An Interview with Naturalist/Author/Inspiration Robert Michael Pyle

by Bianca Perla on January 9, 2013 4 Comments

WRITTEN BY: Kathryn True

Vashon-Maury Island Audubon Society is hosting a talk and book signing with the inimitable naturalist and nature writer Robert Michael Pyle next Thursday, Jan. 17 at 7 pm at the Land Trust building. It’s hard to know where to start when introducing Bob—his talents are varied and many. He is a master lepidopterist who wrote the essential guide, The Butterflies of Cascadia. He is the award-winning author of 16 books including Wintergreen, an eloquent tribute to his southwest Washington homeland. He is a storyteller whose wit and insights bring the audience into a small circle of warmth when he speaks. Perhaps above all, he is an open-hearted soul who invites all he meets to join him in the sacred camaraderie shared by those who love the wild.

His new book, The Tangled Bank, is a collection of essays that originally appeared in Bob’s ...

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Paying attention to subtle changes in nature

by Bianca Perla on November 29, 2012 1 Comment

The following piece was published as a guest editorial on the environment in the November 28th Beachcomber issue. It discusses the subtlety of environmental change and why the Vashon Maury Island Groundwater Protection Committee's newly released environmental report card is helpful in detecting hard to see changes in our water resources. 

To see the environmental report card click here

Learn more about the Island Stream Invertebrate Survey  (ISIS)

Written by: Bianca Perla         

Photo below is from Vashon Nature Center LLC's  Neill Point Bioblitz. photo credit: Ed Otto                           

We flipped over a rock on the beach. Nothing. What about this one? Nope. Would we find one under this? Finally, a tiny green crab! We looked at him for a bit marveling at his little pincers flailing helplessly in the air. Then: “Mama! Let’s look for beach glass!” And we were off.

But I couldn’t shake what I ...

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Join us in these fun fall activities

by Bianca Perla on September 13, 2012 2 Comments


Fall is on the horizon and with it come many opportunities to learn more about island wildlife and ecosystems. You can help us discover more about the mysteries of island nature by joining one of these volunteer science projects or programs. These events and projects are also a great way to meet some amazingly cool folks and become a part of the Vashon naturalist community.
If you are interested in any of the following opportunities email us at: for more information. 
  • Salmonwatchers are needed to watch our creeks from October 1st-December 31st. 
  • Land Trust Intro tours: learn more about conservation and restoration efforts by joining Vashon Nature Center Director and Vashon Maury Land Trust Board Member Bianca Perla at the Land Trust intro tour of Singer Farm on Saturday September 15th.
  • Cruise! The Ocean Inquiry project is offering a 1-day cruise on ...
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Butterfly watching!!!!

by Bianca Perla on July 5, 2012 0 Comments



This Saturday, July 7, join the Vashon portion of the 2012 Annual North American Butterfly Association Butterfly Count!  
Meet at 10 am in the Park'n'Ride by Country Store.  If the day is sunny from the start, we should be able to find butterflies already on the wing, so please be there by 10, and we'll head for the pond area by 10:10 after people have had a chance to sign in. NABA asks for $3 per counter as a donation to help cover costs.  If you want to receive a count report giving nation-wide results (and several provinces of Canada and mexico) that's an additional $7. Rayna Holtz will email out results for Vashon, and bring copies of our Vashon Counts from 1996 to 2011 on the count day.
Remember to bring a sack lunch, sun protection, beverage, sturdy comfortable ...
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Vashon 101 course

by Bianca Perla on March 12, 2012 0 Comments


Vashon College hosts Vashon 101 starting Tuesday March 13th

After a couple year break, Vashon College has resumed its signature course again this year. It's title is Vashon 101:  A journey just begun. It features 6 seminar style evening courses that cover the geology, ecology, history, culture, social sciences, and demographics of the islands. Past versions of this course have been very popular.  It is taught by an all island faculty of experts in each of the above-mentioned fields. 

For more information visit the Vashon College website:

or contact Pamn Aspiri: 206-408-8022

Naturalist highlight of the week archive: Tree Sale

by Bianca Perla on January 31, 2012 0 Comments


Vashon Maury Island Land Trust Tree Sale February 4th

The Land Trust is holding a native tree and shrub sale on Saturday February 4th at the Land Trust Building (10014 SW Bank Road) from 10 am-2pm. People who have pre-ordered trees and shrubs through the mail or website can pick them up on Saturday. There are also some trees and shrubs for walk-in sales.  This annual event is a fundraiser for the Land Trust as well as a chance for all of us to add native plants to our home landscape and improve island habitats. 

The Land Trust is looking for help bundling tree orders at the Fisher Pond warehouse for the whole week January 30-February 3 in preparation for the sale. This is a fun opportunity to handle some plants, learn some native planting techniques, and make some friends. If you would like to help contact Beth at the ...

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Slater Museum of Natural History

by Bianca Perla on January 31, 2012 0 Comments

Naturalist highlight of the week archive:  January 9


The Slater Museum of Natural History: a great resource in Vashon's backyard

The Slater Museum of Natural History (part of the University of Puget Sound campus) is located in Tacoma, an easy bus ride (#11) from the Pt. Defiance ferry terminal.  This museum has collections of species from all over the world with a special emphasis on Puget Sound. While there are no interpretive exhibits currently, construction on interpretive exhibits will begin this summer (2012). 

Currently the museum website has plenty of interesting pages for looking up animals and plants found on Vashon.  The museum has put together a naturalist curriculum for 4th and 5th grade, as well as a biodiversity page. They also have many educational videos on nature in the Puget Sound. 

Vashon's own Gary Shugart is Collections manager at the museum. If you find dead birds/mammals ...

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Dec. 31 Island Christmas Bird Count: Become a Citizen Scientist

by Bianca Perla on December 28, 2011 0 Comments

written by: Kathryn True

Whether you’re an avid birder or a beginner who’d like to learn more about birds, it’s not too late to sign up for the Christmas Bird Count (CBC), an annual tradition shared by birders across the continent. Join expert island birders in raising their binoculars to scour the beaches and forests of Vashon and Maury to record every bird they can see (and hear) in a 24-hour period. The resulting species tallies provide essential data used by the National Audubon Society to help protect bird species and their habitat.

A killdeer and a Western Snipe seen on previous CBC counts on Vashon. photo by: Richard Rogers.

How to participate

Here’s your official invitation from the Vashon-Maury Island Audubon Society:

The Vashon Christmas Bird Count is coming up Saturday December 31 and you can participate in two ways: 

 1. Count birds on your ...

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Island Birding Program Receives National Kudos

by Bianca Perla on December 6, 2011 0 Comments



The Vashon-Maury Island Audubon Society’s fourth grade birding program has taught birding basics to thousands of children over the past 20 years. Through Vashon Artists in the Schools, Chautauqua teacher Jan Smith started integrating art into her bird lesson plans several years ago with the help of artist Rose Belknap.

Artwork from a student in Vashon's artful 4th grade birding program

 This multidisciplinary approach—and the engaging student art that resulted—caught the attention of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a renowned bird research center. In November, the curriculum was featured as a model program on their Celebrate Urban Birds website.


You can learn more about the birding program’s history in this Beachcomber article.


If you’d like to get involved, contact current bird program leader Richard Rogers through the Audubon website. And if you’re ...

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book signing Friday night!

by Bianca Perla on December 1, 2011 0 Comments




This Friday December 2nd come join us from 5-7 pm at the Land Trust building. 

Author Bianca Perla will be there to sign books and discuss questions/feedback you have about the book.

Books for sale or bring your own copy.


 Drop by whenever you like. There is no talk. There will be interpretive tables set up with a bird and mammal collection, an island shell collection, and photos of Vashon's beautiful butterflies with naturalists on hand. 

Hope to see you there!

Tidal Creatures of the night

by Bianca Perla on November 23, 2011 0 Comments



Creatures of the Night

This Friday, Nov. 25 at 10:45 p.m., the new-moon tide will ebb to a rare low of -3.4 feet. Taking this opportunity to explore an island community normally hidden from view, the Vashon Beach Naturalists will host a free Starlight Low-Tide Walk at the north-end ferry dock from 9-11 p.m. Sip a hot chocolate as you head to the beach with a naturalist guide to discover dozens of denizens of the intertidal zone: nudibranchs (sea slugs), sea cucumbers, and sea pens to name a few.

A shaggy mouse nudibranch (Aoelidia papillosa). Photo taken near Pt. Vashon by Kathryn True

Besides the fact that our local winter low tides occur only at night, this is a good time to get out for several reasons. At low tide on a hot summer day, animals that prefer cold, wet, and dark ...

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naturalist highlight of the week November 13th 2011

by Bianca Perla on November 17, 2011 1 Comment


Movie on Vashon: Fundraiser for Vashon Hydrophone Project and Wolftown

Sunday, November 13, 1:00 PM at the Vashon Theatre, First Nations whale conservationists Orca Annie Stateler and Odin Lonning of the Vashon Hydrophone Project (VHP) host a special screening of “The Whale.”
This highly acclaimed film tells the compelling story of Luna/Tsux’iit (L98), a young Southern Resident orca who was separated from his pod. In 2003, Odin and Orca Annie traveled to Nootka Sound, where they met Luna and many of the people who appear in the movie. They will do a brief introduction, and after the movie, hold a Q & A session. Don’t miss this opportunity – you won’t find anyone else on Vashon who knows more about Tsu’xiit/Luna and his extended Southern Resident killer whale family than your VHP hosts do!
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Audubon monthly birding trips

by Bianca Perla on November 12, 2011 0 Comments


Audubon birding field trip Saturday November, 12th

Learn about waterbirds on Vashon from birding expert Gary Shugart.

Meet at the Ober Park, Park and Ride at 9 am. Tour lasts until 11 am. All experience levels welcome to join the fun.

Waterbirds are great for the beginning birder because they stay in one place, are large, and are clearly seen. This is always an exceptional birding field trip. Don't miss it!

These birding trips are held on the second Saturday of every month. For more info:

The enjoyment of birds educational series

by Bianca Perla on November 8, 2011 0 Comments


The Enjoyment of Birds Educational Series 2011-2012

Vashon Audubon Society is offering an updated series of 5 different programs to help you enjoy the birds, inside and outside, through fall, winter, and spring. 

These are terrific classes taught by very knowledgeable and personable islanders and are held in the Land Trust building from 7-9pm. It is well worth signing up.

More information about this series

More information about other local Audubon events

Naturalist highlight of the week archive

by Bianca Perla on October 5, 2011 0 Comments


Every week (or more realistically, when time allows) Vashon Nature Center, LLC posts a Naturalist Highlight of the Week on the Community page of the website.

These highlights share information about local naturalists or programs that offer educational opportunities to community members about island wildlife, plants and ecosystems.

When the highlights are changed I will post the old highlights in this section of the blog so that the information about these great people and programs can continue to be accessed.

Below are the 3 Naturalist Highlights of the “week” that have been posted since this website was created in July (obviously weeks are in island time!) :


Have you ever wanted to know more about all the life you see as you walk Vashon’s beaches? Check out this great set of educational videos about life in our ...

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