Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Kingfisher and the Dock

Down at the Fauntleroy to Vashon Island Ferry Dock one expects to see birds like ducks, cormorants and seagulls with a flock of crows for good measure. However, never in my wildest dreams would one expect a Kingfisher. At least that is my view since the Kingfishers I have seen are usually in wilder more park like settings. Not a busy dock with a big boat  landing and sailing regularly.

Here I was on the beach watching the birds on the water and noticed a black duck like bird fly low on the water towards the dock. He seemed to go under or land where the dock’s offices and waiting room hangs off to the side.  In the photo above that is the building with a blue roof.

To my surprise when I put my binoculars on that area I saw the Kingfisher just hanging out. I doubted myself and had to look several times to be sure.  Sure enough he was the gregarious kingfisher.  To see how it unfolded here is a series of photos starting with a distance photo moving to up close.

Fauntleroy Ferry Dock Waiting room – Birds are on the pilings below it.
The Kingfisher can be seen edge of dock to the left of the big rusty piece of metal on the left of center
Do you see him now? His white breast makes him stick out against the piling.
There he is watching all around for a meal or threat.

Wow – I would never have seen him if that black duck bird had not flown over that way.  As you can see from a distance he is really hard to see even when you know he is there.

After I watched a bit he flew away perhaps getting ready to dive in for a fish. It looked like he went off to the north side of the dock, so I followed.

To my delight, there he was again. Here is another series of distant to close up of his perch.

North side of the Fauntleroy Dock – Kingfisher on metal pole tops
See that little guy on the metal rail?
We are getting closer now
It’s a classic Kingfisher pose for us.

That’s it for this week’s unexpected but so enjoyable bird moment at the Cove Park.

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


Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Nature’s Hover Craft

Here I was counting crows at the bird pool formed by Fauntleroy Creek. Lately this has been a happening beach with crows, blue herons, killdeer, ferry traffic and people chattering plus now an osprey.

Not only was he just hanging out and doing his best to torment the resident crows but he was actively fishing. There must have been a school of fish since he kept doing his best osprey maneuver of flying in place.  No wonder the USA military named their hover craft after them.

This video gives you a taste of what I mean more than any words can. It will show you how close the dock is and towards the end a good look at him strutting (or rather flying) his best stuff.

At some point there were three of them circling and hovering in formation. They did not give up and just kept at it till they had success.  Next off they would fly into the trees that surround the shoreline houses to find a private place to eat.

After I captured the video of their dinner hunting endeavor I walked back under the dock to head home. That was when I saw one of the fly by with a wiggling fish in beak.  Great day for the fish plate special.

Osprey with prize fish flies off to enjoy.
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!

Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Killdeer Reflections

Close to the Ferry Dock to Vashon Island is where Fauntleroy Creek comes down to meet Puget Sound. It is a perfect place for a bird to get a drink or take a bath. The crows of the beach showed off for my camera before and you can see that on this post – Crow Cleanliness

During one of my recent trips to this beach I saw a couple of Killdeers (they belong to the Plover family). They were doing their trademark sound and I found one settle onto a log. She did a little bit of her dance of distraction for me showing off her orangey feathers hidden when she stands.

Killdeer hanging out at the beach
A resting Killdeer at Fauntleroy Beach

The still shots don’t really do her justice so here is a little video to see what she was up to.


Then I wandered up to where the creek flows under the Ferry Dock to see who was enjoying the fresh water. To my surprise there was another Killdeer sipping water and contemplating his reflection.

Killdeer visits the creek

Check out his neck rings and long skinny legs standing at the water edge.

Reflection is good for the Killdeer soul

But best of all here is the video of him drinking and hanging out as the creek babbled by. At the end you will see how close this little nature moment is to a bustling ferry dock with cars, people and a big ferry boat. Never ceases to amaze me how birds can exist so close to us. We just need to look & enjoy them.  Let serendipity take control.