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Just a meandering soul sharing my backyard. Visit my Flickr page too! www.flickr.com/photos/meanderingwa/

Friday, August 21, 2009

Books Books Books

...Because it would not be fun if you could not shop or collect things.

One disadvantage, if you could look upon it as such, of being a worker at the Seattle Audubon is ready access to their focused book store and library. You could review and peruse books in the name of "research" and over time I certainly purchased and recycled my share. Some books are must haves for a Washington Nature Nut, others are simply fun to have.

For birding there will always be arguments but most feel that Sibleys Guide to Birds is the new and definitive resource. Since it was originally published, there have been two new volumes, Eastern Birds and Western Birds. For the new birder, a copy of Western Birds will eliminate some of the out of range birds and help make learning our regions birds easier. I learned with a Roger Tory Peterson Western Birds. Back at that time, the Peterson guide was great because they were small enough to fit into a jeans or hip pack pocket and were good , solid and basic. Since then they have been republished in a slightly larger format. Peterson invented the field guide as we know it and many feel his original descriptions and notes are hard to improve upon.

There are many Peterson guides for other nature subjects, such as flowers insects butterflies. You can often find them in used book stores, sometimes in new , unused condition.

I personally have Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Pojar et al and Plants of the Southern Interior British Columbia and the Inland Northwest Parish et al. Both of these books , published in Canada, contain some minor differences in common names/ taxonomy but are extensive and complete in themselves.

Insects of the Pacific Northwest, Haggard is a good basic intro to the vast bug ecology.

Natural History of Puget Sound Country by Art Kruckeberg is a wonderful book and filled with a good solid review of the whole ecology of the Puget Basin from sea to mountain. It might be tricky to find but it is a beautifully written book by a very respected member of the natural history community.

Cascade Olympic Natural History by Mathews is one of my favorite books. If you are only going to buy one book and you want it to serve all your basic needs , this is a great one to have. It covers all of the basic plants and animals talks about geology weather and even some cultural history and lore. There is a lot of information between the covers and it is designed to be the one book you might take on an extended camping trip. It will not help you solve a tricky sparrow id but it will help make the environment come alive.

For a rambler, a Washington Atlas and Gazetteer published by Delorme ( often people just refer to it as A Delorme) is a must have. Excellent detailed topo maps of the whole state. The Washington Delorme is 120 pages. This will get you to where you need to go, once there I prefer the Green Trail Maps for hiking. They are essential if you are hiking anywhere in the state or national forests. Never rely on trail markers to be in place when you need them.

One book I have found to be great at getting me out and going is Best Wildflower Hikes Washington by Art Kruckeberg and Karen Sykes. They let you know where to go when and have excellent suggestions on how to plan your trip and what you can expect to see. You definitely need to have your Green Trail map and your Delorme to help make sure you get to your destinations safely. There are many hiking and trail books available via The Mountaineers. I find none of the hiking books reliable for actual trail description and getting comfortable at reading a map is a vital skill for hiking not just in more remote areas but everywhere.

Fire, Faults and Floods by Marge and Ted Mueller is a road and trail guide that explains the geology and origin of the Columbia River Basin. It explains how the landscape was shaped over time and forever changed by the "Bretz Floods" They have road trips to take you to see the unique features that define the basin. You will never look at rocks and cliffs the same way after reading this book.

There are some excellent on line resources too. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology http://www.birds.cornell.edu/ a wonderful website all about birds and bird watching. They have extensive information on learning to bird and how to bring birds to your yard

http://www.enature.com/ a great , on line resource of many different field guides. It has an excellent filter feature for your region or zip code and can help make basic identifications.

The Burke Museum Herbarium http://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection.phpburke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection.php a useful tool when trying to figure out the plants of Washington. They too have a helpful filtering feature that can refine searches for rare and difficult plants.

One of my most useful tools is my camera. I find that my memory for detail cannot match the ability of my camera. Plus my near vision is a bit poor and not wanting to use eye glasses in the field my camera allows me to view plants and flowers at home and appreciate and learn their details. A magnifying glass (currently out on loan) is a helpful thing to have in the pack. In a pinch, looking thru binoculars "backward" can gain you some details. A little notepad can replace a camera but for me, the camera is bringing a whole new dimention to my rambling. For those pesky identification problems Flickr.com has been a great resource, particularly their "Washington Wildflower", "ID Please" ( for general unknowns) and "Bird Identification Help" groups. You can post your photos and gain access to many knowledgable eyes.

Or if you finger through your books enough you will stumble upon an id. I puzzled over this plant for the last week and this morning, while waiting for a particularly slow issue on my antique computer to resolve, I stumbled upon the identification of these red seed pods I found last Friday in Esmeralda Basin.

Sticky Asphodel Tofildia glutinosa I am looking forward to visiting these bog meadows early in the season next year to see these bog specialties in full bloom

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