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Nature Notebook

"The quawmash is now in blume ..."

[This column first ran in April 2003] The season of blue camas is upon us. The delectable lily and icon of Northwest prairies is now in flower and our island scape will soon be lush with…


The rough-hewn path through the forest was strewn with the spent flowers of madrone – tiny, white, urn-shaped orbs that lent lightness to the trail. Near the end of April, the mixed woodland glowed in shades…
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Red Columbine

I did not go looking for columbine. I thought the second week in April was too early for its scarlet blooms, but I found myself on the west side of San Juan Island and, scanning a…
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“Stick to me like a wet shirt.” With those words, Dr. Eugene Kozloff began the first natural history lecture series for the San Juan Nature Institute 21 years ago. Koz, as he is affectionately known by…
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Meeting Mount Grant

The view from the top of Lawson’s Ridge was stunning – or so I had been told. In nearly thirty years of living on San Juan Island I had never ventured to the summit of the…
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Searching for Sulphurs

Mid-September. Migration time. While some islanders were watching the southern movement of birds I was standing knee deep in beach grass along the dunes at Cattle Point looking for butterflies.
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Last week, I watched a Long-billed Dowitcher foraging in the brine of a saltwater lagoon on the island. The appearance of the statuesque shorebird was an indication that mid-summer and fall bird migration had begun.
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The last week of summer I stopped by the San Juan County Land Bank office in Friday Harbor to visit botanist Eliza Habegger. It was Planting Day at their brand new nursery and while I may…
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Restoring Wildflowers

Standing at the turnout to the Westside Preserve recently, I counted the varied shades of gray and bedrock blue in Haro Strait and pondered the ashen sky. A pair of pigeon guillemots whistled their vibrant breeding…
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