See fish and intertidal creatures from the northern Puget Sound region up close during one of the periodic aquarium tours at the Padilla Bay nature center.
It's free at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Breazeale Interpretive Center, which is part of the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in the coastal Skagit County town of Bay View.
Aquarist Mark Olson said that the center's aquariums are in a bit of a transition phase because they are acquiring new fish for summer. Some species, such as bay pipefish, are more difficult to find in winter.
"We don't have a lot of new critters, but we'll take things out and get the kids' hands wet," Olson said.
"We're going to feed our usual long-term residents - shiner perch and gunnels. We'll examine some of the other critters; see some sea stars up close."
If time and visitor interest allows, there may be a chance to see the behind-the scenes workings of the center's main tank.
It'll also be an opportunity to see how anemones reproduce by dividing.
"We've got one that's kind of tearing into two," he said.
The Breazeale Center is at 10441 Bay View-Edison Road, just north of Bay View State Park. Take Interstate 5 south from Bellingham to the Bow Hill Road exit No. 236. Drive west through the village of Edison and turn right on Bay View-Edison Road just outside town. Keep following Bay View-Edison Road at a three-way intersection as the road turns south toward the center.
Admission is free, but there's a donation box at the door. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed on state holidays. The center has free parking, clean restrooms and a place to have a picnic lunch outside. There's free beach access via a short trail and an inland trail with good birding possibilities.
In addition to its aquariums, the center features natural history exhibits that show the diversity of the bay's fragile ecosystem. A children's area features small chairs and tables and several educational and tactile activities.
For more information, call 360-4238-1558 or go online to padillabay.gov. The website has a wealth of information, including birding maps of the area and many activities for children (look under the link "recreational opportunities" on the home page. Use the birding maps for a driving tour of the area, looking for raptors such as bald eagles and the northern harrier, or for flocks of trumpeter swans and snow geese that mob the Skagit Valley fields in winter.
LEARN ABOUT THRESHING
Skagit Valley farmers Oscar and Nels Lagerlund will present a free video and pictorial history of their annual threshing at shows from 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, at the Burlington Library, 820 E. Washington Ave, Burlington.
Such "threshing bees" illustrate how threshing was done at the turn of the century, said Jo Wolfe of the Skagit County Historical Museum. Their video shows how a thresher separated grain from chaff, with the kernels caught in bags that are sewn tight by hand.
"This is a just a little cinema; the actual threshing is done in summer," Wolfe said, with an event tentatively scheduled for mid-August near the Lagerlund's farm near Interstate 5 and Cook Road, location of the former village of Belleville, one of the Skagit Valley's "lost cities," Wolfe said.
Suggest your ideas for family-friendly events or day trips to Robert Mittendorf at 360-756-2805 or firstname.lastname@example.org.