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 water a tiny grebe head appeared. I’ve seen them harass waterfowl before, as though they were a shark harrying the larger birds from beneath. However, what I found very interesting was their method of going underwater during these shark attacks. 

When grebes are fishing they dive down beak first with a…

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365 Nature – Day 292

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


Mid October, a cool day with clouds and sun changing places every half hour, it feels like the quintessential autumn day. As I walked through the wetland part of the arboretum this morning I spotted clusters of mushrooms standing in the fallen leaves and trees full of color, despite the recent windstorms. In duck pond, a carousel of Wood Ducks went round and round, males chasing each other in an infinite circle. I saw only one female, but a dozen or more male Wood Ducks.

Late yesterday afternoon I went through a container of pond life I’d scooped up earlier in the day. I had caught damselfly larvae, one so tiny as to nearly fit on the head of a larger one. They change dramatically in size as they grow….

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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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Pritchard Wetlands – A Pictorial Essay

This was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

A little known park in Seattle, Pritchard Wetlands is a treasure trove of Pacific Northwest native plants and wildlife. It may sound familiar, I included it in my recent post 5 Great Parks:: Seattle Edition. Situated along Lake Washington, the wetlands area of the park was historically part of the lake and underwater until the construction of the Ballard Locks in 1917. After the construction, the water level fell about nine feet and the area which is now wetlands was then above the water level. However, it wasn’t until the 1990’s that a renovation of the site turned it into the wetlands we have today.

Since moving to the neighborhood last fall, we’ve walked and watched the wetlands on a daily basis and I have taken photos through all the seasons so far of the…

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5 Favorite London Photos of 2014

Earlier this year we took a trip to London. It was the second time we’ve visited the city only this time we had a toddler with us which made it a whole different experience. We visited a lot of parks and urban nature which I have unfortunately yet to write about. Here is a highlight of some of the things we saw in London with more thorough posts to come early next year.

The London Wetland Centre

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Last time we visited London we didn’t have time to visit the Wetland Centre, so this time it was on the top of my list of things to see. It certainly didn’t disappoint. It’s a beautiful park with ponds, canals, mud flats and woods. There’s plenty of educational material about water birds, wetlands and even some otters while the wild sections are full of native birds,…

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The Experience of 10,000 Crows

Every night from fall to spring, upwards of 10,000 crows fly from downtown Seattle and other surrounding areas to the University of Washington’s Bothell campus, located on the far north end of Lake Washington. They are here for their nightly roost, where all 10,000 of them, cawing and making a ruckus impossible to miss, gather together before descending into the wetland trees. There are several other crow roosts around the Puget Sound area, but none as large or magnificent as the Bothell roost.

Along with the University of Washington, Cascade Community College shares this campus and hosted a crow evening this past fall which included Audubon representatives on hand with bird information, crow hats for the kids, cider for all and a talk by crow expert Kaeli Swift.

I confess I’m a bit crow mad, as long-time readers may have gathered from past posts, Emerald City…

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