Wednesday photo of the week: where did the time go?


Thank you to my friend Sammy for this photo!

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BOOK REVIEW: The Northwest Coastal Explorer

Earlier this year, my family visited Oceanside Beach on the Oregon coast. We came across several of these little critters, burrowing down into the sand after a wave recedes.

A new book tells me that they were mole crabs (Emerita analoga), which rest in the sand rear end down and its use their hairy antennae to catch food particles.

And this sea star my son admired, it’s called an ochre sea star (Pisaster ochraceus), a keystone species which can range in color that unfortunately has been suffering from a disease called “sea star wasting syndrome.” If you see an ochre sea star, that’s great; if you a lot of them in one spot, that’s wonderful. When on the rocks in tide pools, they are feeding on mussels, limpets, and other mollusks.

On a more recent trip, this time to the tide pools of Cobble Beach at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, we spotted these little green guys:

Not surprisingly, they are simply called simply green sea anemones (Anthopleura xanthogrammica), which eat small invertebrates and fish that they grab with their tentacles. And this little crab was the highlight of my kids’ time exploring that morning:

It’s a crab – obviously! But this particular one, this new book tells me, is a purple shore crab (Hemigrapsus nudus), which can also vary in color, and has hairless legs and dark spots on its claws. They are quick on their legs to avoid predators such as gulls.

My kids and I absolutely enjoy exploring at the coast. And I’ll definitely slide this new book into my laptop bag on future trips:


Robert Steelquist, The Northwest Coastal Explorer: Your Guide to the Places, Plants, and Animals of the Pacific Coast (Portland, OR: Timber Press, 2016), 284 pp.

Publisher’s description The Pacific Northwest coast is one of the most spectacular corners of the planet. Its magnificent terrain, unique plants, and abundant wildlife make it an explorer’s paradise. Author and local expert Robert Steelquist knows every nook and cranny, and is right by your side, pointing out the natural wonders casual visitors often miss. Organized by habitat, the book profiles easy-to-find plants and animals in each environment, and reveals insider location tips—such as where to find bald eagle habitats and wild stands of carnivorous plants. Weekend trip suggestions target the best of coastal Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. The Northwest Coastal Explorer is a treasury of experiences to delight every seaside adventurer.

But the coast is more than just what you might find exploring in tide pools. Six coastal environments are described, with short entries on the likely flora and fauna you’ll see: Coastal Forests, Rocky Shores and Tide Pools, Sand Beaches, Nearshore, Rivers, and Estuaries. The author’s photographs are included throughout. And a section called Getaways describes seven short trips one can take in the region to see “the best the coast has to offer.” The Northwest Coastal Explorer is a great text and image companion for, well, “the Northwest coastal explorer.”

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Monday thought of the week: the landscapes they inhabit

A thought:

If our children are once again to be members of the landscapes they inhabit, they need to know where the sun sets, and when the berries ripen.

– Rick Van Noy, A Natural Sense of Wonder: Connecting Kids with Nature through the Seasons (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2008), p. 143

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VIDEO: Nature is everywhere — we just need to learn to see it – TED Talks

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VIDEO: This Is Your Brain on Nature – Nat Geo Live

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Wednesday photo of the week: autumn beauty


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Monday thought of the week: the nature of our own selves

A thought:

As we get closer to nature, we find that the subject of our study is not actually nature at all, but life, and the nature of our own selves.

– Joseph Cornell, in Sharing Nature with Children (Nevada City: Dawn Publications, 1979), p. 123 (an updated edition of this book was recently published as Sharing Nature®: Nature Awareness Activities for All Ages).

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Upcoming nature events in Portland

— Please check for any schedule changes or registration requirements —

List of Portland-Area Pumpkin Patches from PDX Parent

Now playing at OMSI’s Empirical Theater in 3D: National Parks Adventure

October is Walktobercalendar of walks all month long

Upcoming paddle events with Tualatin Riverkeepers

Nature classes at Portland area parks from Tinkergarten

Discovery Hikes with the Forest Park Conservancy

Hike series with Friends of the Columbia River Gorge; family-friendly hikes are Oct. 9 (Wahclella Falls Salmon Hike, OR), and Oct. 23 (Elowah Falls and Upper McCord Creek Falls, OR)

Hike series with Oregon Wild

Fall tours at the Hoyt Arboretum

Fall nature programming (pp. 165-170) from THPRD

Fall nature programming from the Friends of Tryon Creek

Fall nature programming at Jackson Bottom Wetlands (Hillsboro)

Fall nature programming at the Tillamook Forest Center (watch for announcements

Free Skills Series from Rewild Portland (every month)

Bird watching outings with Audubon Society of Portland

Bird walks with Backyard Bird Shop





October 8 | Chehalem Ridge sneak peak nature walk and tour at 9am or 11:30am | Metro

October 9| Nature Day in the Park: Raleigh Swim Center/Park | THPRD

October 11 | Nature Night: Oregon, Decidedly Wolf Land | Audubon Society of Portland

October 12 | Introduction to mushroom identification | Metro

October 14-15 | Parke Diem (citywide volunteer event) | Portland Parks Foundation

October 14 | Free Metro parks day (no parking fees) | Metro

October 15 | Guided Nature Walk, 9:30am | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

October 15 | Fall Bird Walk | Columbia Slough Watershed Council

October 16 | Morning or afternoon mushroom discovery hike at Scouters Mountain | Metro

October 22 | Salmon Homecoming at Oxbow Regional Park | Metro

October 22 | Family Nature Fest | Columbia Springs

October 22 | Halloween Night Flight | Audubon Society of Portland

October 23 | Salmon Homecoming at Oxbow Regional Park | Metro

October 29 | Nature through a different lens (at Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area) | Metro

October 30 | 2016 Fall Mushroom Show at the World Forestry Center | Oregon Mycological Society

November 5 | Newt Day (p. 124) | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

November 6 | Morning or afternoon mushroom discovery hike at Mount Talbert | Metro

November 11 | Free Metro parks day (no parking fees) | Metro

November 12 | Nature Day in the Park: Autumn Ridge Park | THPRD

November 13 | Morning or afternoon mushroom discovery hike at Oxbow | Metro

November 16 | Crossroads Lecture: Lake Missoula Flood in Your Backyard | Washington County Museum

November 19 | Guided Nature Walk, 9:30am | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

November 19 | Geology in action: Newell Creek Canyon | Metro

November 19-20 | Wild Arts Festival | Audubon Society of Portland

November 20 | Thanksgiving walk at Oxbow | Metro

November 25 | Free Metro parks day (no parking fees) | Metro

December 3 | Guided Nature Walk, 9:30am | Tualatin Hills Nature Park

December 17 | Winter solstice sunset walk (at Cooper Mountain) | Metro

December 23 | Free Metro parks day (no parking fees) | Metro

Regular nature outings (check websites for seasonal scheduling):
Nature Days in the Park and Nature Mobile from THPRD’s Natural Resources
Honeybee Hikes at Leach Botanical Garden
Story and Strolls and Guided Nature Walks at Tryon Creek State Park
Ladybug Nature Walks with Portland Parks Environmental Education
Puddle Stompers at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
Tadpole Tales with Columbia Slough Watershed Council (beginning May 2)
Farm Fridays at Zenger Farm
Second Saturdays at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver, WA
Guided hikes at Columbia Springs in Vancouver, WA (third Wed. of most months)
Tillamook Tales at the Tillamook Forest Center

Did you know?
– $2 admission at OMSI the first Sunday of every month
– $3 admission at the World Forestry Center the first Thursday of every month
– $4 admission at the Oregon Zoo the second Tuesday of every month
– FREE admission at the Portland Art Museum the first Thursday of every month, 5-8pm
– FREE admission at the Portland Children’s Museum the first Friday of every month, 4-8pm
– FREE admission at the Oregon Historical Society & Museum every day for Multnomah County residents

*My friend Laura posts a monthly listing of kid and family-friendly events of natural, scientific, and cultural interest. October’s list is here.

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BOOK REVIEW: Best Outdoor Adventures Near Portland

NOTE: Sawyer will give a talk about his book at the Canby Public Library on Tuesday, October 11, from 6:30-7:30pm.

Portland’s “Professional Gentleman of Leisure” Adam Sawyer published in 2014 Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon: A Guide to the State’s Best Waterfall Hikes (I’ve used it many times since, and so have our Airbnb guests). He’s been back out exploring around the Portland region for his new guide, also from FalconGuides:


Adam Sawyer, Best Outdoor Adventures Near Portland, Oregon: A Guide to the City’s Greatest Hiking, Paddling, and Cycling (Helena, MT: FalconGuides, 2016), 232 pp.

Most outdoor recreation guide books are devoted to single activities, such as hiking or paddling. This new guide aims to provide lovers of nature information for a variety of activities all in one place. Known for its great trails, waterways, and natural areas, the Portland region is a great place to try different types of recreation. The guide book first covers cycling, separating routes between Road Rides, Bike Paths, and Singletrack Trail Rides. Hiking is next, divided between In Town (such as the 4T Trail and Tryon Creek State Park, our personal favorite) and Out of Town trails (a majority of these being in the Columbia River Gorge).* The paddling section is next, split between Flat Water (mostly in the metro area) and Whitewater (farther out river adventures).

Each adventure includes all the necessary before-you-go/need-to-know information, a detailed description of the ride/hike/paddle, and beautiful color photographs by Sawyer himself (if you’d like a regular dose of beautiful Portland/Oregon nature photos everyday, then like his Facebook page). The sections for cycling and paddling also list some recommended outfitters/guides to get the gear you need and perhaps take a lesson or two if you’re a novice. Pages at the front of the book provide information on safety and first aid, the ten essentials to take with you, trail etiquette, and advice on hiking with kids or dogs. Also, Sawyer summarizes those adventures (and others not included in this book) that provide stunning views.

This book would be a welcome addition to your bookshelf or backpack – or a gift for a family member or friend (the holiday season will soon be upon us, you know). If you’re looking to get off your own two feet and get moving a little faster or experience the city from the water, get a copy of Best Outdoor Adventures Near Portland, Oregon.

*If you’re sole interest in exploring around Portland is by hiking, then you could check out FalconGuides’ new second edition of Best Hikes Near Portland, Oregon (just published this last Spring), which covers hikes in the coast region, around Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens, and in the Gorge; or their pocket-sized guide to hikes in the city, Best Easy Day Hikes Portland, Oregon. Also, if you want to be able to identify animal tracks while you’re out exploring, they have published a second edition of the pocked-sized Scats and Tracks of the Pacific Coast: A Field Guide to the Signs of 70 Wildlife Species.


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Wednesday photo of the week: out on a limb


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