365 Nature – Day 360

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


After our Christmas morning I wanted to get outside and go for a walk and so my daughter picked Mercer Slough as our destination. I hadn’t been there in almost a year, not since Day 17. Although we had a very foggy morning by the time we were ready for our walk it had burned off and the sun was shining. The elevated boardwalk was over standing water this time of the year and I stopped a one area of open water to look at the duckweed. Against the dark water I noticed a number of aquatic springtails dotting the water, showing up easily thanks to the rays of sun illuminating them. I had noticed some of these in the pond at the arboretum, especially when I rubbed the concrete wall and dozens would fall in. The springtails I noticed today were varying colors, but all similarly shaped with round abdomens. They mostly sat still on the water’s surface, unlike the springtails I would watch at the arboretum which constantly hopped around. I took some photos and thought how much better small subjects will be when I learn how to use my brand new flash.

With the sun rather low on the horizon, another tiny organism caught my eye, the mosses on the fence. They were beautifully backlit and had collected water droplets which reflected the sun. I spend a lot of time looking at the various mosses growing on the fence. When we arrived at the water I saw only a few ducks, some Mallards, Gadwall and American Wigeon. I thought I saw a Northern Pintail fly down the slough but I couldn’t be sure. Near the end of our walk the sun disappeared and the temperature seemed to drop about twenty degrees and I was glad for the sun because it showed me things I may have otherwise overlooked.

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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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