Field Journal: Arboretum CNC

On the final two days of the Seattle City Nature Challenge I visited my daughter’s outdoor forest preschool at the arboretum. I talked to the kids about citizen science and how they could all contribute to science and then read a story about finding nature in the city. The kids of course, are already familiar with the concept of urban nature as they encounter it every day at school. They dig around for worms and centipedes, keep a close eye on the weather, watch the Bald Eagles and Barred Owls and visit the ponds to see dragonflies and turtles.

After our talk the class set out on a data gathering adventure. The kids explored, pointing out plants, lichens, mosses and bugs while myself and the teachers took photos to upload to iNaturalist. The kids were soon running around yelling they found ‘data’ and directing the adults to it. We added…

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365 Nature – Day 299

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


The complete opposite of yesterday, this morning was much brighter and the sun even came out. Naturally, I didn’t bring my tripod. I contented myself with a walk through the woodland garden which is ablaze with the Japanese Maples. There are as many colors are there are varieties and though they’ve passed their peak, it’s still a colorful walk. There are so many mushrooms yet to discover around the arboretum. As soon as one disappears, more emerge from the ground.

I then ventured down to the pond and stuck my net into the vegetation and was surprised how much colder the water has already turned since summer. I pulled out the usual, damselfly larvae and scuds, snails and flatworms. I was interested to examine the scuds again to…

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365 Nature – Day 270

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


Today feels like the last hurrah of summer. And what a glorious sunny day it is. Although I’ve been waiting impatiently for the arrival of autumn, today’s last embrace of warm weather turned into a wonderful experience at the pond I’ve visited so much this summer. I arrived as the sun lit up only a small piece of the pond, but before long the sun spread over the trees and the pond was fully illuminated. Very early, much to my surprise, damselflies starting landing around me despite the cool morning air, all Pacific Forktails as far as I could see. They were actively hunting and I saw more than a couple catch small flies in midair. A short time later the first dragonfly, a darner, fly flew across the pond…

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365 Nature – Day 264

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


Yesterday, on Day 263 I looked at the leaves starting to change colors. Today I noticed more signs of autumn as I walked around the arboretum. The first seems like it should be more a sign of spring, because we associate new greenery with that season and not autumn. However, like the moss I saw yesterday, a return to green is common with a return of the rain and today I noticed Licorice Ferns sprouting from trees. They nearly always grow on the trees, often high up on the branches and often rooted in mosses. But as the dry summer months drag on, the ferns often turn brown and dry up. With the return of rain they come back to life. Autumn is not a time of…

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365 Nature – Day 259

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


Some may say “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade”, but I say, when the wind blows a spider onto your lap, take a photo. What else is a naturalist to do when a pink spider falls out of a tree with a leaf and lands on the keyboard? I can’t say I’ve ever encountered a spider that was pink before, but this one had an abdomen that was certainly that shade. You never know what the wind will drop on you, better take advantage of it.

This year, my daughter is in 5 day-a-week forest preschool and I’ll be visiting the arboretum much more than last year. I’ve already found one benefit, seeing how things can change with only one day difference. Yesterday, on Day 258 the weather…

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365 Nature – Day 258

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


Today was the first day since Day 237 that I’d spent any time in the arboretum. Aside from a short preschool orientation, we hadn’t been to the arboretum in over two weeks and today I was eager to get back and check on the ponds. After a little morning first-day-of-school chaos which resulted me putting the fulling charged camera battery in the charger and leaving the dead one in the camera, we arrived at the arboretum. The downside of course, I had to carry my camera without getting to take any photos what-so-ever.

When I arrived at the pond I frequently visit, I immediately saw swarms of tiny invertebrates or perhaps crustaceans. The sun was shining directly on the pond illuminating the water down to the bottom and…

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