Walking to be an Urban Naturalist

I like to take walks. I try to fit in a walk every day–and I probably average about five times a week. After lunch at work, I like to take a walk along the Sammamish River Trail. At home I enjoy taking a long loop that takes me over a bridge at Wallace Swamp Creek Park.

For a while my office was in downtown Bellevue and that walk was quite different from a River Trail. It was fun though to walk from the Bravern across the urban streets down past the Bellevue Regional Library. It was fun watching the urban landscape change, find great restaurants and watch the highrises and condos go up. I know Bellevue has a lot of detractors, but I love this local little upscale city. If I could afford it, I would love to live there. I even came up with a slogan for the clean city, “Urban Without the Urine.” On my walks I would watch the local fashionistas as they shopped at the Bravern or at Bellevue Square in their long boots and fancy raincoats.

My daily work walk is quite different now, but just as if not more enjoyable and has turned me into an urban naturalist. Even though I’m in a suburban setting near Redmond Town Center the trail is a little oasis of wetlands and wildlife. So far I have seen a number of Great Blue Herons, ducks, a coyote, a snake, a field mouse and once I watched a weasel chase a squirrel across the trail! Here is a link to an article about the wildlife with photos from the Kirkland Patch. My favorites are the Great Blue Herons. I watched one yesterday standing in the middle of the river on a submerged log with his wings stretched out. I have no idea what he was up to–but he appeared to be having a good time. Herons always make me think of my friend Kathleen and her beautiful photos of Herons.

Of urban naturalists, I’m reading a book write now by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. She is a local West Seattle writer and I was intrigued by the title of the book when I picked it up in a local library. The book is called Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness. I am fascinated with crows. We have a huge murder of crows nesting in the Bothell area at UW Bothell campus. Here’s is a video someone took of the sky around here at dusk. And an article by the Bothell-Kenmore reporter about the flock. I’m keeping an eye on the local crows and will perhaps see if I can spot some individuals.

I’m enjoying Haupt’s book which is not just about crows, but also about being a naturalist in your own urban backyard and also about walking. Here are some tips from Haupt’s book on being an urban naturalist:

  • Study the local field guides so you know what you are seeing
  • Name things-find out the names of what you see on your journey
  • Practice and have patience
  • Respect the wildness of animals
  • Cultivate an obsession
  • Carry a notebook
  • Mind the gadetry
  • Maintain a field trip mentality
  • Make time for solitude
  • Stand in lineage, with a sense of purpose

Where do you like to walk? What have you seen that was memorable?

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