Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Dining Eagle on Fishy Yum

I went to the beach today during a sunny lull in the snow. It was brisk but really lovely with a low tide that revealed how the beach was scoured from stormy high tides. Made it to the end of the beach and was hanging out.

Then I heard the crows raising a ruckus, which is always a good sign of some excitement up on the cliff trees.  I was right because a big white head stood out like a blazing sun. It was an amazing adult bald eagle. It got better since he was feasting on a fish.  Oh Yum!!

Eagle giving crows the Look

He was hanging out on a bleached white madrona tree limb. Perfect place to keep watch on the world while he snacked.

How about we get a little closer to our fabulous bald eagle?

Proud owner of a good Fish

Did you see the fish’s backbone? This eagle has been here a while eating some white fish he caught. If the crows had not been hoping for a stolen bite I would have missed him up there on the steep bank.

Let us zero in on his talons. They are nothing to mess with.

Talons holding tight to Fish Bones & Guts

Check out how he works the remnants of the fish to get the last morsels.  At the end you can see how the bones just fall away.  Pretty much all done.

One last shot of this symbol of our country enjoying his catch of the day.

Fishy Yum Dining with Mr. Eagle.
Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Spotted Sandpiper & I Brave the Rain

It was a gloomy day yesterday when I decided to go for a walk in the rain. To the beach at Ocean View I went. This is the place many sunny summer days I have enjoyed. However, I have visited there during inclement weather many times too. Rain is not very photogenic when compared to bright sunny days.  Alas, I was in for a surprise as I got soaked by a rain squall.

Spending some time on the rain and it’s grayness consumed me for a bit.

Rainy Puget Sound looking West at Vashon & Blake Islands

The beach was washed to a fine flat plane with rocks and chunks of cement poking up. The cement is an interesting feature down here. They originated years ago when the bluff above the beach collapsed and brought down someones backyard walls and walkways. The power of water and wind has moved this debris northward. Different times of year the sand covers the chunks but today they are all scrapped clean and exposed.  Mother Nature rules no matter what Man thinks.

Cement chunks migrating north on the beach

Then there is the log jutting out into the surf. This log has moved several times over the years. Today it would be a highlight of my adventure.

Log with surf pounding away

The waves were washing back and forth creating a calm meditative moment. This video will lull you a bit. It will also give you a view of the logs root ball and the tangled driftwood I was climbing around on.

As the wind was blowing and I decided it was time to go find a bit more shelter a small bird flew by. He was close to the waves and landed in the rocky beach. He wasn’t too big, perhaps the size of a sparrow but with long legs and beak. A shorebird I had never seen before. I froze in place and started capturing him on film.

The Sandpiper tilts his head to look above for danger.

Was he looking at me? or a larger predator?  Not sure but I found him super cute. At the time I did not know what his species was. Researching later at home in my dry jammies I found he is a non-breeding Spotted Sandpiper. If he was breeding his breast would be full of spots. Here is what Cornell Labs – All About Birds says about them.

The dapper Spotted Sandpiper makes a great ambassador for the notoriously difficult-to-identify shorebirds. They occur all across North America, they are distinctive in both looks and actions, and they’re handsome. They also have intriguing social lives in which females take the lead and males raise the young. With their richly spotted breeding plumage, teetering gait, stuttering wing beats, and showy courtship dances, this bird is among the most notable and memorable shorebirds in North America.

At first he was walking the shoreline feeding as he went. Then to my delight he jumped onto that log I just mentioned.

Great view of Spotted Sandpiper at Ocean View – So CUTE!!

Check out his feet and  how he is clinging to the log. It gets better!!  I have a video of him walking the log and dancing with the waves.

Then he disappeared over the log. I raced through the logs on the beach to see where he went. He is tough to spot but there he was bobbing and weaving around the rocks.

Sandpiper taking care of business on the stormy beach
Big rocks and surf do not stop this little guy

This shorebird has a behavior that is a key to identifying them.  They bob their little butts up and down as they make their way around. Cornell Labs says this about this little quirk

Its characteristic teetering motion has earned the Spotted Sandpiper many nicknames. Among them are teeter-peep, teeter-bob, jerk or perk bird, teeter-snipe, and tip-tail.

The function of the teetering motion typical of this species has not been determined. Chicks teeter nearly as soon as they hatch from the egg. The teetering gets faster when the bird is nervous, but stops when the bird is alarmed, aggressive, or courting.

Check it out & you will smile all day!

Then he flew back to the other side of the log.  Can you see me jumping and climbing again all soaking wet over the driftwood?  That was me desperate to get more of this wonderful piece of serendipity.

I got lucky and found him for a few more shots.

In the rocks looking for aquatic larvae and small crustaceans.
Just a little bit closer view of his busy ways.

I leave you with a smile on my face as I remember the rain and this little guy that made for a wonderful late fall (felt like winter) day.

Then he just walked away took flight.
Posted in History and other topics

Beach Phenomena

Late November all bundled up for wind and cold weather I trekked down to my local beach. Nature presented a few unusual phenomena that we humans often miss. It was a domed incoming high tide and remnants of summer clinging to past glories.

The tide got my attention because Puget Sound looks like it is a mound of water. You ask what does that mean? One imagines that bodies of water should be flat like a calm lake on a breezeless day. As the tide rushes into the sound from the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Ocean this phenomenon causes the water to bulge.  Check out these photos to see if they help you imagine this.

Puget Sound as high tide rushes in – distant shot

Now we will get a little more zoomed into the water.

Can you see the bulge now?

Those waves are pushing south toward Tacoma & Olympia the towns on the southern end of the sound. This next shot gives you an even closer look.

Now we have waves and a high domed appearance to Puget Sound

As often in photography it is hard to capture something that is more all encompassing instead of a single little shot of the occurrence. Hope you were able to add a bit of imagination and get the special moment.

Next on this same day I encountered two flowering bushes hanging onto summer on this late fall day. They are not winter bloomers like the camellia I found a week or two ago but rather summer wild flowers not giving up to winter yet.

High on the trail was this pink little thing. It looks a bit scraggly clinging to the edge of the trail.

Late Fall bloomer on the Ocean View Beach Trail

This bush even has a few buds holding out to open but I wonder if there is enough time for that?

A little bit closer to pink

Our pink flower child is beginning to look a bit ragged in the above photo. Have to admire her resilience in the cooler weather.

How rugged but delicate I am?

The zoomed in view makes one even more astounded at this late fall flower’s glorious moment.

Pink Flower combats the fall brown, yellow and red theme.

I am going to leave you with the orange California poppy that is in the very top photo of the post. Just like Pinky, he is also holding onto the summer that is now long gone.

Summer of 2019 is not quite ready to go into history
Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Misty Salish Sea Moments

Beach time today was a misty affair. Here I am on the shore of Puget Sound at Ocean View enjoying a bit of fog at high tide. The sound is part of the Salish Sea. This inland sea of North America extends from Strait of Georgia (in Canada) south through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and of course Puget Sound.

We are going to start with a tug pulling a large barge crossing over the path of several Washington State Ferries.  The mist, high tide and the sun starting to peek out all created a double vision reflection. (if you saw my pond reflections this is similar but yet not).

At first I was fascinated by just the tug and barge.  I saw them coming around the point and this series shows them getting closer and closer (really an illusion since I used my telephoto on them).

Misty tug and barge chugging along on Puget Sound
Can you see the tug & barge a little better?

See what I mean by the illusion that the water, mist & sun has created?  It gets better!

Is it a Ghost Tug?
And is this a ghost barge on Puget Sound?

When I thought that was the best illusion it got better. Three Washington State Ferries joined the party of ghost ships in the mist.

Ghost Ferries joined the fun
Cormorant salutes the ferry and barge as they cross
Ghostly vessels on the Salish Sea seem to kiss
Cormorant waves good bye

The ferries were not going to let the barge out do them. They decided they had to do a bonding dance in the mist too. Check out their ghostly moment.

Ferry dance in the mist of the Salish Sea
Illusion or Reality? Dancing or Floating?

Not to be out done the birds were actively fishing. In the dancing ferry photo you can see a small flock of Sea Scoters. They have the goofiest faces but they are serious fishers. They dive in unison and feast on the bounty of the sound.

Sea Scoters – a larger sea duck
Popping back up after a fishing moment

There I was feeding my crows peanuts and this huge flock of ducks flew into our cove. I mean a lot of ducks. They were in silhouette from the sun, so it was tough to see details or color. I tried to figure out what kind they are but just not have enough data.

Ducks at Ocean View in the mist
Ducks mobbing our cove

And a little bit of a video so you can see how many there are. You can also hear the crows giving me hell and a dog on the beach. Hard for our black bird friends to be quiet.

I leave you with a couple final sweet moments in time at the beach on the Salish Sea.

Misty moment on Puget Sound to calm the beast in us.
Scoter and sail boat navigate the fall misty moment.
Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Just another Bird and Beach Day

Down at the beach today it was just like nothing had happened. Life went on the day after the most ferocious thunderstorm Seattle has had in decades.  Actually, as a native I have never seen one like this except in Eastern Washington or the Midwest.

So, I went to the beach to see if any trees were blown over by the deluge with fierce lightning & thunder last night. Besides the trail being swept clean by it turning into a creek it was just another day at the beach.

It is common to see a Blue Heron on the beach.  Today my first sight was a pair on the same beach. When one flew away to the north due to a dog coming along I noticed it was actually three of them. Wonder if one was a baby out for a day with his parents. Did not get a good enough view to know if I am right.

Two Blue Herons on my beach! Score!!

Plus with the herons were gulls and ducks. Just a big old party for everyone. This photo below has the ducks launching themselves into the surf. They take turns doing this like they have a pecking order or at least a plan.

Heron, Gull and Ducks all sharing the beach.

The closest heron took to the sky and decided that landing on a boat would be safer than sticking it out with all the human activity on the beach.

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I continued on down the beach and came across a pair of Song Sparrows. I noticed them because one flushed up into the blackberries. Check out how hard it is to see them since they are camouflaged to blend in with the sand, driftwood and brush.

Can you see the little sparrow?

The clue is he is up behind the drift wood – look to the left of the two white rocks. Nature at her best hiding right in front of us. How about a little closer look next?

Now you can see the Song Sparrow!

He is grubbing around for bugs in the sand. In the next photo you can see his plumage but also how his beak sort of blends in with the background. I think it is because the sand is clinging to it.

Song Sparrow foraging at the beach on Puget Sound

Then there is this unlikely pair further south on the beach. A Blue Heron on a log with a Gull hanging out nearby.  I did not really notice the gull at first or rather rudely disregarded him. Here is the heron first. Look close and you can see him mid log.

Blue Heron just hanging out

Then lets get a closer look. Sad to say my really close up shots were not satisfactory so these two shots are the best we got. I always hope for a eyeball to eyeball type of zoom shot. Not today!

Zoomed in a bit closer now
Close up of the Blue Heron hanging out on the log

How about some buddy time now. The gull seems to be unfazed by the bigger bird. I would think he would be nervous but the heron must not be a threat to the gull or they are just buddies.

Gull just hanging out. Bet he wishes his Heron friend would drop a fish

Next see how close they were to each other.

Heron & Gull just hanging out

The video below not only shows the gull not budging as the heron jumps down but gives you a view of how the beach is not a flat static place. It has a lot of movement with the tide flowing in and of course the birds doing their thing.

I would be remiss in not having some crow fun today. I went over to a raised area on the beach and fed them some peanuts. This adult was more than happy to oblige me with his presence.

Crow contemplating the beauty of the peanut.
Peanut seized!

A baby crow was watching from an upper rail. I wasn’t sure at first that he was a youngster but when he opened his mouth, I knew for sure. Not only was he still using that begging baby crow caw but he had a pink mouth.

Baby or not? Or just molting?
Tis the season for molting but he did give me a cute sideways look. This innocent glance made me wonder on how old he was
There it is … the pink mouth – He is a BABY!

I have to note that the baby crow photos were taken with my new (used) camera. I found a replacement for my pocket size Cannon Elph. The old one I killed it several months ago while driving the Seattle Viaduct the last time. This weekend at one of my estate sale adventures I found it for only 20 bucks!!  That included a 8 GB memory card, the charger and an extra battery.  Score!!

Hope you found this “just another day at the beach” relaxing.

Posted in Crows at the Beach

Crow Pool at a Glance

My current favorite spot on the beach deserves a moment in the lime light. Come with me to discover it’s wonderful beaches.

Fauntleroy Creek comes out into the sand and driftwood of Puget Sound right next to the Ferry Dock for the West Seattle to Vashon Island run. Before it joins the sound it parallels the bigger beach creating the famous crow pool and animal beaches.

It is a popular destination for crow families and a few other species. The crows are the main attraction and usually have a ready team of life guards on duty.

Crow Club watching over the pool

Using my best ability to determine who is who in this gang, I am guessing most are male crows. It is their hang out while the moms feed and try to corral the babies. The girls fly in periodically with the whining little ones in tow to this safe zone the boys are guarding.

Guarding the pool is serious business

Let us now highlight the pool itself. The creek flows along between the logs and actually has three distinct beaches. Check out the lay of the land before we go into each pool.

Fauntleroy Creek creates several beaches and bathing pools

The favored pool is at the top of the picture. It is the most secure area and it is the favored area. The lifeguard crows are always vigilant around this one. Conveniently it has a natural lifeguard shack that an observer can use to watch over the antics.

Pool Crow Guard

Check out this crow going in for a dip at the main pool.

It is not a shadow but rather a crow bather

The main pool is pretty special with a bit of greenery and a sloping beach down to the water.

Closer look the Main Crow Pool
Check out how the sand gently slopes down – easy access for all birds

A few logs and a bit to the north is the middle pool. This is basically an overflow area for when the main beach gets crowded. That can happen when the whole murder want to have a dip or drink. In my counts of this flock I estimate it is around 50 individuals.

Mid pool – not as secure by still has good beach access

Then we have the third beach. This is a bit more north towards the dock and where my viewing area is just at the edge of the dock. The photo below is what it looks like in my spot. It is out of the sun and a bit secretive so the crows will not be bothered by the my observations of them.

My viewing area slightly under the ferry dock. The Crow pool is to the left of this shot.

The last beach I call the Other Species Beach. This was where I found the gimpy duck and other little birds who want a drink. I have noticed quite a few pigeons here too. Like the crows the pigeons feed on all the human food left behind. Plus they have a perfect place to hang out up in the rafters of the dock.

The Other Species Pool/Beach

Hope you learned a little bit more about this lovely place in nature called “the Crow Pool”.

Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Blue Heron Snack Search

This Sunday was a lovely sunny day to go to the beach. One of my favorite places is to the south of the Fauntleroy Ferry Dock. It lends excitement and hub bub as folks wait for the ferry and the loading and unloading each time it lands. Then there is the nature all around the dock. It was a minus 2 foot tide revealing lots of birds and fauna. Off in the distance was a blue heron.

Seems these days or maybe I have just watched the beach so much that every cove has it’s resident heron. This little piece of the beach was true to that.  Check out the little dot off in the distance of this landscape view.

Fauntleroy Cove and Heron fishing in distance

Getting a little closer you can see he is off in the shallows finding goodies.

Blue Heron watching closely for a catch

I finished up my tea and bakery snack I had brought from Fauntleroy Bakery. Then packed up my stuff I had strewn around the log I was lounging on close to the Crow Bath area (they were no shows). Walked down to where the mushy seaweed area started. On the last of the solid sand bar I got my camera out and knelt down to steady my hold.  The water had a lovely color to it and the heron seemed to pose for this shot and his shadow.

Heron with shadow on water

Now a little sidebar. I love google for spelling and word help. Kneeling was my first attempt at the sentence above but it seemed wonky.  Here is what I found:

“Which is Correct Knelled or Knelt?”

In English, knelt is slowly giving way to kneeled. This trend is not limited to this verb; there are a few others that are losing their irregular past tense forms―or gaining an -ed form, at least. … In American and British English, knelt is still the most common of the two.
I went with knelt since it seems to flow better or might even be more acceptable. Back to our heron working the tidal area.

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I know you want to see things live so here are two short videos.  Have to confess I messed up the end of the first one trying to zoom in as he caught the fish/eel/worm.  My camera decided to not obey and blurred the image. That is why I have a second one showing his finishing off his catch.

Not sure what this wiggling thing was so I leave that to your imagination and a parting shot from the heron. He gave us his fluffy butt.

Showing his booty to us brings us to an end

But wait – we are not done yet. Check out this Killdeer camouflaged in the seaweed. Only caught a photo of him because of his cry and flight into the area. Had to keep my eye on him before I got a shot.  Easy to lose him in the background.

Killdeer also looking for a snack.
Posted in Crows at the Beach

Crow Pool Rules

Watching crows for years I have noticed that they have a family hierarchy with rules that all members must adhere to. Think of these like our customs of respect to elders and other rituals we follow to insure our families stay within the box of a smooth operating unit.

On my recent trip I positioned myself to watch where Fauntleroy Creek flows into Puget Sound next to the Washington State Ferry Dock. This piece of the creek with it’s pool has been featured in several of my posts. It is fascinating to watch birds flutter in the water and then jump out to sun their feathers into perfect shape.

This time when I arrived and got situated in the driftwood nearly under the dock, I noticed several larger crows on driftwood around the creek’s beach they prefer. One was up on a curved vertical piece of wood and he was obviously the guardian of the pool. Nearby was another large guy also up high playing the ownership role. In the photo at the top you can see all driftwood that covers the stream as it flows towards us. The bathing hole is closer to where you see that tall upright driftwood with a crow on it. (under the word Rules with a bush backdrop). Shall we get a bit closer so you can see what I mean?

Pool Crow Guards

In this photo look where the sand meets the logs between the two crows positions. There is a little gap in the wood where they walk down to the bird beach and pool. Fresh water is important and so these two are in charge of protecting this from any interloper.

The gang that were around the pool took turns washing up and then sitting in the sun preening their feathers. My vantage did not have the pool in sight this time but watching their family dynamic was very enlightening.

Towel off time after bathing
Crow looks wet and scruffy after his dip at the pool

Time went by and the pool gang hung out like a bunch of teenagers at the beach. I called them the amigos as they roosted on the driftwood on the beach side of the pool area.  Oh and the guard on the hook driftwood directly over the pool was still in position.

Crows hangout at Fauntleroy Creek.
Close up of crow gang

Several crows decided that where the creek’s channel was closer to the sound worked just as good. This was because the guards were keeping non-members from their private pool.

Group of Crows enjoying the fresh water of Fauntleroy Creek

Then a younger bird decided to use the pool. He flew over and started to enter the area. The guard on the beach side got down and herded him away. It was like he was checking him out and saying “Hey, you cannot just enter the pool. You need to ask the guards first.”

After they had their crow chat moment, the guard escorted the other crow to the beach and watched him carefully.

Wow – never saw that kind of interaction but knowing crows it seemed so like them. Family and rules not only drive us humans but so do they instruct crows on how to conduct their lives.

Crow interaction over when and who can use the Pool.

 

Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Day at the beach with the Crows

Lovely day in Seattle down at the Ferry Dock that goes between Vashon Island and Fauntleroy on the Seattle side. On the south side of the dock the Fauntleroy creek meets Puget Sound. Depending on the tide it meanders next or under the giant dock.

Today’s adventure finds crows bathing and some star fish clinging to the pilings.  Lets go take a peek.

This piece of beach has a small crow murder (aka flock) that own all the goodness that falls from the ferry terminal. It is also a great place because of the fresh water the creek provides for drinking and bathing. I have written several posts about them frolicking around the creek and beach.  Here is one on Crow Cleanliness

Today was just as enchanting with them bathing in the flowing creek all together.

The dock draws us all – birds, water creatures and humans
Group of Crows enjoying the fresh water of Fauntleroy Creek

A still photo does not do this justice like a video. I have to note that YouTube did not like my first title which was Murder bathing together. Thought it was clever to use the crow flock word but the sensors did not. Had to rename it before I could publish it publicly.  Kind of reassuring that they are watching after how bad people have used the site for very awful things.

Before I caught the group getting all wet this single crow did his thing all alone.

Private bath time for this crow

The dock had it’s own drama. The pilings hold up all the cars waiting for the ferry. They march down the beach into the water.  Here is an emergency ladder that we doubt has been used in a long time.

Ladder at ferry dock in West Seattle.

The tide was out and several starfish were clinging to the pilings above the water line.

Purple and Orange Starfish cling to ferry dock piling

See what I mean about the pilings marching into the surf? How about a closer look at the starfish?

Starfish locked together

Even closer you can see their roughness and how one has two arms that are more skeleton looking. Not sure what is going on & my quick research did not explain it.

Two Starfish on ferry dock piling

Enjoy your summer by looking for adventure and new things where ever you go.

Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Dock Ducks

Deep under the Fauntleroy Washington State Ferry Dock one can walk when the tide is out enough. There is a murder of crows who frequent this piece of the beach next to the ferry dock and the mouth of the Fauntleroy Creek. In the past I have taken a few photos and video of the crows bathing in the creek before it hits the salt water of Puget Sound.

I love the graphics of under the dock and took this photo quite a bit ago that shows the feel of being under the dock.

This Sunday I walked down to see if the crows were doing their thing at the beach. There were no crows bathing in the creek of hanging out on the beach. They were busy chasing a hawk up on the hill plus some were making babies hatch. There I was under the dock having crow withdrawal and there was this little flock of mallards just chilling there.

This little video is them at the surf edge. It is short but check out the duck at the left. He raises one of his feet as the surf flows up to him. I love running this over and over as he avoids the wetnees.

They did not care that this crazy nature lady was lurking by the dock piling and taking photos with her new cell phone. Oh forgot to tell you I had to get a new phone since I am retiring and my company cell phone needs to go to the big corporate sky. Check out some of my first photos with my new Moto.

There is a lone duck to the left – but don’t we all feel like the lone duck at times.

One more picture for the road. May you have enjoyed the ducks of the dock.

If you want more about the Fauntleroy Dock Crows here it is …  Crows in the creek!