It has been awhile since the Babylady and I ventured out for a new park adventure. We’ve gone to the usual playground-parks in the neighborhood when it hasn’t been too wet. But I am really ready for some non-playground action. I am ready to wander the P-Patches. Walk on trails. Run through open grassy fields. Go to parks that aren’t playgrounds in the play structure sort of way.
Last week, after a nearby chiropractor appointment, the Babylady and I hit the Union Bay Natural Area (UBNA). It is located by the University of Washington and Center for Urban Horticulture. We’d been late last summer and loved it and a spring visit did not disappoint!
What is there? The area is 74 acres and includes 4 miles of coastline along Lake Washington. Considered to be one of the best birding locations in Seattle, 200 types of birds have been seen on the site. The park has a variety of habitats in a relatively small area. It has a lake as well as both permanent and seasonal ponds. There are grasslands, prairie, marshes and small forested areas. No wonder there are so many birds!
History (since 1912): It is the site of a former landfill closed in the 1960′s. Prior to the landfill the area was a peat marsh created when Lake Washington was lowered in the early 1900′s and the Montlake Cut opened. This was done to create waterway for larger ships from Lake Washington to the Puget Sound. More detailed timeline here.
Our visit: We went one of the first warm days of the year…in mid-May. It is a fantastic park for kids and adults alike. The main trails are wide enough for a 3-year-old with boundless energy to run and get her willies out. Despite being so close to major shopping areas, the University and major roadways you get a sense of being alone except for thousands of birds calling. There are so many cool things to look at. Ducks! Birds! Geese! Roly-poly bugs! Dandelions! Rocks! Dirt! Flowers!
But wait. Before we go. If you have kids, do they get outside? I don’t mean to the playground. Or backyard. Or a walk through a residential area. I mean out, out. Out in nature. Getting dirty. Exploring. Seeing. Hearing. Smelling. Running. Learning. Expanding. Following paths and trails. If not, do. Do what you can to get out there. It is so important. It is no time clothes that don’t play. This is the time for clothes you can move in and shoes for running, climbing and mud puddle stomping. Make their heart pump and sing.
I started seeing woven nest-like objects made from blackberry canes. Turns out they were the work of UW students in the College of the Environment. Environmental art. Very cool!
Apparently, there is a rookery of herons (a nesting colony) on the University of Washington campus! Who knew? I sure didn’t. But they pop on over for some tasty treats at the UBNA to feed to their squawking hatchlings.
It was a great day and we had a dusty, muddy, sweaty and awe-inspiring time. If you are local do check it out!