365 Nature – Day 347

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


This morning was dark, one of our infamous Seattle dreary days, and it hasn’t improved. Although the radar map showed the rain clouds had passed by this morning, a mist still floated down through the air, coating everything in dampness during my walk. It makes it hard to see anything because my wet glasses obscure my vision. Not that many birds are out in this type of weather anyway, aside from the juncos, which are always active. I did spot one of the Barred Owls in the north end roost and pointed out to a passing couple.

The rest of my walk I kept my head down and studied the various tree bark. In the arboretum, there is no shortage of diversity of tree bark. Indeed, some trees are cultivated and planted specifically for their interesting bark. But my favorites are the trees with bark that harbor life, like Douglas Fir and Big-leaf Maple. Douglas Fir bark, especially the really old trees, have large crevices running vertically along the trunk and many are filled with spider silk and small insects. I suspect birds may even shelter in some of the larger cracks between the bark. The Big-leaf Maple’s  bark is often covered in moss, sometimes so thick it’s hard to see the brown bark underneath. It also hosts many lichens and this time of year they and the mosses are lush and green and starting to reproduce and showing their fruiting bodies.

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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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