365 Nature – Day 356

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


I watched the summer solstice sunrise this morning through a clear blue sky. It’s the first official day of winter although here in Seattle it’s felt like winter for a couple of weeks. We’ve had snow and many freezing days, while the mushrooms have slowly faded away. Many people see the solstice as a time to start counting the days to spring, but there are many benefits to these longer nights. As the sun rises later and sets earlier, the beautiful sunrises and sunsets are more accessible at reasonable hours, particularly for kids. It’s also easier, if you’re not a morning person, to watch the birds early in the day because they’re active later.

Of course, one of my favorite aspects of the longer nights is the late afternoon crow rush hour. They fly so early that it’s still afternoon and I can always catch them flying overhead going south to their roost. Tonight we were at the beach along Lake Washington behind our house with visiting friends when the crows started flying over coming from Seward Park, along the lake. They flew directly over us in several waves, wide swaths of evenly spaced crows black against the changing sky. The setting sun cast light back to the east, reflecting off the clouds and down onto the surface of Lake Washington, book-ending my day.

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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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  1. Interesting–the crows in my neighborhood near the University Bridge head north to the end of Lake Washington.

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