Field Journal: First Day of Spring

The weather forecast promised another dry day, our second in a row, for the first day of spring. With more rain coming until at least Thursday, I decided to make the most of the dry and hopefully sunny morning and spend the first day of spring at Magnuson Park. It was still quite chilly, only in the 40’s when I arrived in the morning, but the sun was shining through a thin layer of clouds. Immediately, signs of spring presented themselves with the blooming Red-flowering Currant just inside the entrance to the wetlands. In all my visits to Magnuson Park…

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Field Journal: Dog Whelks at Alki

For my daughter’s fifth birthday she decided she wanted to visit Alki Beach to look for shore life. We checked the tides and decided to go there at lunch time and head down to the beach as the tide ebbed away after we ate. The tide was high still, barely any beach was visible, but we wanted to get out before the rains arrived. Fortunately, even during the high tide there’s still plenty to see and we started wandering along the beach. I spotted a large number of Brant Geese in the water, probably somewhere between 30-40 up and…

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Field Journal: Late Winter at Alki Beach

Despite being a certified pluviophile, this long, gray winter (and autumn for that matter) has been starting to get old. Seattle has been a city in monochrome for months and while I’ve found many noteworthy things this winter, I’m starting to hope for a bit of sun and color. But as a true northwesterner, I never let the weather stop me from heading outside and yesterday I packed my bag and headed for Alki Beach with the low tide. Naturally, as soon as I started out, the rain began. At least it wasn’t a downpour like we’ve seen so…

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Field Journal: Shore Life at Lincoln Park

Earlier this week we visited Lincoln Park in West Seattle. The park lies along the western edge of the city overlooking Vashon Island and the Puget Sound. Part of the park is a bluff full of Pacific Madrone trees with paths down to the beach. We opted to head straight down to the beach where my daughter could wander along the rocky shore. I surveyed the water and we spotted Surf Scoters, a couple species of grebes, Harlequin Ducks, loons, Buffleheads, goldeneyes and gulls. We heard a Bald Eagle chattering but didn’t see it.

The high tide line was full of…

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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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