of the swarming creatures. They were small, but large enough to easily see with the bare eye. They were shaped like a heart, a real heart, not a valentine’s heart, with a dark stripe down their back and two swimming appendages that looked like wings, up at the top, near the head, or what I assumed was a head. My first thought is that they are daphnia, water fleas.

As the sun warmed up the damselflies came out, in good numbers, landing along the concrete wall. A few diving beetles surfaced before returning to the depths. In the algae I could see a lot of movement and as I looked, I could see a lot of worms or larvae moving, often thrashing about. I watched them shoot out of what looked like algae cocoons and pull back inside. It looked like they were making cocoons out of algae.

As I was leaving I caught sight of a small, red dragonfly. Too small to be a Cardinal Meadowhawk. Fortunately, it was an incredibly tolerant dragonfly and let me get very close to get photos with my phone. Once I got home I could analyze the photos and compare to my books. I believe it’s a Striped Meadowhawk (Sympetrum pallipes), which is a new species for me in this location. I really wish I’d charged the correct battery now. Maybe it’ll still be around tomorrow.

Later I walked to the area I found the mosquito pupae on Day 237 to see if they were still there. This time I came armed with a net, borrowed from my daughter, to try and catch the invertebrates that escaped all my attempts with my test tubes last time. Her net is a little net used for fishing and scooping up bait. But it worked perfectly to capture the small animals this time, water boatman I believe.  I found a few mosquito pupae, but nowhere near as many as last time. I also spotted a few darner dragonflies cruising over the water.

There were many birds, I spotted a Northern Shoveler, Camada Geese, Steller’s Jays, Northern Flickers, Mallards and Great Blue Herons. Lastly I spotted a pair of spreadwing damselflies in the trees, another tolerant one which let me capture a photo with my phone.

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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