365 Nature – Day 350

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


As we make the transition to winter, officially December 21st, I’m noticing quite a change. Not only is it much colder with several icy days in recent weeks, the fungi which was so abundant all autumn has now disappeared. Through mid-October to the end of November there were mushrooms absolutely everywhere I looked and although I posted many days about fungi, I knew I had to take advantage before they all disappeared. Now that the cold weather is here, the fungi has gone, except for one patch near my daughter’s forest classroom. This patch of light and dark brown mushrooms has persisted over the last week, but I’ve mostly overlooked it while focusing on other winter things. Today I stopped to take a look at these long-lasting mushrooms. I wonder how the cold weather affects them and how they continue to sprout when nearly all other fungi has melted back into the ground.

As I waited for the kids to return to their classroom at pickup time, I watched the opportunistic crows. I know from the past that the crows watch the classroom, which is outdoors, and wait for the kids and teachers to leave. The reason they do this is easy to see as they dig through the small garbage and compost containers in the center of the circle where the kids gather for snack and lunch. In the past I’ve seen the crows descend quietly while the class was away. I’ve also seen the mess they can make when left alone with orange and banana peels scattered around the circle, garbage strewn about and holes poked in the garbage bags. Today a dozen or more fluttered around the circle until the class returned sending the crows up into the trees in the classroom. They didn’t go far, just to the other side of the classroom where they gathered in a rough circle cawing at one another. What that gathering was about, I don’t know. But I do know I love watching the crows in the arboretum and how they can be so stealthy when picking apart the classroom’s garbage, yet so loud when harassing a Barred Owl.

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Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist, writer and photographer based in Seattle. She is the author of NATURE OBSCURA: A City’s Hidden Natural World, 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.
Kelly Brenner
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