Archive for November, 2011

Second Nature: Tales from the Montlake Fill, Book Reading and Signing

Sunday, December 11, 2:00-3:00 p.m.

Douglas Classroom, Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 N.E. 41st Street, Seattle

Friends of Yesler Swamp invites you on Sunday, December 11 at 2:00 p.m. for a book reading and signing by local nature writer Connie Sidles. In Second Nature: Tales from the Montlake Fill, Connie reveals the natural area’s secrets and shares insights on coping with the stresses of modern life. Refreshments will be served.

Connie Sidles, whom KUOW called the “Queen of the Montlake Fill” in a May 2009 interview, will present a book reading and signing of Second Nature, her second book on the birds of the Union Bay Natural Area, on Sunday, December 11, 2:00-3:00 p.m. at the Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 N.E. 41st Street, Seattle. The program is sponsored by Friends of Yesler Swamp and UW Botanic Gardens, and is free and open to the public, parking is also free.

Many birdwatchers consider the 75-acre Union Bay Natural Area (aka Montlake Fill) one of the best bird watching sites in Seattle. For more than 40 years, a garbage dump, the former landfill on what was commonly called Garbage Bay now has ponds, meadows and woodland areas that attract over 250 species of birds.

Connie has been coming here almost every morning for more than 20 years. She is a master birder and a board member of the Seattle Audubon Society. As she did in her first book, In My Nature, A Birder’s Year at the Montlake Fill, in Second Nature Sidles reveals fascinating secrets of this natural area in the heart of the city and shares her insights about life. By turns funny and serious, Sidles says her goal is to open windows into wild nature and human nature.

The photo above shows a local Red-tailed hawk perched in the tall cottonwoods at the north end of Yesler Swamp. From there, she can survey all her territory as far as the UW Boathouses. According to Connie, who is well acquainted with the denizens of the swamp, “She is a fierce hunter, afraid of nothing. I once saw her capture a nutria as big as an over-inflated football.”

Connie is a Master Birder, a member of the Audubon Society Board,  and a member of Friends of Yesler Swamp steering committee.


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Getting Ready for Winter, the next Yesler Swamp Nature Walk, will take place Sunday, November 13, 2011, from 1:00 – 2:00. The Nature Walk will be led by Patrick Fallon, a graduate of the two-year Anake Program at the Wilderness Awareness School, and a popular teacher at WAS youth programs.

On the walk, Pat will explore the wide range of survival strategies local flora and fauna use to get through the winter, take a close look at life under fallen logs and teach how to find and identify animal tracks along the trail.

Bird watchers and nature lovers of all ages are invited. Bring along binoculars!

Photo by Patrick Fallon

Patrick wrote last week:

“I have been to the swamp thrice this week. The first I missed the mushroom walk but got to hang with the Barred Owl. The second time, I went back with a seven-year old friend to look for the owl and instead got to watch a Cooper’s Hawk eat a bird from 15 feet away. And then a mink swam up to us out at the water! Went back the next day with her four-year-old brother and got to hang with the owl again up close! Such a magical piece of Seattle down there!”

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“Focus On Fungus” A Success!

More than 25 mushroom fans showed up on Sunday, October 23, for “Focus on Fungus,” the monthly Nature Walk sponsored by Friends of Yesler Swamp. UW Professor of Mycology Joe Ammirati identified many of the fungus growing in Yesler Swamp. Even though he noted that this was not a great year for mushrooms, Joe found plenty along the trail to show and explain to the group.  Among the mushrooms Joe identified were Xylaria hyposylon, Phellinus igniarius (used for tinder), and Bobiltius vitellinus. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and educational tour!

Xylaria hyposylon - Photo by Art Feinglass

Phellinus igniarius - Photo by Lewis Johnson

Bobiltius vitellinus - Photo by Art Feinglass

Some of the nature walkers were also lucky enough to spot a rare Barred Owl, the first one ever seen at UBNA (Union Bay Natural Area), where records go back to 1895. Bird expert Connie Sidles described the Barred Owl like this: “Oh, such a beautiful creature, all striped in the front like a zebra, black-and-white, with two lumps of coal for eyes.” Connie summed it up: “Wowza!”

The next Yesler Swamp Nature Walk will take place on Sunday, November 13, 2011.  The topic will be “Getting Ready for Winter”; the walk will be led by Patrick Falon.

Barred Owl - Photo by Lewis E. Johnson

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