Field Journal: Sinking Grebes

There’s something interesting about Pied-billed Grebes. They are very small compared to ducks and with their brown coloring they are easily overlooked in ponds. I tend to pay attention to them however and during my 365 Nature Project I witnessed them doing unusual things. One of those thing I watched again today during a visit to Magnuson Park in Seattle. At the far eastern end of the wetlands I saw a couple pairs of ducks in the pond. The first, a Mallard pair suddenly leaped out of the water in a frenzy of wings and in the swirling…

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Field Journal: Snow in Seattle

It’s not very often we get snow in the city of Seattle, and even less often we get multiple inches. But last night it started snowing and it was still coming down this morning. I measured four and a half inches on our deck rail early this morning. It continued coming down off and on throughout the morning and the trees were covered in snow. All the bare branches had a thick layer of white and a slight tap would bring it crashing down. The neighborhood kids were out immediately and everyone migrated to our park where there’s a…

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Field Journal: Magnuson Park Beavers & Hooded Mergansers

Friday was another sunny day and slightly warmer than it has been and I wanted to take advantage of the weather while my daughter was at school. I decided to visit Magnuson Park and as I walked along the trails I noticed buds on different plants were already large and swollen, some already with green poking out. The low angle of the sun always makes an interesting perspective because while I could stand in the sun and pretend it’s spring, the low rays betray the season. Backlighting is quite beautiful this time of the year as the sun shines…

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Field Journal: Yesler Swamp


Yesterday I took a walk around Yesler Swamp, a newly opened and restored landscape on the north side of Union Bay. It was dramatically different from when I visited in September on Day 265 of my 365 Nature Project. Whereas in September the boardwalk was like walking through a dense, green jungle, today it was barren and brown and I could see through most of the landscape. The sky looked wide open with all the trees and shrubs bare and the brown and muddy ground was exposed. I could hear many birds; robins were…

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Field Journal: Northern Shoveler

Over the last couple of weeks I hadn’t spent as much time at Washington Park Arboretum as I did during my 365 Nature Project, but yesterday promised a sunny day so I decided to walk around while my daughter was at her outdoor preschool. Although it was cold again, the freezing streak had broken and I walked to the pond near Foster Island to see if the ice was gone and the water was open to ducks again. Indeed it was clear again and I spotted a few birds foraging in the water, but mostly on the far west…

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Field Journal: Kleptoparasitism

Today I walked over Foster Island to Union Bay where I expected to see ducks – and see ducks I did, along with coots. There were a hundred coots, if not more, among other waterfowl in the bay near the boardwalk which connects Foster and Marsh Islands. The vast majority of birds were American Coots which were busy diving for aquatic vegetation, but mixed in were a fair number of American Wigeon and a few Gadwall and Ring-necked Ducks. I’ve had a fascination with the dynamics between the coots and other ducks for a few years because they’re a…

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