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 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 Birds and other fun topics

Blue Heron Fishing Lesson

I finally saw the mysterious Blue Heron of Springbrook creek. This is close to my office and in the nice weather we have gone down there to walk in the afternoon. Along the way I have seen ducks, geese and lots of little birds. Several fellow walkers told me that the heron hung out at one of the bays formed by a feeder creek.

Then when I was least expecting it there he was fishing away.

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Lets get up close & personal with this next shot.

Blue Heron walking up the creek looking for lunch

When I put my binoculars on this guy I noticed what looked like sores or wounds. After closer inspection I think they are just areas that get a lot of wear. The area degrades to a pinker color and perhaps will be molted off when the time comes.

Pink Spots on Blue Heron in Renton

Good news – When he turned around to go the other direction there were the same pink spots on his opposite side. That helped to confirm they were not an injury but more likely from wear and tear.

Saving the best for last – here is a short video of this majestic creature.

Posted in Crows at the Beach

Wading at the Beach

Crows bring their kids to the beach too. The baby crows are getting bigger now and their parents are giving them tough love by turning them loose. I watched these two youngsters wade along the beach. They were picking through the seaweed to find tasty treats. As a human I figured they had to be having fun just like we do as the waves washed over their legs and feet.

Two young crows in the Sound
Two young crows in the Sound

One of them flew off down the way and this one little guy posed for me. He stared out onto the Puget Sound and fluffed himself a little bit. Skinny legs all exposed to the waves and small debris that is floating around.

 

Summer beach fun for crows
Summer beach fun for crows

 

There is nothing like a short video to give you the best perspective of the wave movement and crow behavior.

 

Not only did the crows and gulls love wading in the sound but I captured this Blue Heron getting his feet wet too. This is year round behavior for a heron. They beat out a living catching small fish and other tidbits by standing very quietly and then spearing their dinner.

DSCN0309
Blue Heron wading and looking for lunch

Next time you go to the beach be sure to watch all the waders not just the human ones.

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Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Feather Moment

 

Heron having a feather moment
Heron having a feather moment

This blue heron is balancing on one leg down on the Duwamish River.  These pilings protect boaters from grounding as well as provide a perch for birds.  This heron has a feather stuck in his plumage.  Wonder how long before it got dislodged either by his taking flight or a good puff of wind.

The other post had a gawky immature  double-crested cormorant keeping watch on the bay for a good fish.  In this picture he is giving me the eye.

Young Double-Crested Cormorant
Young Double-Crested Cormorant

These two pilings are part of the four you can see in the picture below.   This also gives you a good idea of how Seattle’s only river is surrounded by industry.   The freeway 599 was so loud it deafened out any other sounds including approaching traffic on the perimeter road I was walking along.  This is such a contrast to the groomed trails and park around the Green River further south.

Duwamish flows surrounded by industy
Duwamish flows surrounded by industry
Posted in Green River Trail, My Duwamish Adventure

Duwamish Adventure Begins

To finish my Green River Trail journey, I went back to the Cecil Moses Memorial Park.  This was the place I started from and went south along the trail.  This time I went North to where I had heard there was an end or is it a beginning of the Green River Trail?

My route was more off trail in that I wanted to follow the river.  Then I would circle around on the formal trail.  Here is what I saw and found.

First I walked behind the US Postal Service Center.  That means I walked along the river bank between chain link fence and blackberries.  I walked quickly by a homeless encampment that was erected inside the brambles. Gladly on the other side of the fence a trucker was walking and we chatted for a few minutes. Having folks see me on the other side of the fence and with mace in hand I moved along.

To my surprise as I moved a little deeper into the brush and trees I found a set of stairs going into a canyon type area.  Did I go there?  Of course I did.

Stairs in the forest
Stairs in the forest

Once I was in the area I call “the moat” I climbed over small branches and debris.  It was fairly easy-going and at one point I got up on the river side bank and looked at the river through the brambles.  For all you worried about the homeless, I never encountered anyone.  Here are a few photos looking back at the stairs and moving to the north.

I finally got to the end of the moat area and climbed out.  There was a bunny there but he ran away faster than my camera skills.  Then I saw the transition

Out of the rabbit hole moat
Out of the rabbit hole moat

Right over a small mound and the brambles was a lawn and groomed trail.  I was now at the southern end of Boeing’s Oxbow parking lot and behind the Oxbow Recreation Center.

As I walked along the river I took photos of the east bank of the river.  It was low tide and it had exposed old pilings, pavement pushed in, drainage pipes of various size, trees and stumps.

Not only do I have the river in pictures but also the bridges and parking lot area.

Oxbow Bridge
Oxbow Bridge
trail goes under Oxbow bridge
trail goes under Oxbow bridge
Underneath Oxbow Bridge
Underneath Oxbow Bridge
Turquoise pipes in storage
Turquoise pipes in storage
Storage area in the Oxbow Parking Lot
Storage area in the Oxbow Parking Lot

The adventure not only found bridges and man’s abuse of the river but also some birds.  I encountered blue herons, a kingfisher, ducks and crows.  Check out the herons and my crow friends next to Hwy 599.  The fence has been ran into by someone here and you can see how far the car came onto the Green River Trail.

Green River Trail between trucks
Green River Trail between trucks & accident site

Then there was the most incrediable boat.  Not sure who it belongs to but it is one sleek baby.  See the city profile behind it.  The Duwamish has so many surprises.

Spectacular Boat and Seattle on Duwamish
Spectacular Boat and Seattle on Duwamish

This view of the boat was from a surprise staircase I found.  That is right, if you walk around and poke into things you find mystery staircases.  That was two of them on this trip.  Wow.

Hidden stairs to marsh
Hidden stairs to marsh

There was a small amount of solid ground when I got to the river bank.  To my right was a forest of grass and the tide had gone out.  I daintily walked around in there and at one point sunk my right boot into the muck.  It looked like black oil on it.  David would be proud of me that I took my boots off in the car and drove home in my stockings.

At last I made it to the beginning of the Green River Trail.  Some might call it the end and it is pretty abrupt. Next journey will be down the perimeter road of Hwy 599 into Southpark. I am now on the Duwamish.  See how much of the river bank I can follow.

Green River Trail ends here (or begins)
Green River Trail ends here (or begins)
Green River Trail - first or last sign
Green River Trail – first or last sign

 

To see more of my Duwamish Adventure I have a directory post that links all of the pieces together.  You can find that post here – My Duwamish Adventure Directory

Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Madrona Heron

At the beach today out of the trees on the bluff flew this Blue Heron.  It was high tide and fishing must have been slow.  He flew right over me.

DSCN6132v2

Then he landed in the madrona forest where I took his photo.   He was just hanging out waiting for the next school of fish at low tide.
DSCN6138

Madrona trees are lovely to look at.   They have this reddish bark that molts in late summer just like the birds do.  See the new greenish bark peeking out from under the peel?  Their old branches can die off and they have a grey twisted gnarled look.  If the heron had not come flying out of another tree, I would never have spotted him.  See how well he blends into the branches of the tree?
DSCN6135

Posted in Green River Trail

Green River flowing in the Kent Valley

Are you ready for some more Green River Trail?

I walked another few miles of the trail a couple of days ago.  I thought this next piece would be rather boring but I was in for lots of surprises including another childhood memory.

I parked just south of the Briscoe Park that I talked about at length in my last Green River Trail post.  http://wp.me/p1d1cX-18U  It is a nice new parking lot built recently along with the flood control barriers that are going up along the trail.  Several years ago the dam upstream was in danger of breaking so everyone put up temporary flood barriers.  The City of Kent is now constructing permanent barriers.

Looking back to Briscoe Park & warehouse land
Looking back to Briscoe Park & warehouse land
Briscoe Park sign way far away
Briscoe Park sign way far away – see the flood barrier on the right
South on Green River Trail from Briscoe Park
South on Green River Trail from Briscoe Park

The river winds through the valley with warehouses where there used to be farms. However, there is a lot of nature alive and well in this river corridor.  See the log in the center of the last picture above?  That is a Blue Heron on the end.  Check out what he looks like with my zoom on him.

Green River home of Blue Heron
Green River home of Blue Heron
Blue Heron on Green River
Blue Heron on Green River

I then neared the newer 200th Street Bridge.  This bridge was built to help the increased truck traffic that all the warehouses have created.  When they did this they cut off some of the old roads that followed on both sides of the river bank.   They are Frager (west side) and Russell (east side) Roads.  They still exist in shorter sections.  When I learned to drive they were unpaved gravel roads that went for miles along the river.  My boyfriend taught me to drive on Frager.  It was get it right or end up in the drink.

Back to the adventure – as I rounded the bend before the bridge, I noticed some snags in the river. One must have been an old growth tree.

The center Snag must have been a huge tree of old

Here is a little montage of the 200th street bridge and an area to the north of it that is being reclaimed.  Canadian Geese were grazing there with their babies.  Yes more nature alongside the development by man.

On the other side of the bridge is a Kent Park called Three Friends Fishing Hole.  It is a very nice little park with a covered picnic area, bathrooms, a ramp to the river and art.  If you stop by there off of 200th you can read about the three guys that the park is in memory of.

On my way back that water fountain was a hit.  I filled my hat full of water and dumped it over my head. Plus filled up my water bottle to stay hydrated on a very hot Seattle day. (for some this wasn’t hot but 85 is more than my little body likes).  Oh and I ate blackberries down by the river here.  It isn’t barely July and some were ripe.  Never seen that before, since they usually are an August or September fruit.

On my left or to the east of the trail was warehouse after warehouse.  At first on the west side of the river it was land that was flattened for more buildings.  Growth in this valley is marching on for sure.  However, I did come upon a small farm still in existence next to the river.

Farm of old in Green River
Farm on Green River
Old Barn with Horse weather vane
Old Barn with Horse weather vane

Moving along to the South I came upon the 212th Street Bridge or what I call the Orillia Road bridge.  This version isn’t too old but it has had a crossing there for a long time.

As a little girl riding my bicycle I would come down Orillia Road to cross the river there. One adventure I turned down Russell Road going back north on the east side of the river. There was a very old house that looked deserted due to the Boeing Kent Center development. The front windows had tattered curtains and old furniture lay in a heap. Reminded me of an old ghost town house.

Being curious about the house I walked around to the back thinking I might find an open door. In that day and age there weren’t any homeless people to speak of and we youngsters roamed freely with no fear.  However, this day I got the fright of my life.  In the window of the back kitchen area were tomatoes ripening.   Yikes, that meant someone still lived in this old house.  I skidattled and pedaled as fast as I could out of there.  Here are some pictures of what is there now.

Old House from my childhood adventure was here
Old House from my childhood adventure was here

Here are a few photos of what is left of Russell Road here to the north of 212th which are behind me in the above picture.

Russell Road used to be where Trail is now.
Russell Road used to be where Trail is now.
remnants of Russell Road south of 212th.
remnants of Russell Road north of 212th.
Russell Road is alive south of 212th.
Russell Road is alive south of 212th.

Under the 212th Bridge I went and found even more treasures.  I actually walked further than I should have because I had to go see a few more things.  This included a tower in the Green River Natural Resources Area and an amphibian highway.   Before I went back north, I filled my water bottle and my hat at the fountain in Anderson Park.  That is a trick I learned riding motorcycles many years ago.  Wet your scarf under your helmet for relief from the heat. So hot that day that my hat was almost dry by the time I got back to Three Friends Fishing Hole Park.

Sweet Peas frame the 212th Bridge over Green river
Sweet Peas frame the 212th Bridge over Green river
212th or Orilla Road Bridge over Green River
212th or Orilla Road Bridge over Green River
Trail looking north under 212th bridge
Trail looking north under 212th bridge

On the way back I saw this little chipmunk.  Very odd to see him here in Western Washington. Usually just squirrels running around this side of the Cascade Mountains.  He reminded me of my pet golden mantle squirrel Charlie.

Chipmunk on Green River Trail
Chipmunk on Green River Trail

Right after I saw the chipmunk I had my eagle moment.  Check out the video of him in this post.

http://wp.me/p1d1cX-19f

It was so hot that once I got back over the 200th street bridge, I diverted to the streets that wind around the warehouses.  They were shaded so it was cooler than up on the hot asphalt trail in the glaring sun.  I leave you with this giant gear on display by Robbins Corp outside their building.

Huge Gear at Robbins Corp in Green River Valley
Huge Gear at Robbins Corp in Green River Valley
Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Ring around the Duwamish

The Duwamish Waterway was created when the river was dredged and straightened out beginning in 1913. 100 years later the area is now an industrial land full of barges, shipping containers, and heavy industry including Boeing, cement plants and metal recyclers. This has placed a toll on the once meandering river. The local native population for 100s of years lived along the river and reaped the bounty of the marshes, tideflats and small islands that were in abundance on the untamed delta.

In 2001 the waterway was placed on a National Superfund Cleanup list. It was found to have become so polluted that eating any bottom feeding fish or seafood was not healthy. A lot of progress has been made but what to do with the toxic mud has been a delima. There has been several project completed to bring back some of the old marsh and tide flat type of environments. This is to improve the return of birds and fish to this once dynamic river delta.

In previous articles I had highlighted one of those reclaimed parks – Herring House. http://wp.me/p1d1cX-AC & http://wp.me/p1d1cX-Es

Today I circled the waterway starting on the south end where the navigable part of the river ends. What makes this park special is I used to live on the river here in the 80s. As time went on the houses which were sandwiched between a freeway and river, became neglected. The city bought them up and reclaimed the land to promote wildlife. A small people bridge was erected to connect trails along the river as it moved into the Green River valley.

Where our house stood is now dug out for the tide to fill. I found a couple of old pictures of the river and the little trailer I lived in steps away from the bank.

My Duwamish home in the 80s
My Duwamish home in the 80s

Today I took a few photos showing how much it has changed.   Never would know man lived here less than 20 years ago.

Next I drove past Herring House Park to T105 (T stands for Terminal) a small access park on the waterway. Salmon Fisherman were on the pier so I walked over to small boat launch. From there I took a few photos of this reclamation project. This includes Blue Heron on the water and one in a fir-tree which I found rather fascinating. I also took an industrial type picture with Mt. Rainier in the distance.

Next I drove over the lower West Seattle Bridge to the East side of the waterway. Here I found the teardown of the old Alaskan Way Viaduct. It is around 60 years old and here is a picture of the old wooden supports to its approach. To think we all drove over this for decades.

Alaskan Way Viaduct removal.  Old timbers under a modern road.
Alaskan Way Viaduct removal. Old timbers under a modern road.

At the Diagonal Waterway access I found a few Canadian Geese and an old Apple tree along the banks. Nature thrives despite man’s pollution and lack of care.

Canadian Geese next to old drainage - Diagonal Access on East side River
Canadian Geese next to old drainage – Diagonal Access on East side River
Apple tree has apples despite being broken down
Apple tree has apples despite being broken down

That is my tour of the Duwamish today. Hope you enjoyed how nature can be found in the most unexpected environments. We think time is going too slow.  See how this shows what can happen to a landscape in 100 years.  Leaves one to wonder of what the next century will deliver.

Posted in Baby Crows, Birds and other fun topics

Blue Heron & Baby Crow share Madrona Forest

Nature revealed both sides of herself this week.  Today I walked to the beach.  On the trail I looked up and saw a Blue Heron hanging out in the Madronas.    Not far from him was a family with two babies.   One baby was crying and demanding his lunch.   Hope you enjoy the photos of life in the woods.

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