I continue to be surprised by the life that abounds in our gem located at the heart of the Emerald City. Yesterday, while walking between/through our sites (WPA -> UBNA -> CUH), I counted no less than 27 Great Blue Herons hunkered down in the cattails seeking shelter from the lion-like March weather. In addition to these easily recognized wading birds, I saw and heard a plethora of others that reminded me of my new year’s resolution to learn more birds.
In the past couple weeks the Arboretum has garnered quite a bit of press for the biodiversity it houses. The focus of our first 15 minutes of fame was an incredibly chubby and somewhat groggy beaver that came strolling up from the Foster Island wetland area and into some shrubs near our entrance gate. If you missed the video footage I caught of “Foster”, you can check it out here. Last time I checked it had gotten 1800 hits on Youtube!
The next 15 minutes came indirectly from Rod Crawford’s discovery of a potentially new species of spider that he found during last spring’s Bioblitz 2010 event held here at the Arboretum. Here’s a link to the PI’s article; and another to the Crosscut article by Knute Berger. And below is a picture of our eight-legged neighbor. I am currently recruiting high school students and anyone else interested in helping us find more specimens for a “hunt” in late April to Early June.
My initial reaction to all this attention directed our way on account of our resident fauna was to wonder when we might get a little attention for the 10,000+ plant specimens that make up our world-renowned collection. We are, after all, the official Arboretum for the state of Washington.
But then I remembered what I often tell kids during our fieldtrip programs: “…when you plant a tree, you’re not just planting a tree, you’re planting an oxygen factory, an erosion preventer, a home for a squirrel or bird or colony of insects, a backrest, a poem, a painting, a friend; you’re planting the foundation of an ecosystem upon which all life depends – including us.” So in that way, any attention given to the furry or creeping critters that call this place home is attention to the trees and plants too – long may they live so that the rest of us may as well.