365 Nature – Day 340

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

Today is cold, the coldest it’s been in a long time. Shortly before we left for school this morning it started to snow. First, just a few flakes mixed into the rain, then it shifted entirely to snow. But, in one of the biggest disappointments of childhood, it stopped snowing and turned back to rain right after we left. Hopes of an outdoor forest school day in the snow were dashed. But it remained cold during the morning and we have interesting weather in store this week with more potential snow and even colder days.

I stayed warm on my walk today with many layers on, but the mist covered everything, making photos hard to take. I realized as I walked around in my winter apparel that for me, the holiday spirit is tied more to nature than anything else. Snow and cold weather mark this time of year while the hanging branches of Douglas Fir and Hemlock decorated with kinglets are better than Christmas trees. In the ash meadow, robins are constantly seen on the branches gulping down the red berries.

Early on my walk I heard crows mobbing and realized the caws were coming from the group of trees I sometimes see the Barred Owl roosting. I followed the crows and found the owl was indeed in one of its regular roosts. Later, I surprised a flock of over a dozen Dark-eyed Juncos on my walk today, scattering them in all directions, another winter bird. As I warmed my toes by walking by my daughter’s forest classroom at pickup time, a Bald Eagle soared low, right at tree level.

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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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