Diary of an Urban Wild Garden: Backyard Bees

On the door of my study hangs a poster of the backyard bees of North America and often when I’m thinking, my eyes fall on this poster and I lose my train of thought as I examine the multitude of bees. My thoughts turn to the many bees I’ve watched in my wildlife garden and how each year, more and more show up as the plants mature and I add new native flowers.

Butterflies, moths, beetles – they come and go and I can’t be guaranteed seeing them on any given day, but bees, they are always there and I can go out anytime from spring to autumn and know I will find them. My yard isn’t large, but I’ve followed the advice of the Continue reading →

Field Journal: Valkmusa National Park

The promise of extensive bogs and rare moths and butterflies drew me to my final destination on my tour of Finland’s National Parks. It had begun with a visit north to Syöte National Park where I spent a few days exploring with a small group. After returning to Helsinki, I set out on a four day solo trip first visiting Puurijarvi-Isosuo National Park and Kurjenrahka National Park to the east and then driving back towards Helsinki to Nuuksio National Park and the Haltia Nature Center. My final day found me east of Helsinki, near the Russian border, along the Gulf of Finland in Kotka to visit Valkmusa National Park.

Only a small section of Valkmusa National Park is accessible by trail and there are only two trail…

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5 Marine Biology Books

It’s no secret that I spend a lot of time at the beach looking for and photographing marine invertebrates. Many, if not most, of my encounters lead to countless questions about what I’ve found. What does that anemone eat? Why are the sand dollars on end and not flat? Why does that crab have seaweed attached to it? Why is that shaggy mouse nudibranch white and not brown?

To find the answers to these questions, and to identify what I’ve seen, I always return home and quickly consult my books. Over the decade I’ve lived in Seattle and began visiting the tidal zone frequently, I’ve accumulated a small collection of regional books as well as others about one of my favorite habitats.

Recently, Elizabeth Mills, who you may remember…

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Poem of the Week: Winter-Time

By Robert Louis Stevenson

Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,
A blood-red orange, sets again.

Before the stars have left the skies,
At morning in the dark I rise;
And shivering in my nakedness,
By the cold candle, bathe and dress.

Close by the jolly fire I sit
To warm my frozen bones a bit;
Or with a reindeer-sled, explore
The colder countries round the door.

When to go out, my nurse doth wrap …

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Red-nosed Reindeer: The Story of the Reindeer Snot Bot

Maybe it wasn’t light at all, but something far darker, that turned Rudolph’s nose red.

During the peak of summer in the far north of Scandinavia, reindeer have forsaken the snow and lichen of winter and are busy foraging on the soft new plant growth like sedge and cotton grass, fireweed and goldenrod and the leaves of birch and willow trees. With abundant food the reindeer gorge themselves, putting on weight before the return of winter, while the new calves, who were born in the spring, grow alongside their mothers. It is a carefree time of plenty — or it should be, but reindeer aren’t the only animals in the north enjoying the season of abundance.

During a warm sunny day, hovering in front of a reindeer’s face is what looks like a fuzzy, yellow and black bee,…

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Poem of the Week: Winter: My Secret

By Christina Rossetti

I tell my secret? No indeed, not I;
Perhaps some day, who knows?
But not today; it froze, and blows and snows,
And you’re too curious: fie!
You want to hear it? well:
Only, my secret’s mine, and I won’t tell.

Or, after all, perhaps there’s none:
Suppose there is no secret after all,
But only just my fun.
Today’s a nipping day, a biting day;
In which one wants a shawl,
A veil, a cloak, and other wraps:
I cannot ope to everyone who taps,
And let the draughts come whistling thro’ my hall;
Come bounding and surrounding me,
Come buffeting, astounding me,
Nipping and clipping thro’ my wraps and all.
I wear my mask for warmth: who ever shows
His nose to Russian snows
To be pecked at by every wind that blows?
You would not peck? I thank you for good will,
Believe, but leave the truth untested still.