365 Nature – Day 60

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Each day of the year I will post something here about nature. It may be any format, a photo, video, audio, sketch or entry from my nature journal. It could be a written piece. Each day I will connect to nature in some way and share it here by the end of that day. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to the RSS feed or be notified by email. See all the 365 Nature posts.


When I realized, shortly after beginning the 365 Nature project that the year I’d chosen for this quest was a leap year, I thought perhaps I’d take a day off. Deep down I knew I wouldn’t, I like sets, collections, things complete. Besides, a day when nature doesn’t happen or isn’t experienced is not a choice I’d make. Even yesterday, with the driving rain and hail I still experienced nature, albeit behind a window, safe and dry inside. In the end, I’m glad of leap day because I had the experience of hearing a Barred Owl call out “who cooks for yoooooou” twice today as I sat on a bench in the sun in my ‘office’.

On my walk this morning around the arboretum I found many green fingers pushing out of the earth and seedlings growing in vain in the bark of a Douglas Fir. I stopped to listen to a Pacific Wren singing with a pair of Spotted Towhees. The white variety of the Red-flowering Currant was in full bloom, but the morning was too cold for any pollinators to visit. Mushrooms sprouted up all over the ground where I was looking for a place to sit down and across from my chosen seat, the tips of Skunk Cabbage rose up along the creek edge. The weather, as it’s been lately, was volatile – one moment sun rays warmed me and the next angry black clouds chilled me thoroughly.

Later, while walking through some grass I was stopped by a black and orange feather at my feet. I bent down to pick it up and found many more near it. As I walked in an ever-growing arc I found more and more feathers, small and large ones, all in the same color scheme, it was a feather I’d encountered before, not far from that very spot. I suspect a Cooper’s Hawk recently dined on a Varied Thrush in the branches above the feathers. But unlike the Pine Siskin remains I found in our own yard, there was no sign of downy feathers. Whether they had drifted away or the hawk had finished plucking the thrush elsewhere, I couldn’t say.

Looking over my photos of the day I realized they really illustrate the change of the season right now – stormy clouds silhouetting bare tree branches, bright, cheery flowers blooming, mushrooms poking out of the ground, moss soaking up the rain – it’s certainly a time of transition.

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Kelly Brenner
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Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist and writer based in Seattle. She founded and writes The Metropolitan Field Guide, a blog for ideas, thoughts and resources for the design of urban wildlife habitat and has contributed articles to a variety of other websites and publications.

Kelly has a certificate from the University of Washington in non-fiction writing. She continually takes classes and attends talks on various natural history topics. In 2009 she earned a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon.

She's also an avid photographer focusing on the natural world.
Kelly Brenner
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