Sunday, October 3, 2010

Nature Jamboree/Harvest Festival highlights, plus 2 more upcoming events!

Our first annual Nature Explorers Jamboree and Harvest Celebration was a huge success!

What a glorious day we had at our celebration of another great year of Jr. Nature Explorers Camps, Family Nature Explorers Programs, and a bountiful harvest from the Magnuson P-Patch and Demonstration Orchard. There was tons of fun for over 600 people!

The garden tours led by Jr. Nature Explorers took parents and children all around the Children's Garden and up into the P-patch, where they picked 12 baskets of fresh vegetables for Lettuce Link to distribute to a local food bank. We also had a "Harvest Parade" through the Amphitheater and sang camp songs on stage with Caspar Babypants!
2 More Family Nature Explorer events left this year!

#1: This year's last "Family Wetland Walk".

Bring the whole family for an adventure in the new Magnuson Park Wetlands! Each tour has a different theme with fun, hands-on exploration activities. Binoculars and field guides will be provided, or you can bring your own.

Tour Leader: Nature Educator Emily Bishton, with special guest Wetlands Gardener Miriam Preus.
Location: The NE 65th St entry to the Magnuson Wetlands, inside the parking lot just east of Sportsfield Drive. Meet in front of the tall mounds at the northeast corner of the parking lot.
Pre-registration requested, but walk-ins are welcome.
  • "Winter Arrivals" Nov 6th from 10:00-11:00am
  • 2011 tours will start up again next April!

#2: Family Nature Explorer "Bird-friendly Holiday"
Make a simple birdhouse and/or a bird-friendly wreath for your door, to create an oasis for songbirds in your own home garden! Take a tour of the Magnuson Community Center Bird-friendly Landscape to see all the plants and features that attract birds there too.

Date and time:Friday evening, December 10th from 5:00-8:30pm
Location: Magnuson Community Center
Fee: $12 per birdhouse or wreath, or $20 to make both!

For more information or to register for any Family Nature Explorers programs, contact the Community Center staff at 206-684-7026 or visit

Here are some of the highlights from this year's Family Nature Explorer programs:

Celebrate Urban Nature Festival on April 10th What an extravaganza! The Community Center was filled with educational booths, games, and family-oriented talks about all kinds of nature: Songbirds, reptiles, marine mammals, and live owls from Woodland Park Zoo. To top it off, Caspar Babypants performed his cool, and funny nature songs in the Auditorium!

Child-friendly Gardening Class on May 1st
Parents and children gathered in the Magnuson Children's Garden for a hand-on class about interesting plants that are easy and safe to grow, tips on making gardening fun for everyone in the family, and how to create fun features that attract butterflies and other beneficial insects!

Family Wetland Walks:
  • Wetland Wake-Up on April 10th We saw Mallards and other year-round resident "dabbling ducks", plus Wigeons, Northern Shovelers, and other winter resident ducks! New leaves, buds, and flowers were opening up all over the wetland plants, and the early bees were buzzing around for a snack!
  • Tadpoles and Nestlings on May 1st We saw Mallards with new ducklings, including one that looked very different from its Mom and Dad! The Swallows have just arrived from South America, Canada Geese were chasing each other, and Lupines were beginning to bloom. The marsh ponds were filled with Tree Frog egg masses, and all sorts of cool insects and their larvae!
  • Spring Migration on June 5th We learned about 5 plants that are the "friends" of the wetlands! We saw ducklings that have grown almost as big as their Mom and Dad, bees having lunch, Swallows swooping and scooping mud for their nests, insects that can swim underwater, and tadpoles growing big with a newly 'spouted' set of back legs!
  • The Growing Season on July 3rd We saw something very unexpected- more brand new tadpoles because the 'rice paddy ponds' were still very full from our super wet spring! Three kinds of Swallows were swooping the sky, Goldfinches and Sparrows were flitting in the tall grass, and we even saw a tiny tree frog peeking out from the bark of a nurse log!
  • Songs of Summer on August 7th We saw 3 Tree Frogs jump out from underneath the bark on our favorite nurse log, now called "the frog log"! We also saw several piles of scat that were full of blackberry seeds, and may have been left by a Coyote. Even though the marsh ponds are drying up from the summer sun, we saw lots of footprints in the mud, and Swallows swooping down to them. They got a drink and a snack of their favorite food: insects! We snacked too, just like the bees do: on nectar-filled Clover blossoms!
  • Fall Migration on September 4th The Swallows are all flying back to their winter homes in South America now, but the wetlands was still full of life! We saw a huge flock of Canada Geese, Goldfinches and Dragonflies darting in and out of the grass, ducklings that are now as big as their parents but still following them around, and a tree frog that still had a little bit of its tail left!
  • Autumn Beauty on October 2nd What a glorious day- before we even set foot in the Wetlands, we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Acorn Woodpecker that has been collecting food from the Oak Trees in the parking lot! This is a rare sight for Seattle, and a big draw for Audubon members all over this area. The marsh ponds are beginning to fill up a bit with the recent rains, and we saw an Eared Grebe diving in the large one closest to the "leaky burrito" bridge, which was a surprise. Mallards, Gadwalls, and other dabbling ducks were having snacktime in the smaller ponds, and White-crowned Sparrows were having a feast on the ripe seeds of the wetland grasses. We heard a Northern Flicker calling from a tall tree in the distance, saw big blue Dragonflies hover above the water, and watched grasshoppers jump and flit from log to log at the edge of the Promontory Ponds. To top it all off, we had a nice visit with a beautiful, golden-brown Tree Frog!
Nighttime Nature Walks:

"Nocturnal Nightlife Walk" on Friday August 20th An expert from the Seattle Audubon Society ( was the guest leader, and took families on an adventure through the Promontory Point forest and Flyway grasslands. They heard the evening songs of birds, saw lots of tall trees where Owls could perch, and several bats swooped past them on their way to the lake!

"New Moon Wetlands Bat Walk" on Friday September 3rd An expert from Bats Northwest ( taught us all some very cool things about Seattle's bats, and bats all over the world. Then as the sky grew darker, we saw the ducks settling in for the night, huge dragonflies taking flight, and tree frogs jumping out of sight...then we got a triple-dip of delight! First, two different species of bats flew right over us as they swooped down into the wetlands to hunt insects- the Little Brown Bat and the Big Brown Bat - then to our surprise a Barn Owl flew in close to us, perched on a tall snag, and swooped back and forth over the tall grass hunting rodents!

"Wetlands Bird Walk" on Friday September 17th An expert from the Seattle Audubon Society was the guest leader, and took families on a walk down the marsh pond paths and outer trails. The wetlands was a lively place even though it was raining, with ducks of all kinds dabbling and diving for an evening meal. The Barn Owls were not out hunting because they rely so much on their incredible hearing ability to locate their prey, and the rain makes a lot of noise!

C&NN Magnuson Community Center is a proud participant in the annual National Environmental Education Week, and hosted several events for school-age children and their families at the Magnuson Community Center Bird-Friendly Landscape and the Children's Garden during that week !

For more info on National Environmental Education Week, visit