Well, folks, I’ve done the unthinkable. I’ve driven myself away from the Pacific Northwest (PNW) just in time for the glorious yet short season that we call summer.
I am writing 1,700 miles away from my hometown of Redmond, out in rural East Bethel, Minnesota at a plant community ecology internship, where I find myself immersed in three of my least favorite things: high heat, humidity, and swarms of insects. Despite all this, I can’t seem to shake my excitement as I look around at an ecosystem reserve full of both familiar and strange flora and fauna.
I've learned that there's no need to be embarassed about what you say when you're first learning about a new area, and I’m ready to admit some questions and comments I’ve made so far that have made the locals laugh a bit:
- “Is that a Goldfinch? That’s Washington’s state bird, I didn’t know they’re all the way out here!” Check out our beloved American Goldfinch's impressive habitat range; I guess that's why the word "American" is in its name!
- “I heard some animal out at the bog that sounds like it's honking or barking like a dog. I can’t tell if it’s a frog or bird!” After listening to some online frog and bird calls, we discovered it to be an American Green Frog, which is now an introduced species to WA with small populations in a very narrow geographical state range that includes King County.
- “What’s that red-headed bird?! It’s so tall!” It was a Sandhill Crane, which are in WA, but rare in our area. Click here to see what they look like and to hear their interesting call! You’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for these birds, but click the “Find in WA” tab to see when and where the Sandhill Cranes will be around this year.
- “I’ve never had a tick before, what do they look like?” This question was met with gasps of shock for a response! After enjoying the great outdoors, be sure to do tick checks!
While I’m away exploring this beautiful mixed ecosystem of prairie, savannah, and forest, please take advantage of the PNW summer for both you and me! Be sure to enjoy as much of the Puget Sound as you can; watch the gulls as they hover in one place in the wind, go hiking higher up than you did last summer (everything here is flat and flatter!), appreciate that you can walk from your house to your mailbox without getting attacked by a dozen mosquitoes, and have a picnic on the coast while taking in all the smells and sounds of the ocean.
If you see a bird you don’t know the name of, look it up and listen to a recording of its call. I’ll try to learn as many mid-west species as I can to tell you all about them when I come home!
Let Redmond hear from you:
What are your favorite local species to observe and why? What regions have you traveled to, and what similarities and differences did you find in the flora and fauna between there and home? What are your favorite things to do out in nature in the PNW summers?
Be sure to visit Redmond Wild’s website, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter to stay connected to and help protect your local wildlife! Start by joining the free at Luke McRedmond Landing on Saturday, June 23, at 10:30am with Sustainable Redmond and Redmond Wild! Sending lots of love to Redmond from Minnesooota…