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 Crows at the Beach

Duck Drama at the Dock

Back at the Ferry Dock I went to see what was happening with the crows and the gimpy ducklett. The crows were a bit sedate even though I counted over 40 of them at this great territory they have claimed.

However, the ducks became the excitement for this round of beach time.

It started with my finding a parent duck with 5 fluffy babies. Obviously, not the gimpy duck flock but sure cute as it can get (check out the above photo)

They were just hanging out on the sandy beach to the north of the dock. In the photo below see how one of the babies is standing up.

Ducklings and Washington State Ferry
Duck family just above the surf line.

All seemed golden so I went to check on the Crow Pool. That was when I did my count of how many were hanging out to the south of the dock. Most of the flock was there getting lots of goodies from the negative three foot tide.

Next I went looking for the older duck family to see how the gimpy one was doing.  I crossed back under the dock and saw both families in the low tide seaweed and small tidal pools. Kind of a gooey mess that I avoided by hanging out on the edge where the sand was drier.

Low Tide with little pools and seaweed.

Once I got in the proximity of the families I started watching in my binoculars and snapped a few photos. Here they are close together foraging in the low tide tasty treats.

Two Duck Families of different ages. Little ones at the bottom & older up top.

This is when the drama got going. While I was watching them in my binoculars one of the older duckettes came over and tried to pick up one of the babies. I figured it was all over!! Instead daddy mallard came charging and gave that juvenile duck a good pecking. The baby got sort of tossed unceremoniously into a tidal pool. He scrambled back up and hurried to join his little buddies.

What was with that? Shame on me for thinking that these ducks would all co-exist since there was so much food to be had at this nice low tide.  But no – there was a bully in the older flock and he had to go mess with the babies!

After that happened they moved further out so they were at the true waterline of the sound. Below if you look right below the moored boat you will see the itty bitty ones & then off to the right is the juvenile group. It was interesting that the parents of the babies just went off and left them to their own devices. Survival of the fittest must be those parents motto.

Two flocks on Puget Sound ignoring each other after skirmish
Real little baby ducks on shore
Gimpy Duck family foraging at shore of Puget Sound

Drama was over and the two families continued to go about their business. We can only guess what caused all the meanness from the juvenile to the baby. Perhaps it was not wanting to share or he just had a bad attitude.

I leave you with the cuteness of the little ones after the parents shooed then further away from the bigger ducks.

Babies herded into tide pools and all seem to be A-OK.


Posted in Crows at the Beach

Gimpy Duck at Crow Pool

Gimpy birds seems to find me or do I just find them?  No matter they intrigue me with their tenacity and sheer will to live in a world that is not kind to one leggedness.

While I was hanging out at the Crow Pool this week I noticed a little duck.  I was enjoying some beach time, counting crows in this murder and in general watching them enjoy the pool. Closer to where I sat was a duck who was struggling to get out of the creek’s current. It is a little bit of an incline to climb but most birds just hop right up no problem.

Upon closer inspection I realized this ducklett (yes it was a juvenile duck) had a bad leg.  I mean a really bad leg. It seemed to be either deformed or somehow injured.  It was red and obviously made walking really difficult.

Gimpy Duck at creek

After taking a couple of photos I retreated to my position which is far enough away to not disturb the resident crows nor this little duck. From my spot I could watch the action but not interrupt their behavior.

The crows came over to bath and hang out just like normal. One came over to where the little duck was and she gave a little quack awaking from her sun nap.  However, the crow just skirted her and then walked down the beach to the stream. Then he came back and eyed her. In return she did a little silent quack. They must have known each other and just co-exist there at the pool.

That was Saturday afternoon and being a little worried that I would find her dead or disappeared I came back on Sunday. Up by the creek there was no sign of her except the rumpled sand where she had been laying. No feathers or bodies stuck along the bank either. I was relieved but still worried.

My next step was to go find the resident duck flock that I had seen several times under the dock. Found them hanging out where the creek flowed out to the north of the dock.

Ducks at mouth of Fauntleroy Creek

To my delight there was our gimpy duck. I was sure now she was a teenager. She was surrounded by her family of siblings and parent.

In the surf is easier than on land for this young gimpy duck

While I watched the youngster drug herself up to the adult. She was feeding off the small particles and creatures in the surf and creek water.

Gimpy duck close to parent

This video will give you a good idea of her disability.  What determination to survive!

After all this work our family of ducks including gimpy settled in for a sunny nap at the shoreline. Since gimpy birds are easy to tell from other of thier kind, I will keep checking on her.  Stay tuned on what I find or don’t find.

Time for a nap at the beach